Motherland

The dispatcher doesn’t call in the accident as an emergency, and it takes half an hour for the ambulance to arrive. She isn’t having a heart attack or a stroke. She hasn’t fallen in the street. There is no blood. She’s conscious. My mother is sitting on the floor near the front door to her Upper West Side apartment, one foot twisted grotesquely out of joint. A bit of light-brown bone nudges through the taut, papery skin. The other foot, the good one, is slowly swelling from a metatarsal fracture.

She had spent the day walking. She stood, she said, and that’s all she did: Both feet were asleep. They caught, tangled, and twisted when she got up from the couch, where she was watching Joan Fontaine in Rebecca.

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