I didn’t realize I was falling when I stepped off that curb. A man and a woman picked me up, each taking an arm. As I struggled to stand, the woman said, “Sit down,” and pointed to the supermarket, to an empty green shelf that was used to display fruit in the summer months.

Not me. I was only a block from home. My legs moved slowly, stiffly, down the street until I got to the brownstone where I lived. I was fine. No one was going to make me into an old woman.

When I started up the steps, my leg buckled under me. Luckily, I managed to land sitting up on the bottom step, both legs stretched out in front of me. The left one bent at an unusual angle and throbbed with a pain I’d never known. I took out my phone and dialed 911.

The December wind cut right through me. It was late afternoon and starting to get dark. Where was the ambulance?

My kneecap must be broken. No, the pain was a little above that, in the lower thigh. A cast would be needed, or worse, a titanium plate. I knew somebody who had one of those, and I dismissed her injury as carelessness. She shouldn’t have run so fast.

My husband, now ex, told me my engagement ring would be sturdy, would clasp the diamond more securely. I’d returned the ring long ago, after he’d had a fling with cocaine. I’d power my own resilience. The ring was made of titanium.

I called my son and he ran down from upstairs, dropping a green key fob on the top step. After retrieving it, he came and sat with me.

When he was little, I’d waited with him for the ambulance when he could hardly breathe. Now that he’d outgrown asthma, it was my turn, though I didn’t want it to be.

I wasn’t indestructible anymore.

He grasped my hand the way he had when he was a little boy. I pulled my hat further down over my ears. He adjusted the hood of his parka. Together we sat on the brownstone steps, waiting for the paramedics.

Elizabeth Morse

Elizabeth Morse is a writer who lives in New York’s East Village. Her work has been published in literary magazines such as The Raven’s Perch and Hazmat Review, and anthologies such as Crimes of the Beats and The Unbearables Big Book of Sex. She has her MFA from Brooklyn College and supports her writing with a job in information technology.