Assignment: Start with something specifically physical, create a scene from there.
The knot above her ankle worried her, but not unduly. After all, it hadn’t hurt when she’d hiked. She hadn’t noticed it when winging a Frisbee across the sand to her oldest son, a teenager, surly indoors, but once outside, occasionally, but not always, some semblance of the child he used to be emerged. This day had been one of the good ones. He’d dive for the Frisbee, laughing as sand exploded around him, waves breaking in the background.
When he was eight, she’d brought him down with a skimboard, lecturing him sternly about how a person needed to be careful.
“Let me try it,” he badgered.
“Hold on, let me show you,” Clarissa countered before attempting to demonstrate. She’d promptly fallen on her ass, cold water soaking her jeans.
“Oh, Mom,” her then-eight-year-old had sighed, offering his hand. He was still concerned back then.
These days, he wouldn’t have the patience to let her demonstrate, much less offer kindness. She didn’t need to show him anything – he was ever so much smarter and cooler than she could ever hope to be. Or so he thought.
“Just do it like this,” Tommy said. He dropped the hackysack from his raised hand, caught it in the crook of his foot for a moment, then flung it toward her. She tried to imitate his move, but missed altogether. The hackysack plopped on the driveway, soft and sad against the cement.
She picked it up and tossed it toward him. He flicked the hackysack from one foot to another. “Watch me stall,” he commanded. Clarissa couldn’t distinguish a stall from anything else he was doing, but she nodded appreciatively nonetheless.
“My ankle hurts,” she told him. “I’m going to go put some arnica on it.”
He didn’t answer, concentrating, she supposed, on perfecting the art of kicking the hackysack from one foot to the other.
She left the sunshine for the coolness of the house. In the bathroom, the breeze tucked around the open window, blew the door shut just after Clarissa had opened it. The tube of arnica sat out – between Tommy’s sports injuries and her general clumsiness, they used it nearly every day. Clarissa sat on the toilet seat, noting the lousy job Tommy had done regarding his assigned chore to “clean the bathroom,” sighed, propped her leg against the sink, then rubbed the ointment over the swelling above her ankle.
When Jonas had slammed into her, the pain had sent her reeling at first, but a few moments later, all had been fine. His heavy boots were inappropriate for swing dancing and especially awkward given he had no more natural grace than Clarissa did, probably less. During a spin, he’d gone one way and she’d gone another and before the instructor could correct them, he’d crashed against her, flinging his left leg into her right, his boot connecting against her skin.
“I’m fine,” she winced through gritted teeth and she had believed it five minutes later, when the pain ebbed into a dull ache. The next day, a bruise arrived, but nothing hurt. A week later, nothing – except this inexplicable knot surrounded by purple swelling.
Tommy banged through the door into the house. “Mom! Come on!” Clarissa sagged. She’d insisted they spend some time together, had imagined an hour of old times, when her son enjoyed her company, wasn’t just whiling the minutes away by torturing her.
“I think I’m done,” she caved, pushing open the bathroom door. “My ankle is all swollen.”
He leaned in, looked. “Yuck. Gross. Can I use the computer?”
“Sure,” she sighed. Why bother pointing out that the floor needed mopping, the shower scrubbing, all the things he was supposed to do?
Clarissa eased her leg down. Maybe some ibuprofen would help the swelling.
The rest, she feared, was hopeless.