The Unborn Child

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told.  Some will be fun, some will not.  Some will be great, some will be less so.  Some stories are true, some are merely possible.  This is one of them.

The Unborn Child

Picture a girl like many other girls.  She was born to a quiet family; complete with siblings, fish, and every now and then a cat.  She lived in the suburbs, sledded down the hill when there was snow, and shared lawn-mowing duties in the summer.  She wore leggings as pants in the eighties, had her share of toy horses, went to church each Sunday, and her room was painted in light pink.  She didn’t become overly involved in school, but she had excellent grades and spent much of her summer reading books until three or four in the morning.  In short, her childhood was pleasant.

Then she left the home and went to college.  Being the nice, quiet gal that she is, she made friends with her roommates.  Nothing terribly sordid or untoward occurred at their Christian college.  She studied plenty and came home each summer.  She worked the typical cashiering jobs but always exited the workforce when college season rolled around again.  Of course, she excelled and graduated on time.  She moved in with her parents and looked for a job that would suit her.  Not long after, she found a rather special guy.  She took her time, waited until she was absolutely sure, and then the two of them got married in a nice summer ceremony.  As was usually the case with her, it was a bright and sunny day.  There would be no rain on her parade; that would come later.

Sure enough, the two bought a house.  They had a son and eventually added a few cats to the mix.  There were a few surprises added to their lives.  Giant potholes opened up in the street, winter storms unlike anything she had been used to as a child were commonplace, and their son was more of a handful than she had first expected.  However, theirs was nothing to complain about.  They liked their lives.  They loved their son, so they thought they would have some more children.  He wanted four to six little ones while she would have been happy with two to four.  So they tried and waited.  They waited.  The waiting wasn’t going well.  That rainy day had come around for them.

Medical assistance was sought.  Tests were run, procedures were attempted, and things got hairy.  Over the course of several years they tried their best and prayed.  They had moments of hope here and there.  But along came a miscarriage.  They mourned, slowly recovered, and got up the courage to try again.  Then came the news; twins.  But, because things don’t always go as we would like, those lives ended in another miscarriage.  After more suffering and more praying, it was decided that there was only so much that they could take and they tried the adoption route.

Raising a child that someone else birthed proved to be just as challenging.  This was not the storyline of a sitcom that they had been shown.  There were the fees to be paid, the applications to fill out, and the interviews to be presentable for.  The couple had a lovely quality to them, yet they hoped and waited to be found perfect for the perfect child.  Parents met with them.  Feelings and gut instincts were taken into account.  Each time, the result was the same.  They usually felt some peace with each child that was not to be theirs.  However with each disappointment they started to wonder if they weren’t thinking big enough.  They considered adopting internationally.  Skin color wasn’t an obstacle that would stop them; why not give a child who was struggling an opportunity to live with them?  In the end, this didn’t sit right with them either and they abandoned the notion.

That was how things were.  For all their attempts and all their work, they found their house emptier than they would have like.  Sure, their son was pretty fun.  He liked to watch construction work happen and enjoyed being outside with ducks and ponds.  The cats did their neurotic thing that felines do, the child went to school, and the parents worked at their jobs and with the church.  They decided that the life they had was enough.  They could work and toil and continue making themselves miserable by hitting their heads against brick walls, or they could let the world turn as it would.  They would be content with what they had.

Now imagine the joy they had when they found out they were pregnant last fall.  Picture how nervous and concerned they were when it had all happened unexpectedly.  The first few weeks were a test on their trust and their hopes.  They didn’t want to see yet another child taken away when they just wanted to love them.  They wanted this child to survive and be healthy.

She is.  She was born yesterday.  And I’m very happy for this couple I care about.  I’m glad that their seven years of waiting ended the way I always thought it should.


Stuck with the Point

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told.  Some will be fun, some will not.  Some will be great, some will be less so.  Some stories are true, some are merely possible.  This is one of them.

Stuck with the Point

Ted’s commute to work had been rather tame, to say the least.  Granted, there was the man next to him that smelled a bit too much like alcohol for eight in the morning, but as long as he kept his hands to himself, Ted was content to give him his own space.  Everyone had plenty of elbow room, no one’s headphones were blaring obnoxiously; Ted was free to simply zone out and stare out the window.

