Center of Center (26)
a serial novella-in-flash by Chris Wiewiora
Once when Babcia was reading me the duet, she said she believed that a translated poem was a new poem; sometimes something couldn’t be remade with another language.
ORANGE to Base, I radio.
Base copy, Miles says.
10-9. Miles asks me to repeat my message.
I load my mini-bus with a wiry man who shuffles behind his walker from the GREEN to my ORANGE. His T-shirt is too large for his torso. The tail snaps in the wind. A ring of keys clipped to a belt loop of his jeans jangles against his bowed thigh. I wonder how many locks he can open.
Wiry Man stands on my lowered wheelchair lift’s platform and sets his walker’s brake. I activate the hydraulics and he rises as slowly as he shuffles. I stand by as he gets himself seated. I’m available to help, but I won’t unless he asks for it. He plops down and cinches his walker’s brakes. I stow the lift, close the door, and then go.
Before my shift, Babcia holo-linked with me. She probably thought I was done teaching for the week. So much time had passed. She didn’t ask why I hadn’t visited, let alone linked with her, during spring break. I didn’t say. Instead, I apologized for how long it had been, and then she updated me on Pop’s condition.
Pop had suffered a stroke, but Babcia said that the specialists at Loop Hospital now said it had been a series of mini-strokes. Pop didn’t know Polish or English anymore, but Babcia said he had forgotten more than that. Pop had no memory of Ma.
At least he doesn’t have to remember that she’s not here. And I’m here for him, Babcia said. But I don’t want to hear him.
She laughed and then I laughed.