Ethan rhythmically worked his dead legs to the music. Through first dances and last, slow processions and boogies, the wedding reception swirled and swayed around him, everyone making sure to smile at him, wave, uneasily touch his frame. His daughter wrapped her arms around him and wet his cheek with a kiss.
“This is the spot where your mother and I first danced,” he said, pointing a sure finger at the spot of dirt right below his wheelchair. “There’s where your grandmother sang for the summer revivals. Over there…” He looked at the new bride who dreamily looked back. He patted her hand in acknowledgment. She already knew the history. “This whole field is full of magic. Go drink with your husband.”
She kissed him again and left.
Field of magic, where grade-school recitalists played like prodigies, where chain-smoking croakers hit falsettos, where Ethan’s senior year he’d been able to tap dance his way through girls’ loosened corsets and under their shimmering ruffles. Ethan lifted his legs from the confines of the chair and let his shoes brush the ground.
“Whoa, champ. Need some help?” Cousin Paul, MD, put Ethan back in place, smelling of wine and doctorly condescension.
“Just phantom feeling. Nothing to worry about.” Ethan smiled and wheeled away. Phantom feeling, like numbly swimming through slushy ice. He wheeled around the stage platform and, making sure he was out of sight, used his arms to grab the scaffolding and pull himself out of his chair. He climbed, already at seven feet when Paul came around. Shocked and desperate, Paul outstretched his arms.
“Don’t even try. You’ll never catch me.” Ethan dropped, his legs greeting the ground with a loud crunch.
Field of magic. As Paul yelled for help, Ethan smiled as his toes wiggled to the music.