As always, Ted did his best to take in the scenic world that surrounded him.  The morning clouds still obscured much of the skyline, but Ted took comfort in knowing that behind all those cumulus clouds there were miles of mountains covered in feet of snow.  The weather was cooperating, even if it was taking its time in doing so.  Still, the amount of blue overhead was slowly overtaking the white.

The bus pulled off the freeway and made its way through downtown Seattle.  Ted looked at the famous tourist trap and mentally registered a checkmark of annoyance.  True to its past, the Space Needle had gotten all dressed up for a special occasion.  When a famous game show had been in town, the Space Needle had adorned a giant wheel on its top.  During a former sports season, a giant baseball had somehow withstood high winds long enough to grab everyone’s attention as it sat on the roof. Now, in order to fit in with its neighbors, the Space Needle had painted the top of its structure orange to reflect the color it had been when it was first constructed fifty years ago.

Ted had long since grown immune to most of the tourist areas that surrounded his work.  He often walked past the monuments several times a day and so became numb to their appeal.  The months of construction seemed to finally be winding down and Ted was hoping for quieter times.  If the folks wanted to dress up their building a little bit, that was fine by him.  Just so long as there were no more construction cranes or forklifts trying to run him over.

The bus came to a stop by the street and Ted made sure that he was the first one off.  His long legs made it easy for him to walk faster than others.  While he had plenty of time to get to work, the idea of weaving through a crowd of people never sat well with him.  Better to be a little obnoxious and stand up on the bus early than to live through the barrier of commuters.  That was how Ted came to be the first to happen upon a different sort of needle

One of the things that made Ted notice the needle was its similarity to its brethren.  This needle was certainly much smaller, but it too had an orange hue near its pointy tip.  With concern, Ted noted that this color was more of a reddish-orange.  Suddenly the “ugly” orange atop a skyscraper did not seem so off putting.

Ted did what any other commuter would have done.  He noted the presence of the syringe on the ground, “tisked” for a moment or two, and then walked past it.  Who was he to take care of such matters?  He did not want to get a prick on his hand. He was no medical professional.  Someone else could deal with it.  Someone else could take the risk; just as long as that someone was not Ted.

Then the sense of decency took over.  Public responsibility was not a trait Ted sat around and pondered, but every so often he could feel it pull at him.  Usually it was dealt with by picking up a piece of recycling or turning a valuable phone into lost and found.  It was in that same spirit that the piece of newspaper presented itself to Ted on the concrete in front of him.  Ted paused.  He thought back to the needle.  He knew it was a nice day and some crazy people might believe that they could wear sandals with nothing bad happening to them.  A family could be taking a casual stroll downtown and a four year-old could pick up the glinting object before her parents were any the wiser.  Ted had no desire to be accidentally injected with blood or some other biohazard.  However he also did not want someone else to have a surprise that could wreck their life.

Ted took the cue, reached for the piece of newspaper, and returned to the bus stop.  Sure enough, the needle lay there, waiting for him.  A fellow passenger who was adjusting his bike gave Ted a glance, but Ted was not about to explain himself.  He did not see any humor in the matter, so he opted out of telling an awkward joke or delivering a clever explanation.

Ted wrapped the syringe carefully in the piece of paper, almost like a hot dog in a ridiculously large bun.  The tip was covered, and the majority of the object was hidden from view.  Ted saw no reason to let folks know about the item he was carrying.  He would carry it at a safe distance and hope that no one caught on.  Ted honestly did not know how he would explain such an object.  Cries of, “It’s not mine!” came into his head and he wondered how convincingly he would be able to deliver the truth.

Never before had Ted given so much thought to how he was walking.  All of his items that he had brought from home were carried in his right arm.  His left arm was completely and entirely occupied with the tiny, single-use needle.  Ted was relieved that he had plenty of time to get to work because today was no the day to be running.  He could see himself tripping or stumbling over the many tree roots or cracks in the sidewalk and pricking his hand as he lost balance.  He hugged the curb as much as possible whenever someone else appeared on the sidewalk.  He hoped they took no offense at his putting a ten-foot barrier between himself and his fellow passersby.  Ted felt that the chance of perceived rudeness was nothing compared to an accidental injection with mystery fluids.

