By Michael Kozart
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Nobody is aware of why crystals kind in my proper massive toe. My physician says they arrive from issues I eat: meat, beer, stuff with fructose. However I’m vegetarian, don’t drink, and don’t have a candy tooth. Doc additionally says the crystals usually dissolve, although in my case, they filter out—into my toe, inflicting irritation. I’ve a illness of filtration. However why not an ear or elbow as a substitute of the toe? Doc hasn’t a clue. All I do know is that it hurts greater than if I bunched collectively all of the instances I ever stubbed my toe—and I imply all of the toes.
In mattress at evening, I cup my proper foot into the only real of my left foot. It’s like a squirrel curled in a nest. That is the one place that offers me some aid, but it surely’s not sufficient. I hardly sleep. Once I do, my desires are transient however horrifying. For instance, final week I used to be a prisoner—not in jail however in a camp that had nothing to do with roasted marshmallows or tents by a lake. Filtration camps, they name them.
Slipping my foot into and out of a shoe is excruciating. Weight bearing, almost unimaginable. I analysis extra-wide footwear with roomy fronts to scale back strain across the toe, buying a pair of purple, yellow, and inexperienced sneakers that appear like scaled-down jalopies. Now I can stroll simpler, however I’m nonetheless in ache. I can’t focus or sit nonetheless, and I’ve a desk job. Work is unimaginable. I look ahead to an eviction order, ashamed that life might be upturned by a toe (admittedly the large one) whereas others wrestle with issues far better than mine.
Folks snort after they see me. I fear it’s as a result of I’ve a illness. Nonsense, Doc says. It’s simply the sneakers: they’re humorous. He makes jokes, like he heard that Ronald McDonald awoke barefoot, and now there’s an APB out for some new clown promoting burgers.
In the meantime, my landlord calls for the hire. He doesn’t care that I can’t work: enterprise is enterprise. If that’s an issue, there’s at all times a cardboard field for a house—his phrases, not mine. By the way in which, he provides, can the sneakers make waffles?
I exploit what’s left of my financial savings on a bodysuit with rainbow polka dots, grease paint, and a kind of purple bulbous noses formed sarcastically like my toe—plus equipment: a bicycle horn with a squeezable bulb that appears like a hiccup, a mini umbrella on a candy-cane publish, and a water squirting boutonnière. I additionally study the artwork of balloon sculpture from the web. It’s tough to pay attention by means of all of the ache, however I grasp a big number of animals and zany hats. I put up posters within the neighborhood.
Calls flood in. Apparently, there’s no lack of birthday events, but an actual scarcity of certified entertainers. Youngsters suppose it’s wacky the way in which I stroll—or quite hobble. Dad and mom yell bravo. With all of the grease paint on my face, nobody sees me sweat, grimace, cry. Shoppers supply me hotdogs and Coke throughout breaks, stuff that I shouldn’t eat, that I by no means eat. I roll with the punches. Generally I even say, Sensible man, eh? Folks snort.
I hold taking the drugs. Doc says be affected person. It’s only a matter of time earlier than the crystals dissolve. He needs me to belief him. Be affected person.
After 4 months, the swelling subsides, and the ache in my toe shifts. It’s not a sizzling steel spike. Extra like a vice grip. I can bear that. I sit at a desk once more and faucet on the keyboard, able to return to my common job, which provides advantages and alternatives to advance. I grasp up the go well with and field the equipment. There’s nonetheless the matter of the sneakers. I don’t need to allow them to go.
What’s with the treads? folks ask. Are they higher than snowshoes? Do they blink cease, gradual, go? They’re comfy, I reply. And I’m used to them. Apart from, Doc says that my illness may flare up any time, even with the correct meds and eating regimen, so I would like to remain ready. What higher method than to maintain the sneakers on? Once I go to the break room, coworkers gained’t look me within the eye. They conceal smirks and guffaws behind espresso cups and Kleenex as they stare at my sneakers. I suppose they anticipate me to drag out my very own tissue, a daisy chain of multi-colored, calico patterned hankies.
Generally, inside my house, I rehearse my routine, spinning dishes or wedging myself in a folding chair I can’t get out of. Who is aware of once I’ll must go well with up once more to make ends meet? However all this makes noise, and the downstairs neighbors complain. My landlord says I must cease clowning round. He’s given me two warnings. Subsequent time might be an eviction. I’m afraid to twist balloons for concern they’ll pop.
I nonetheless haven’t found out the supply of the crystals. It could possibly be the faucet water: pipes in our constructing are rusty. Even when I knew for positive, somebody has but to clarify why these crystals filter into my toe. Doc says it doesn’t matter: I’m getting higher. You don’t want to grasp illness to make it go away, he says. Loosen up. Life could possibly be worse. I’m unsure he takes me significantly. Not that I’d want ache on anybody, however how would he react to a shiny purple lightbulb for a toe? I’ll hand him a rubber hen, plucked after all, and say, Who’s laughing now, clever man?