The lofting smell of burning charcoal was reminiscent to a time when walking occurred without thought. If she closed her eyes and concentrated long enough she could take herself back. Far back into her memory housed a time of great uncertainty and carelessness. It wasn’t without its bliss. What had ruined it for her, hurtful remarks about her legs. Her legs, the legs she was born with were always a source of embarrassment to her. She was careful to cover them, she was careful to keep them out of the sun. Her excuse was her fair skin but the reality was her vanity and the possibility of more hurtful remarks.
On the school yard kids had called her popeye legs because her calves were large and bulging. She thought it was muscle but it was really a malformation of tissue. When all she really wanted was to be normal like all the other girls, to run with speed and enthusiasm, she was left with bulging legs and barely able to skip let alone run. She was chosen last on every sport. She really did not mind being last. she really had no interest in playing at all. Her true interests lay elsewhere.
Her fate was not to improve, even though at the time she believed she might. She tried secretly to run hoping it would get easier. It never did. Her lungs burned and she would feel the wave come over her. The wave was not easy to block mentally. At times it was all she could do to sit or lay in the grass and soak up the heat from the earth. It soothed her to be so close to the earth. The closer she was to the ground the easier it would become to disappear. She desired to melt right into the body of the earth and be reborn into someone else entirely. Someone without a unique identifier.
As a very young adult she had gone to the beach with her mother and her aunt. It was there that she heard a group of her peers remark on her legs. “She’s going to have terrible legs when she gets older.” Look at her mother’s legs? It didn’t matter to them who was who, it was obvious to them that one of the two middle aged women was probably her mother. They all shared similar traits. The remark was followed up by a seagull relieving its bowels in flight and his deposit landing right on her face. The humiliation was too great to bare at that time. Now being the age her mother was then, she could reflect back on it and brush the whole thing off as nonsense. She had hardened her soft outer shell from her youth. All that remained now a thick protective armor that few could penetrate. No one bothered with her legs they were too busy look at the mechanical mass she had become.
Life had been sure to hurdle enough embarrassment at her that she no longer felt its affects or gave it the credence she once had.
Terrrible legs, popeye legs, how they would never know what those words meant to her or how those words would shape her code. How they would never understand the source of pain she would carry in her cells and how those cells would transform themselves into cells that would not be able to carry her. She would go to a wheelchair and remain mobile because that technology existed in her lifetime. Why had she allowed the comments of others to point out her unique identifier and why had she believed it bad. Would it have been so wrong to insist that this unique identifier actually made her special? The word “terrible” had not actually been their word but it was indeed the word she heard and it stayed with her like an obvious birthmark.
It would affect every decision she would make for a good portion of her life.
Everything would remove her from contention in her own personal beauty contest. She would never be in first place with herself or with anyone else. It crumbled her image. It removed her desire for anything normal. She would forgo motherhood because she believed she would have nothing to offer. She would even forgo a normal life as a wife. Sure she managed to marry but her dependency would plague her marriage and leave her exhausted from the eggshells and worry that she might lose her husband. All this negative energy would carry her through childhood and leave her in adulthood. It was her adult self that realized the nonsense and insisted on putting a stop to her faulty thinking. It was after all faulty thinking. If she looked deeply into the eyes of her thoughts she could see as plain as day how those thoughts had manifested into reality. The waste of not realizing that she was trading one monster for another and all she had to do was change her mind.
In her mind she became the best wife to her husband and she had him almost convinced of this fact. She became a good mentor to woman who would be the age her children would be now. She would see herself happy and grateful for all of the gifts she had been given and she no longer despised any part of her body. It was her body and she was grateful to have it.