Wednesday, August 15, 2012

not that heavy

When I was a six-year-old boy, I met a 5-year-old girl on the swings by my house. I called her over for a game of Catch, for she was lonely.

When I did her face lit up with a smile which melted my heart. I was in love there and then as she rushed towards me, arms flailing wildly. The next hour was the best of my 6-year-old life as we chased each other round the playground, amused parents looking on.

Eventually a small rock interrupted our glee; she tripped and scraped her knee. I was confused, what was I to do?

She looked up at me, eyes a-twinkle with baby tears. With grimy fingers I wiped them away, and with all the chivalry a pre-schooler could muster I took her in my arms.

I whispered, so as not to let the trembling of my arms make my voice shake:

“You’re not that heavy.”

*                             *                             *

Two decades later and it is the night of our wedding. I had lost my baby fat long ago, to be replaced by muscles at the military. She never lost her chubbiness, but to me she never lost her beauty either.

We were finally alone after a day of noise and celebration, and finally I could tell her the many things I had yearned to over the years.

But there was apprehension in her eyes. She had grown up the butt of jokes, from a society which saw thin as beautiful.

I wanted so much to say what he 6-year-old kid of yesteryear wanted to: that she had stolen my heart, and I did not want it back.

Instead I did what that 6-year-old kid did all those years ago. I picked her up in my arms, though effortlessly now.

She beamed, eyes a-twinkle with joyful tears as I whispered slowly into her ear:

“You’re not that heavy.”

*                             *                             *

Now even that is past, and time has not been kind on me. Today I am paralyzed, emaciated, a skeleton of my old robust self. My eyes were fixed on the old TV set – not because the show was good, but because I just couldn’t turn my head anymore.

A ghostly figure stepped into view. Her smile now tired, desperate even. Eyes no longer a-twinkle. Her figure is tragically gaunt; she has lost all of her chubbiness. Tears well up in my eyes – my wife did not deserve this. If I could still talk I would tell her to just forget me, leave me in a nursery, live what’s left of her life.

Still smiling she stooped over to pick me up. I cursed at myself for burdening her.

But as if reading my mind she whispered slowly as she walked up the stairs:

“You’re not that heavy.”