Man & Machine

When they let him out of rehab in New York, our son comes upstate to live with Carla and me for a while. In two weeks it’ll be his thirty-second birthday. Bobby doesn’t want any more birthdays, though. Bobby wishes the plane crash had killed him.

Since both his legs were amputated, he rolls his pants up to where his knees used to be, fastening them shut with safety pins from a small plastic case he keeps in his pocket, alongside the daily pack of cigarettes he started smoking after the crash. He ordered them online, a box of ten cartons he stores at the foot of his bed in the dining room, where he’s forced to sleep until we have a lift installed. At the hospital he lost weight, sweated constantly, his heart gripped by two bouts of arrhythmia during the operations. Afterward they shaved his head to suture the cut that runs from above his brow to the base of his skull, staples traveling the path like tiny railroad ties. Still, they say he might walk again someday, with a pair of artificial limbs.

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