The problem simply was that of disposal.  Ted, like most downtown commuters, knew that every garbage can between his work and downtown (and beyond), were fair game for homeless people.  He had often seen people thrust their hands eagerly into all kinds of receptacles, hungry for food.  They dug, they rearranged, and they scoured the miscellaneous objects in search of treasures.  Ted was not about to let this dangerous item be one of them.  The nearest hospital was a mile or two out of his way, but Ted had another plan that he felt was safe enough.

Once a police officer passed by.  Ted mulled over the idea of asking them for advice.  However, he noted that they were parking enforcement.  They may have had some street experience, but they were not exactly paramedics.  Ted decided that he would stick to his reasonably sound plan and let the woman go about her assigned task undeterred.

The last few blocks came and went.  Ted became increasingly eager to rid himself of his burden.  They food he had held in his right hand was nothing compared to the weight he felt in his left.  He was not at all surprised to feel his left hand pointing the needle’s tip slightly away from him.  If he was to suddenly trip, Ted hoped that the extra ten degrees distance would save him.  Also, he knew he was leaning ever so slightly towards his right side and away from his “toy surprise”.  He had not even bought a combo meal.

Finally, Ted made it to the city building.  He had worked near the building for years and knew exactly where the large dumpster was.  With no locks and no staff near the doors, Ted pushed the green doors open and strolled on in.  Again fearing the conviction of any explanation, Ted breathed easier when he saw no custodians milling about.  Ted removed the syringe from the piece of paper.  He never let his hands come into contact with the needle.  Finally he watched it drop into the combination trash compacter/ dumpster.

Ted’s thinking was that the dumpster was the safest garbage can for miles.  The bin was emptied by a large truck; hopefully no bare human hands would come into contact with it.  Still, as he pushed the compact button in hopes of burying it, Ted could see most of the needle on the floor of the dumpster.  The compactor slid forward, slowly and noisily.  He had seen umbrella poles and chunks of wood splinter and crack before the might of this metallic behemoth.  Yet as the compactor slid back from its second round of severe pressures, Ted could still see the tip of the needle laying there.  It mocked him.  The exposed point told Ted that he could never really know if people were safe from it.  Ted walked away feeling only a bit of the responsibility taken from him.  Ted had not been pricked by the needle, but he could swear he feel it poking him as he tried to go about his day.

Personal Space

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Personal Space

Chad was having a hard time getting comfortable.  No matter how nice the theatre looked or how amusing the performance was, he found the leg room lacking.  Chad liked going to live shows, but he always regretted not having the roomy accommodations his home offered.  Going and seeing someone on stage, complete with hiccups and stutters, was a nice change of pace from staring at a screen with commercials.  But the cost of being in the same room as a performer was rather steep for Chad.  It wasn’t so much the ticket price that he minded; it was how tightly the seats were packed together.

He had done his best to acquire aisle seats.  Chad assumed that the ushers would come by intermittently and ask him to tuck his legs in, but those few seconds of being able to stretch seemed worth any hassle.  Others must have had the same idea because Chad’s seat options had been limited to the middle.  He was still able to see the stage from his far-back balcony seats, but any hopes he might have had for indulging in comfort came to naught.

The tickets were worth it.  The comedian, a national radio star, was really quite delightful.  He didn’t cause Chad to burst out in boisterous laughs and guffaws, but he felt himself chuckling along with the audience often.  Everyone in the theatre seemed to be having a good time and they were happy to be there.  Chad looked at Cindy and saw that she was beaming and smiling along effortlessly.

Chad hadn’t known for sure that his friend would tag along when he bought the second ticket, but he had certainly hoped.  She had often mentioned his broadcasts and the two shared a mutual sense of humor most of the time.  While they had never dated, Chad always found his constant companion to be quite lovely.  Chad was quite tall himself, and Cindy came just short of his height.  Brunette with an athletic build and reading glasses, an easy smile often flashed across her face.  Her shoulder-length hair and brown eyes were often admired by other men whenever the two associated in public.  If Chad was being honest, he could hardly blame them.  Cindy’s constant desire to be a better person and the worry she felt for those around her might have hidden away for only her true friends to know about.  Her stunning physique, however, was on display in her own confident way.

