The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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Most hips come in the form of a ball and socket joint. My mother's, however, came without the socket part. She spent the first three years of her life in a full-body cast, had multiple surgeries, and was told she would never walk or have children.

This is the story of her flipping that prognosis the bird.

My mother is a fighter, always has been, and always will be. Since hearing that prognosis, she has had three children, worked as an EMT for 25 years, recently became a paramedic, and is still refusing to ever let anything or anyone tell her what she can and can't be.

My mother is my hero, for reasons that are fairly apparent.

A set of four flashlights bobbed around her as they navigated the woods in the early morning darkness. Doreen smiled, knowing her mother would never agree to let her go fishing if she knew the jokes that the boys would be saying. Yet, she had agreed. Kind of.

“Here we go,” Carl said in his thick Brooklyn accent, bringing the group to a halt before a wooden fence. Behind the fence was a plane unbroken pasture, bathed in early morning mist. Carl leaned his pole against the fence and rounded on the group.

“Is this Blaisdell’s?” Manie asked, eliciting a nervous glance from Doreen and Davie. Carlos tapped his nose and pointed at Manie in a ‘you got it’ gesture.

“Quickest way to the lake is across the horse field,” Carl said. Doreen clutched at her dress nervously.

“I don’t know Carlos,” Davie said, mimicking Doreen’s thoughts, “What if someone sees us?”

“Relax. No one’ll  know we’re there.” Carl said, pointing his flashlight to the ground and searching.

With a victorious smile, he reached down and picked up a baseball sized rock.

“We toss this in, listen if they're nearby. If not, we run. Easy.” Doreen placed her hand on her hip unconsciously, worried that it would slow her down. The last surgery had been a while ago, but still. Doreen looked around the group, uncertain. Manie shared a nervous glance with her as Davie and Charlie shrugged.

“Worth a shot,” Charlie said

“Ready boys?” Carlos said with a devilish grin. The boys around him nodded. He turned his eyes to Doreen. “You ready?” He asked more gently. She wasn’t, but she nodded anyway.

Carlos turned, cocking his arm. With one powerful throw worthy of the MLB, the stone arced upward, disappearing into the mist.

The stillness of the night washed over them. A moment passed. Two. Then, in the distance, a frightened whinny, and the sound of maddened hoofbeats.

“Go!” Carlos shouted, throwing his pole over the fence and vaulting it with ease. Doreen stood frozen for a moment, quickly releasing a breath she didn’t realize she was holding, as the boys around her threw their poles and tackle boxes over the fence and began to climb over it. Charlie stopped at the top, looking at her.

“Come on Dee!” He shouted, spurring her into action. She tossed her pole over, grabbing Charlie’s outstretched hand as she did. She swung her leg over the top, the two of them jumping down simultaneously, meeting the rest of the group on the other side.

The boys snatched their poles from the ground and ran, Doreen already trailing behind. Her shoes sank into the mud as she ran, her hip not letting her move as quickly as the other boys. She quickly fell further behind, watching as they disappeared into the mist. Her heart pounded in her ears, the sound of the approaching hoofbeats seeming to fall in sync with it.

Bump bump.

Bump Bump.

The horses were so close now, she could practically feel their breaths on her neck, feel the pulse of their hooves in her chest. What if I don’t make it? What if I’m not fast enough? She thought to herself. But still, she ran.

“Come on Dee!”

“You can do it!”

“Just a little more!” She could hear the boys screaming, their voices drowning out the hoofbeats and her own thoughts. She ran faster.

The mist cleared, the light of the boy’s flashlights a beacon of safety. As she ran, Doreen threw her pole blindly forward, using her momentum to get halfway up the fence as the boys around her hooted and hollered.

Manie and Charlie gave her a hand down, and she could see Manie’s eyes linger on her leg as her skirt rode up, revealing her scars. Charlie slapped his arm reproachfully as Davie handed her her pole.

“Nice one boys,” Carl said with a wide smile, offering Doreen a high five.

“So what are we waiting for?” She asked. “Let’s go fishing.” She began moving, her heart still beating like the hoofbeats of a stallion.

 

Fishing With the Boys

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2:00 AM, one Summer in the '70s
New Jersey

Most hips come in the form of a ball and socket joint. My mother's, however, came without the socket part. She spent the first three years of her life in a full-body cast, had multiple surgeries, and was told she would never walk or have children.

This is the story of her flipping that prognosis the bird.

My mother is a fighter, always has been, and always will be. Since hearing that prognosis, she has had three children, worked as an EMT for 25 years, recently became a paramedic, and is still refusing to ever let anything or anyone tell her what she can and can't be.

My mother is my hero, for reasons that are fairly apparent.

Recorded by Robert Mulry on November 15, 2017
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