“Lift,” by Bridgett Jensen

The grass is so green it’s damp, like it’s making water. Your toes, bare in flip-flops, are wet.

Your son Carter talks 100 miles a minute as your feet keep time. The two of you are walking the pugs. When you came out the back door, Carter stood beneath the basketball hoop, tossing the ball up. He’s ten, and he follows a formula. So many shots up—so many baskets in. He does this every evening until he’s got it right.

Tonight it went well, or he wouldn’t be walking with you. You don’t ask about his shooting, don’t want to know the formula. Or why he does it. Maybe if you don’t name it, the compulsion will fade away. The way dusk fades to dark.

Pugs are stubborn as they are sweet. They stiffen their short legs and plant their feet, their thick heft close to the ground. Good luck moving the big one when he stops, sniffs, and licks at clinging moisture. You are glad for Carter’s company, for his hold on one of the leashes. He’s stronger than he looks. All skinny legs and arms, he reminds you of a mosquito–the spindly house mosquitoes that slide all leggy along walls.

It’s been a good day, plenty of sun, little agitation. You are walking dogs through tall grass while Carter talks basketball. You half-listen—his voice a reassuring hum in the dimming sun. Each step on the spongy earth releases a damp mist that rises around your feet.

You half-listen, but you are not preoccupied, do not worry thoughts like a thread, do not tally tasks yet undone. You are not dreading the evening ritual of brushing teeth, washing faces, fussing about bedtimes. Neither are you lost in tomorrow. You just are.

That is when you reach over and rest your hand on Carter’s head. Tonight, he is the perfect height for this. You tousle his shaggy bowl of blonde hair as if he’s said something that tickles you and drop your hand to his shoulder, pull him close. He relaxes in a way that he will unlearn soon enough. You walk.

Depression lifts like this. It’s that moment when the word you have been trying to locate comes to you, and you shake your head in wonder. It’s a word you use all the time. It’s that moment you no longer perceive a lack. Back in the body, you realize you never left.

You realize you have been here all along.

You do not experience the lifting. Only that the lift has occurred.

You walk home through the field. The pugs tug you toward the back door. In the house, someone has turned on a light.


Printed with permission from Bridgett Jensen, copyrighted by Bridgett Jensen @ 2013. This piece originally appeared in Issue No. 14 of the Los Angeles Review.

Author: A Room of Her Own

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