How To Get along Without…What You Love

I get a long without you very well…
you know I do…
Except in spring …
But I should never think of spring …

The song is playing on my earphones – a song I long have felt close to, remembering… a Him who long ago disappeared. Yet, the song always evokes a nostalgia that lasts through the three or four minutes it takes to play. And oh, that line: “But I should never think of spring, for if I do, it’d break my heart in two…”

Today I’m almost finished with my workout, and I’m letting down the intensity as I slowly work the arm exerciser. Getting older seems to make it harder and harder to lose the flab below my upper arms. I look around as the song plays on the Walkman at my ears. Others in the light machine workout room are doing repetitions to the music on the loudspeaker – 1970’s rock and roll: sha-na-na! (They have told me it helps with energy levels.)

It is the orange T-shirt that catches my attention, even before I notice the wheelchair. A message across the occupant’s chest reads: “What Is The Cost of War?” The young man wearing it sits sullenly, trying to ignore an enthusiastic trainer who seemingly is rapidly losing patience. For a moment the trainer stands still, just looking at the young man, who appears to be 17 or 18 (but then when you get to my age, they all look like mere children). His head hangs down, his elbows resting on the arms of the chair. Is he, like I am, listening to something in his head?

“Just push the wheels yourself,” the trainer encourages him. “C’mon, man, you’re just not with it today.”

Then I see the reason for the wheelchair. Instead of muscle and bone inside his workout pants, he wears prosthetic “legs,” with outsized gym shoes that face in awkward, different directions. I conclude that this is new to him – this managing without legs, this “working out” a body that once tore down a football field and made love under the bleachers.

I try not to stare, although the boy’s eyes aren’t focusing on anything or anyone. His body does not move. I try to imagine what is going through his head. The sounds of bombs exploding? One particular bomb? Or the silence that follows before the pandemonium begins?

Although the gym is near the Army base, the thought crosses my mind that this boy may have lost his legs in a car accident, but then I notice the partial uniform worn by the trainer. This young man has been to war. This is the DOD equivalent of help for returning war veterans.

The song in my head begins its last chorus of the words. And tears begin to form as I listen again to the familiar words, repeated in my ears. “I get along without you very well…” (what do I need legs for anyway?) “…except in spring, and I should never think of spring, for if I do, it’d break my heart in two.

Copyright ©2005 Val Dumond


About Val Dumond

VAL DUMOND is a writer who is enamored with words and putting them together to tell stories. Trained as a journalist, she also managed an advertising agency and public relations business. She has taught writing classes for many years and now focuses on her own writing, editing for other writers, and helping writers publish their books. She owns Muddy Puddle Press, where most of her books are published. Her favorite writing theme is historical fiction: She has done what-ifs for Klondike Kate — Queen of the Yukon, and the unlucky pilot who in 1933 tried and failed to be the first to fly solo across the Pacific. She also did a what-if about the status of women at a bank where she once was overworked and underpaid. (Kate received a new love interest at the age of 70; the pilot received a second chance at his heart's desire 50 years later; and the women of the bank rebelled enough to improve their wages and place women on the Board of Directors.) See: SUGAR, SPICE, AND STONE; WHEN ROOSTERS FLY; and A LITTLE REBELLION…. But Val's grammar books are the ones that draw attention. Her latest, AMERICAN-ENGLISH—The Official Guide (written for writers), is a culmination of five other books about language she has written. This new book urges writers to develop their own writing style by creating their own Style Manual, composed of preferences among the many choices that American-English provides. In it, she uses examples of uses for the various parts of language and punctuation, sets aside a section that's full of writing tips, includes a glossary and index for easy access to language solutions.
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