What Happens When You Don't Play Ball
by Janice Daugharty
Copyright Janice Daugharty 2010
The wheel chairs shape out a bad circle. Like children playing Ring Around the Roses or Drop the Handkerchief. Except that the chairs are manned by old, old ladies. A yellow ball, plump as a new moon, bounces and woggles within the ring. A rouged-up lady cased in white knit pants catches it in both hands and bounces it hard toward the center—no aim—to show that she is really into it, this rehab therapy or exercise or whatever the hell it is. The ball spins up before a long-bodied, long-faced woman with insect eyes. She doesn’t even look at it.
A black woman in a green attendant’s uniform squeals, “Catch it, Miss Faye! Catch it!” She gets paid for saying that.
Miss Faye doesn’t even look at her.
The ball bounces into the bull’s eye of the circle again and another lady catches it on the rebound. She cackles and pitches it willy-nilly and it rolls between the wheels of two chairs and across the waxed tile floor of the huge glassed-in therapy room, all chrome and white with a few no-name children’s pictures to make the place look homey and justified. Murmur of voices from the flat black vinyl beds along the walls where other green uniformed therapists are working over kinked legs and bodies of the should-be dead.
The room reeks of antiseptic and old flesh.
Miss Faye suffers the ball another frolic in her direction, then backs her chair from the circle, turns and guides it toward the open double doors.