The Counting Stone

The Elephant Man has returned.

I got a ride home from work last night. From Elgin Street, I walked to Confederation Park. I knew the spasms were coming; I felt them riding in my friends car, a subtle throb that started near my left thigh and moved it’s way down to my knees.

I got out of the car and with each step I took, I could feel the stone pouring into my leg. With each step, I can feel the muscles in my leg knot themselves, filling up with worry knots, with sailors knots.

I force myself to keep walking, to make my way through Confederation Park, to climb those thirty stairs that feel more like sixty. With each step, it’s getting harder and harder to keep walking, to keep moving.

By the time I reach the top of the stairs, I’m almost out of breath from the exertion. My leg feels hard now, as if I’m dragging it behind me. I take a step and stumble over my foot, tripping forward.

I bump into a couple, a man and a woman. The man pushes me back, tells me to fuck off and watch where I’m going. I apologize, feeling my cheeks go red, a hot patch of blood on my cheeks.

I keep thinking to myself: if he only knew, if they only knew, if she only knew.

My entire leg is in pain now; the calf muscles have started their own slow throb as if my theigh and my calf are communicating in a painful morose code. I force myself to keep walking but only make it as far as the first chair that I see.

I sit greatfully into the cold metal chair, bending down to knead my calf muscles, to try and work some sort of feeling other than hurt back into them.

The effort to keep the pain at bay, to ignore it, is exhausting. I can feel it in my stomach, so hot that it makes me want to vomit.

For a while, I think I am going to be sick, but I concentrate, I breathe and I count. Graceful soft counting where I picture the words writing themselves in the air.

one two three 123 one two three 123 one two three 123

one two three 123 one two three 123 one two three 123

I can taste the pain on my tongue, heavy and bitter. It tastes like pennies and I breathe in and out, in and out so that I will not cry.

I wait, counting to myself; I wait for the stone to subside, for it to leak out of my leg and pour itself onto the floor. I try to visualize it leaving my leg so that it does not feel so heavy, so weighted.

So I can face the walk home.

I get up and start walking, knowing that I have another ten or fifteen minutes to walk until I reach the sanctuary of my apartment, of my husbands arms.

But as soon as I start walking, putting one foot in front of another, the muscles start again, hardening and morphing into elephant legs, into heavy stone that drags behind me. I wipe a tear that begins to slide down my cheek and strenghten my resolve, try to reach down inside me and find that piece of myself that is the glue of me.

I will not shatter in front of strangers.

I walk through the Byward Market, looking at everything around myself from what I carry with me. To distract my mind so that it does not taste that taste of pennies and sweat at the back of my throat.

By the time I get home, I am limping and tripping over my feet. I can’t feel my leg, my entire leg and the spasms have never been this bad. I see my mother when I get to the driveway and it occurs to me that I am embarassed for her to see me this way.

My Mum and Dad recently moved into the apartment below us. It had never occured to me before that they would see me this way, that I would want to hide part of myself from them.

I know feeling embarassed in front of my mother is a silly, stubborn excuse for an emotion. But there it was. Robert was waiting for me at the top of the stairs. Those thirty stairs that felt like hundreds, that felt like a mountain.

I could feel my mothers eyes on me as I climbed the stairs, using the railing to push up with my arm when I had to take a step with my left leg.

“Are you in pain?” Robert asked.

“Yes.” It killed me to admit this in front of my mother. I don’t know why, but there it is. The truth seldom makes sense, even to those who created it.

“I can tell by the way you’re walking.” Robert said.

I got to the top of the stairs, tears trying to push their way out from behind my eyes. Sweat was pouring off my forehead and I could feel it building under my shirt.

My mother spoke from her balcony. “I love you, Baby Boy.” She said.

I smiled, no longer embarassed. “I love you too.”

I went inside to seek shelter from the storm and a cold glass of something liquid so that I could wash away the taste of pennies.

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About Jamieson Wolf

Jamieson an award winning, number-one bestselling author. He writes in many different genres. Learn more at www.jamiesonwolf.com
This entry was posted in Memoir, Spasms, swelling, Walking. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Counting Stone

  1. Joyce says:

    ((HUGS))), Hon!!! I literally know your pain–both physical and emotional. Know that each day I will pray you have a good day–that the pain is bearable and you can keep the sanctuary of your loved ones close.

  2. Rebecca says:

    Moms always know, even before we want to admit it to them. It’s like some kind of 6th sense and moms just know even when there separated from us. Take heart knowing that you have your parents close to you.

  3. Dorothy says:

    Oh my friend…this pains me to read these words. We all take things for granted and walking without pain is one of them…goddess love ya, kiddo…take one step at a time…

  4. Caroline says:

    Moved to tears. Again.
    I think that your memoir should come with a special handkerchief for each reader.

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