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June 11, 2024

How to Fall

Amy Strong


Walk your dog real quick before your first Zoom meeting of the day. As the dog pauses for a shit, think about the lady in the coffeeshop yesterday, talking loudly to a FaceTime she decided to take on speaker. Wish you had given in to your urge to smash her face into the chicken salad on half an avocado that she was eating. Judge her for bowing her head and praying over it before she ate it. Judge her for telling her FaceTime caller that she got pregnant when she was 16 but “lost the baby.” Tell her, loudly in your head, Bitch, you had an abortion. Notice too late that the edge of your foot is precariously tipped on the side of a curb. Feel your ankle twist and roll. Think that it’s not supposed to move that way. Judge yourself for always doing shit like this, for falling in public on a street six minutes before a Zoom call. Remember the last time you did this to an ankle, on your honeymoon, how you ended up in a hospital in Tulum. Wonder what your ex-husband is doing. Wonder if the loud woman in the coffeeshop is divorced too. Probably. Lurch your body to the left, towards gravity. Wonder if you’re really going all the way down or if you can catch yourself. See the horizon bend 20 degrees, 30 degrees, now 45. Drop the dog leash and stretch your left arm out towards the asphalt, elbow stiff. Think about the time your previous dog got off leash and mauled a shih tzu. Dread the idea of that same old lady taking you to court again to put your dog down. Is it really your fault that her dog looks like prey? Continue your clumsy arc, your downward acceleration. Remember the formula for the velocity of a falling object. Notice the horizon again, now at 75 degrees off kilter. Let out a WHOOOPP! Make it too loud, a yawp. Be embarrassed about who may have heard it, standing at their kitchen counter, finishing their morning coffee. Let the word yawp make you think of that movie about the boarding school boys, the sad one with Robin Williams in it, where he quotes Walt Whitman, “I sound my barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world!” Wonder if your yawp was barbaric and how many rooftops it reached. Feel the impact first, a jolt of kinetic energy reversing through your bones, your wrist, your arm, your shoulder. Feel the gravel and glass of the street surface enter your palm. Now feel your velocity reach zero. Watch your dog watch you in concern, head tilted. Was the yawp for him? Curse softly and dust off your hands, your knees as you stand up. Laugh a little. Grab the leash. Bag up the shit. Bow your head and limp home to your Zoom call, to the makings of some chicken salad in the fridge, to the soft avocado, ripening on the counter.