Saturday, August 25, 2007

The man getting on the bus seemed unsure of his prosthetic leg, as though it were new to him. Watching, I admired that he was confident enough to wear shorts even in the face of his obvious wobbling--he didn't care who knew that he was down half a leg. Both of his legs were smoothly muscled, the left one ending just below the knee, both ankles covered with athletic socks.

The bus driver was looking elsewhere and didn't seem to notice that the man could have benefited from the kneeling bus, and I was reminded briefly of the stranger who handed me his fake leg last year. The smooth segment was colder than I had expected, and I wondered suddenly if it ever warms up, or if the stump's terminus is always chilly from the contact.

He hesitated by the door, shifting his weight, unsure if he should step up with his good leg or his false one, clearly not trusting the prosthesis to hold his weight on its own at either step. After a few moments of dithering he suddenly took a deep breath and stepped forward with his good leg, pulling the other one up behind him in a little hop, and sat down in the first seat.

He looked down the aisle of the mostly empty bus, searching, and it was then that I noticed his hands curled into fists on his lap. Satisfied that no one was watching he too looked at his hands, apparently surprised to see them clenched, and quickly relaxed them. His left hand hovered over his knee for the rest of my ride.

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