Sunday, August 10, 2003

high jump

I worked at a childrens museum for five years, and tried to be a mirror for the light in all those eyes that came through the place. One day i was working/walking through, and a small blonde barely walking boy was struggling to reach the very bottom of an instrument that measures "How High Can You Jump." The exhibit/thing didnt take into consideration that really small people would want to emulate the rest of us, and his family had moved on to another more engaging computer based exhibit. This child was preverbal, so i went over and set up the thing so that he could reach the inch wide metal flippers and just knock them down. He just smacked them with his hand, and I would set them up again, not a word was said besides "yeah," and "gurgle." a few minutes of this and some family noticed that he was interacting with a stranger. I faded instantly into a name tag and a uniform, but as i turned away I saw my boss watching me.
Mary was a single mother who had lost her second child to miscarriage. We shared an office when i managed the museum's hot dog concession, and I told her my story when her loss was the obvious emptyness that no one ever spoke of. We ate salt together. Shortly after, she engaged, married and concieved a child with the carpenter who built most of the museum's exhibits. She was in her third term when I turned around and saw her there, watching me.
For a tiny moment we locked eyes, and saw each other, as men and women have recognized each other through eternity. Unspeakbly in love with life. We both cracked in a nano-second, before the tears, and walked in opposite directions.
Neither of us ever spoke of that moment; though later, she tried to set me up with a friend, who eventually married the man who fired me from the museum. He was the jealous type. Mary cried while he dismissed me. I have never seen either of them since. That little boy must be twelve by now. Who can say what heights he will reach.

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