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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Broken

This is long! I needed a jumpstart for the story I was writing for nanowrimo which didn't have a beginning. Now it does...


"Stupid, stupid, stupid!" Marianne muttered to herself. She was sitting in a wheelchair in a hallway at the emergency room of the town's only hospital. She'd fractured her tibia while skiing and was waiting to have a cast put on the lower half of her leg. Her husband and children were in the waiting room, hungry and tired, and probably cold and somewhat wet after their long day of skiiing.

Too long. As a beginning skiier, and one who was indifferent to the sport, Marianne knew better than to push past her limits. It's just that her limits were so low, who'd have believed her if she'd said that she needed to rest yet again? She spent these skiiing days with Carlos's family doing as little skiing as she could get away with. Most of the time she watched the kids, Mireya and Tony, as they barreled down the hills happily. When Carlos would glare at her in exasperation she'd airily wave the camera in his direction, reminding him that someone had to record these fun family times for posterity.

Carlos's family - his two brothers, his sister, and his parents - were all of them active and outdoorsy and assumed that she was the same. Even after 15 years of her being married to Carlos they had little to no understanding of how different she was from them. Carlos's father was a lawyer with a large firm and so his children had grown up with ski trips and tennis club memberships. All three boys had grown up athletic and competitive and while Marianne had hoped for an ally in Janet, the sole sister, she has as little in common with her as she did with Carlos's brothers.

And her mother-in-law? They were kind and cordial to one another but had very little to talk about. It got a little better with the arrival of Mireya and Tony, or Antonio (Carlos's family refused to use the Anglicised version of his name) but as the kids grow older and display some of Marianne's own introverted, daydreamy ways there is often tension about whether Marianne is encouraging traits in them which would be better stamped out.

She'd tried gamely to appear to enjoy skiing. Actually, she didn't hate it so much as lack stamina for it. It's fun enough to go down a small slope a few times but she lacks the confidence to advance to the bigger mountain and she can only handle a few hours on the smaller hill before she's bored. She'd go to the lodge for hot cocoa and a rest, but often the crowds in there were dense and there was nowhere to sit. After struggling with her skis and her coat, her gloves, her boots and her hat and then struggling to wipe the fog from her glasses and fumbling for a tissue to wipe her suddenly very runny nose - and then seeing wall-to-wall laughing, energetic skiiers and no place to sit down and enjoy a quiet moment - she'd become irritable and even unhappier. Marianne was not a person who liked crowds, either.

Actually, as she leaned miserably against the back of her wheelchair in the hallway of the hospital emergency room, she remembered her last trip to the lodge that afternoon. She'd unpeeled her wet, cold outerwear while trying to look casual and nonchalant, as if she did this sort of thing all the time and wasn't, in fact, nervous and awkward about where to put her coat and how to spread out her gloves so that they wouldn't be cold and clammy when she next put her hands in them. It seemed like everything about skiing took so much work, that's all, and she wasn't convinced that sliding down an icy slope was actually worth it. She was thinking these thoughts as she arranged her gloves on top of her coat and her hat on another corner of the little pile she'd made. She rose up, running her fingers through her hair to offset the dreaded hat-head effect and as she glanced around to try to find a place to sit down she noticed someone else who looked as self-conscious and miserable as she did, a man squeezed up against the wall with his coat and gloves still on. She smiled in noting his fogged glasses just as her own began to cloud. She snatched hers off and wiped them and when she put them back on she noticed that he was watching her. He must have seen her amused smile and, what? Thought she was smiling at him? Maybe flirting with him? Her face flushed and she immediately looked off into the distance across the crowded lodge, as if she saw someone she knew.

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