The comedian sat on his stool that was perched alone on an empty stage.  The man needed no props and rambled along in a folksy, down-home manner.  He didn’t make any grand gestures or yell at the crowd.  He just talked, to no one person or group in particular, about the townsfolk that he found amusing and the antics that seemingly sprang out of nowhere.  Someone less confident would have shuffled their shoes; possibly crossing their legs and uncrossing them in an attempt to exert some sort of control over the theatre.  This man didn’t have that problem.  His feet; like his timing, were confident and assured.  He kept his feet planted squarely and firmly while he put slight spins on his routine to meet the crowd gathered.  The performer was having a nice time and his business suit seemed a gag in itself.  This wasn’t a group that cared about attire.  They simply wanted to laugh.

Chad’s knees were talking, but not in laughs or chortles.  While his need for entertainment was being met, Chad’s desire to stretch was only growing.  He was not technically in pain; however he was certainly feeling the strong itch to move well up inside his legs.  His knees were bumped up against the chair in front of him and no matter how much he sat up, his lower appendages lacked sufficient space.  Even if wasn’t living in terror that his knees popping would pierce the quiet ambiance of the room, his legs lacked a maneuvering area.  He felt his legs get tighter as the hour drew later.  Chad began to realize that there was no intermission coming to allow him anything resembling relief.  He could try to twist his legs diagonally, but he could only readjust so many times before Cindy would catch on.  Chad was determined to remain a proper theatre patron in front of her, even if his discomfort was approaching a level normally reserved for flights to Australia or dental visits.

Finally, after almost two hours, the performer stood up slowly, and thanked the audience for coming.  Chad leapt to his legs and clapped enthusiastically.  His legs cheered at their newfound ability to decompress while those around him applauded the performer; they remained ignorant of how he had suffered for art.  As the performer lifted the stool and started walking off towards stage left, Chad bounced lightly from one foot to the other.  He was about to take a break from clapping and rub the back of his knees when he saw Cindy watching him out of the corner of his eye.

“Had a little trouble sitting still, did ya?”

Chad’s sheepish grin came out and he looked apologetically towards his friend.  “You noticed?”

“Yep”, she admitted.  She leaned in towards him, closing what little space had been between them.  “Nobody else did though.  You made a valiant effort.”

Chad smiled at this as Cindy continued clapping.  He pulled her towards him and hugged her opposite arm.  “A good show with a quality friend”, he said to her.   “I’d call that worthwhile.”

The lights in the theatre went up from dusk-like to mostly-dim and the mass of people bustled and chatted their way out of the aisles.  Quite content with the company he had already; Chad rubbed his legs and enjoyed having no one sitting to the left of him.  He lifted his legs, popped his knees, and generally felt himself relaxing.  Cindy looked at the process with a shake of her head.

“You know, if we choreograph that whole performance you’re putting on, we could sell tickets.”

“Funny”, Chad replied.  “High-larious.”

“Are you ready to go, or does Old Man Winter need a wheelchair brought to him?”

Chad looked around and noticed that only a few stragglers remained.  He made his way towards the aisles and Cindy followed along.  There was still a mighty crowd around the elevators so the two wove and navigated through the groups of people on the staircases.  Chad did his customary pocket check to make sure that his car keys were still in his pocket while Cindy did her best to take in the pieces of artwork that decorated the elaborate walls.

They walked down the last few steps and pushed the heavy doors open.  Stepping into the night air, January’s fierce weather assaulted them immediately.  As if the low temperature was not enough of a threat to the general populace, it had brought along its friend wind-chill factor.  The wintery cold slapped Cindy and Chad in the face and nipped at any openings of their clothes.  They pulled their clothes tighter and shrank their heads into their too-thin coats like turtles.  They hadn’t planned for this sort of extreme environment and had no coats or gloves.

Cindy, being the one who took action, grabbed Chad’s right arm and pulled him close.  She tucked her arms inside his jacket and closed them around his waist.  Their chests and hips pressed against each other and an unspoken trust passed from her to him.  Chad; surprised but game, put his arm tightly around her.  One extra-wide person with four legs and two heads leaning against each other made its way down the sidewalks.  They hugged and laughed, hoping to beat the cold off with determination and shared body heat.  Chad enjoyed the closeness with his friend and realized he had to rethink some ideas he had.  Before he had been yearning to break free and have all the personal space he and his legs could acquire.  Now he was quite content to keep holding on to his companion for as long as he she’d let him.

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