Wendy Elizabeth Wallace
Two days after the doctor told you you’re going blind, your dad takes you to the beach. You’re thirteen and angry and don’t want to go. You’d rather stay home and read while you still can see to do it—who knows how much longer? Not the doctor.
Your dad parks where he always does, at the restaurant called Red Top where you both order chocolate milkshakes in the summer. Red Top is closed now, so you follow him over the rocks and down to the sand, which is when you notice that the whole lake is covered in ice. Not flat like a skating rink, but waves of ice, as if you were looking not at a real lake but a photograph of one, its motion grey-white and perpetually frozen.
“Come on out,” your dad says. “It’s safe.”
Step out after him, because if he says something is safe, it is. Feel the solidity under your boots, the echolessness. He shows you how to climb the face of the wave, your feet wide and hands extended to brace yourself. The surface is pilly like an overwashed shirt, or goosebumps, and soon you’re nearly at the top, and your dad watches as you struggle to find purchase in the final steep curl, but doesn’t reach out a hand. He knows you like to do things yourself, believes you can, and this is why you love him.
The next part is the best, the slide down the wave’s back. Your dad pushes off first, then you, and it’s glorious, the cold speed as you fly downwards, fly and fly, your momentum nudging you up the next pitch, then bumping you back into the cup of the trough. You both sit, panting and laughing. It’s better than a slide. It’s better than anything. When you were in motion, you could almost forget that you are now different, damaged.
“Again,” you say, and your dad nods. The two of you mount the next slope, and the next, and each time you are faster to the top, your limbs learning the trick of ascent. Each time you careen nearly weightless into the space between, you feel the perfect untethering.
Then your dad says, “We’ve gone far enough. Time to head back, dudette.”
But you’re not ready for anything but this, how your body can send you forward. Already you’re climbing again.
Wendy Elizabeth Wallace (she/they) is a queer disabled writer. She grew up in Buffalo, New York, and has landed in Connecticut by way of Pennsylvania, Berlin, Heidelberg, and Indiana. They are the editor-in-chief of Peatsmoke Journaland the co-manager of social media and marketing for Split Lip Magazine. Their work has appeared in The Rumpus, ZYZZYVA, Pithead Chapel, SmokeLong Quarterly, Brevity, and elsewhere. Say hi on Twitter @WendyEWallace1 or at www.wendywallacewriter.com.