He stood, watching the sun burn out. Well. In his mind he stood. He remembered what it was like to stand. He remembers standing. How his legs felt, which muscles engaged, he never noticed. What is it to stand, anyway?
He sat in his wheelchair, aware. He felt the cold. He saw the cold. He saw the nurse leaning down next to him, looking out. There she was. And where was he?
He sat in his wheelchair, trapped. His legs were there. He used to will them to move, and they would. He’d try to figure out exactly how it happened. Move, legs. And they’d move. How? Move, legs. And they didn’t. Did he ever have the urge to sneeze? He didn’t know anymore.
In his own body. There he was, reduced only to a thought. A thought that could not manifest. If a person is a mind, he should have been a person. But a mind without a body. Well.
A year ago he had been skiing. In Aspen, with his wife—his sweet, beautiful wife—three vibrant kids. The first day of a two-week trip. The snow was groomed but icy. He took caution and stayed on the greens. His littlest son, fearless, tireless. Just one more run, then they’d all meet up for hot chocolate.
He heard the noise behind him, but it came too fast. The deep carve of a snowboard. It overwhelmed him. It passed. He slid into the column.
He watched it hit his son, who cried, but sat up expectantly, waiting for his father to come console him. He watched his son, and began to stand up to ski over to him.
No. He didn’t.
He thought he did. He went through the motions in his mind, but his body was far away. He called out to his son. Silently. He looked left, then right. Yes, his eyes moved. How did he make his eyes move? He had to know. He had to do the same for his legs.
He felt no pain. He felt nothing. He lay in the snow facing his young son, crying, crying, alone. Twenty feet away, watching, he could not console him. Father.
“Hey kid, are you alright?”
A voice from the chairlift.
Minutes later, a sled. An ambulance, a hospital. They cut off his clothes.
Where is my son? He asked. No one heard him. Where is my son? He asked, louder. He heard a small wheeze, and the nurse turned to him. Effortlessly.
They rarely came to visit. His two teenagers uninterested in witnessing their father wiped like a child, his youngest never seeing clearly through his tears. An unrequited hug for his abandoned wife.
“Are you ready to go back?” asked the nurse, standing up beside his wheelchair. He wanted to hit her. Why does she ask him questions she knows he cannot answer? He looked out once more at the fading sunset before his chair was turned away. He had been ready to go back for a long time.