February 8, 2010
Carl scooped the fresh salsa with a tortilla chip. “Mmmp… yeah… good.”
“Okay, let’s pretend Carl is making the salsa,” Audrey said. “What would Carl do?”
“Carl would add a teensy drop of Scorned Woman Hot Sauce and a squeeze of lime.” He squeezed her, and she adjusted to his taste.
“Don’t eat it all,” Evan said behind them. He wore his running clothes. “I’ll be back to watch your Colts get ba-roken in the third quarter.”
“Ba-ha-ha,” Carl said through a mouthful of chips.
Evan’s park run had become so routine that his brain was freed from thinking about his legs and his lungs, free to think about her. Her. He’d only encountered her twice—the mortifying flip over her wheelchair at the park, the glimpse of her at the movie snack bar—so he had no choice but to come back day after day, just on the chance—
She was sitting quietly on the swings. Her wheelchair was next to her, out of the way. She hadn’t seen Evan yet, and she wouldn’t see him if he didn’t come out from behind that tree.
• • • • •
Audrey reached for a broccoli sprig from the veggie plate. “Replay, replay,” she said. Carl took the Super Bowl footage back sixty seconds.
“Yep, best commercial so far,” she said, and looked at the clock. “Where is that kid?”
• • • • •
The clouds were bold, with shaggy cloudlets that seemed to be torn off of the big ones. Evan sat in the middle swing, next to the girl, watching the sky.
“Do you know about fractals?” she asked. Her long hair fell back as she held onto the swing chains.
“They’re patterns in nature that repeat themselves at all different scales. Like a whole snowflake looks like one point of the snowflake looks like one piece of the point of the snowflake, and theoretically the structure stays the same no matter how small it gets.”
“Until it melts,” he said.
• • • • •
Evan got home in time to notice the fractal pattern in a piece of broccoli before the Saints intercepted the ball and won 31-17. Evan collected ten bucks from his dad, who admitted that New Orleans had brought to the field in this one game what they had brought all season long. Every player had brought it to the team, and the team had brought it to the city, and the city felt whole again.
©2010 Pam Wells