Shallow Dance

by Matty Sullivan

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Things That Hurt

I used to be cool. Sadly, I was not aware of this until much later, when I was no longer cool.

I also used to be younger than I am now. Many people find this hard to believe—myself  included—but it’s true. I used to have more hair, more teeth. I could run faster and jump higher without feeling the pain of impact. When on occasion I did get hurt, it never took me long to recover. All I needed was a nap, at most a night’s sleep, and I was back to full speed.

But now I’m older and the pain just lingers on, hanging around me like an extra piece of clothing. Part of the problem is that I keep doing things that hurt. I play softball, which is a rather low-impact sport, but it involves running and throwing, both of which result in soreness. Most likely, the soreness would go away if I took a break from the game—say, a month—but I would be so unhappy. It’s one of the few regularly-scheduled things in my life which I am happy about. Besides, the pain is not terrible—just ever-present—so it’s still worth it to me. One of these days it won’t be, and I will be very sad indeed.

Another way I keep hurting myself is by slumping when I sit, usually while writing or watching a movie. I guess I’ve always done it, even as a kid. But that’s when I was as young and flexible as a soft, green tree. I had no trouble with back pain. The idea of it was ridiculous. I slumped like a snail and never had reason to regret it. But now that I’m older, five minutes of slumping fucks me right up. Fortunately, when I’m standing or walking, I have decent posture. I guess work is the exception. It’s true that I spend all my time at work standing, but I have to lean over a counter with my arms down in front of me. You see, I make sandwiches for a living. I usually enjoy it, but it surely fucks with my posture. When I’m not working, I try to counteract this problem by walking around with my head craned back and my arms stretched wide, like an egret displaying for a mate. I hope it’s helping. Otherwise I look ridiculous for no reason.

I guess it could be worse. I could be dead. But who knows? Maybe that will be an improvement. It’s safe to assume my pains will stop when I die. Man, it would suck if they didn’t. I’d be stuck with them for eternity, bound to wander the world a ghost, lost in a haze of pain, moaning all the while.

“Mama, I saw a ghost!”

“Now don’t be silly. There’s no such thing as ghosts.”

“No, for real. He looked like a bird trying to dance.”