MORNING COFFEE 32 - fish cracker

By Susan Weber

Today after swimming I opened the door of a locker next to mine to hang my suit and goggles on. Exactly centered on the locker's floor lay a lone fish cracker. It took me back to a friend I made fresh out of nursing school.

My first siting of a fish cracker was on this friend’s front porch. As her young son from a short-lived marriage slept inside, Cindy and I nibbled gold fishes from a shallow bowl, sharing secrets as new friends sometimes do. Her perfect teeth, chestnut curls, and flawless symmetry of features seemed out of place in the emergency room that employed us both. With her height and leanness, had her life taken different turns, she might have made a fortune as a model.

She was telling me about her date with a resident she’d met through work. I knew him too; he was burly and slouched and spoke a lugubrious English tinged with Lebanese. Or, given my sketchy retrieval skills, maybe his accent was Albanian or Turkish or whatever the sultans of Zanzibar speak. Her excitement that he’d deigned to spend the night with her surprised me, though I most likely kept this to myself. Wasn’t the lumpy somewhat arrogant ER resident in her debt when it came to the bestowal of favors? I took another goldfish and thought about practical considerations. She had a child to raise and the M.D. attached to the gentleman’s name made him a very good catch. Cindy told me later that he hadn’t called again. I sometimes wondered if her classic good looks kept men away. Who had the nerve to cozy up to perfection, let alone ask it to dance?

When I married the love of my life, Cindy gave us a large red spherical egg secured with a sturdy strap. The two halves broke apart to release a set of brightly colored plastic dishes. I kept the scarlet wrapping paper imprinted with tiny white hearts until it tore at the creases and lost its sheen. We took the red ball to beach outings, lawn concerts, cookouts, and untold breakfast picnics by the lake through a lifetime of kids and friends and family on holidays large and small. Exotic fare like pinot noir, gatorade, hot dogs, and shish kabobs occupied the smooth, bright surfaces that made our memories even more real.

I might say that Cindy and I lost track of each other somewhere along the way, except for how a wayward fish cracker brings her vividly to mind. She’s swum along beside us, silent but persistent in practical consideration for our lives together. I wish I could tell her how significant her confidence in us has been.

Photo by Nick Hobgood CC BY-SA 3.0