Grown Up

I’m lying on the floor, languid as a corpse. I practice not breathing, and can feel my heart slowing. Slowing. Then I feel the need to stretch, and I stretch so violently that my molars click against each other like one of those wind-up dentures. The feeling of unmitigated sloth is delicious. I’ve always enjoyed a good stretch on the floor. It’s convenient, it’s flat, and the low viewpoint provides a most favorable perspective of a room. As a matter of personal aesthetic, I’ve preferred an inferior perspective since I was quite young. My adolescent height gains only made me more conspicuous, and allowed me to see over everything at will. Where’s the adventure in that? When one is small, everything is a potential maze, which is one reason why, every now and again, I appreciate a return to a more grounded point of view.

I roll onto my chest, and support myself on my elbows, looking down the carpeted hall. This is how varmints see the world, I think. Varmints and critters, bugs and babies. I wonder how quickly I could pull myself down the hall using only my elbows. What if that were my only means of locomotion? Properly motivated, I suppose I could get moving pretty quickly, but this is an untested theory. It might also cause undue strain to the tissue of my elbows, for example. There’s no way to accurately anticipate the outcome, so naturally I must commit to the task.

I need a trigger though, something to set me off. There must be something from which to flee. And it comes to me: K. is in the bathroom behind me. When she emerges and notices me there on the floor, that will be my cue to move. I’ll gallop down the hall on my elbows, pulling my useless body after me. How far will I get? I decide that if I can make it as far as the cat food bowls, that will be considered safe. Is it an unrealistic goal? I’ll just have to find out by trying, as I would if my life depended on it.

I am completely still on my elbows, waiting for the click of the door. I am poised to start. I’m looking at the cat food bowls at the other end of the hall, and visualizing my eventual progress toward them. I’m noticing bits of cat food on the carpet. I see a piece of something beneath the refrigerator. My forearms are beginning to tingle.

K. is taking longer in the bathroom than I’d anticipated. But all the more reason to be aware of the click of the door knob. It’s imperative that I pull myself to safety before she can catch me. And in thinking it over, I realize I’m not in the right position to start. One elbow should be slightly in front of the other, and my back should be in a natural position, but stiff. There, now, for the first time in three minutes, I’m truly ready to crawl to freedom. It’s a good thing I had this extra moment to get into the correct starting position. A luxury, some might deem it, but I’ll take what I can get.

It suddenly occurs to me that I’m 36. What does that mean? Other than the fact that it’s not too far from 40, I am preparing to make my escape by pulling myself down my hallway on my elbows. Is this okay? Is it normal? Do my 36 year old friends do the same thing? They certainly don’t talk about it if they do. But what is normal? I have one friend who regularly plays golf. Surely crawling down a hallway on one’s elbows compares favorably to that banal pursuit. Still, how would this rate in terms of life accomplishments?

My friend Ed just bought a house, so maybe I should be doing that instead of lying prone in the hallway. Or, maybe one of the criteria for my friend’s home selection was hallways that he could easily negotiate if incapacitated from the waist down. Give me a house with low friction hallways.

I have another friend of my age who just had her second child, which to my mind is a far more irrational act than the one I’m now contemplating. By the time I’m 50 it may not even be possible for me to pull off such a maneuver, at least not with the same cold determination or brutal efficiency. No, it seems to me that I’m at the perfect age to accomplish this feat. I’ve never been healthier, physically or mentally. So homes and children be damned.

As far as whether such behavior is common, I have no real basis for reference. I never imagined it would come to this though. It never seemed plausible to me as a child that someone of my advanced age would participate in activities unless they specifically contributed to soul-obliterating boredom. On the other hand, I would hesitate to call my endeavor frivolous. Pushing the limits can be illuminating. Seeing things from another perspective broadens one’s appreciation for…

Where is she anyway? I wring my hands, which are now prickling from lack of circulation. This puts me at a great disadvantage. I’m liable to break my bones during my escape and not even realize it. I imagine lying at the safe point panting, sleeves ripped, with open fractures at each bloody elbow. Those stakes are too high, yet I feel a surge of adrenaline at the same time.

And there’s the click of the door. I wait for her to notice. That will be my starting gun. I wait for it. Then: “Sweetie?”

Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! I’m already half way down the hall, but moving at far less efficient a pace than I’d hoped for. There is much exertion for not so much locomotion. But I think I can make it to the cat food bowls with time to spare.

Related Tales

» “Being You” (01 of Jan, 2005)
» “A Hero's Lament” (09 of Dec, 2004)
» “Failure” (14 of Jun, 2004)


  • i must say i have never read anything so close to the dialog that i have in my head. i never want to know it, if this is a complete work of fiction that is not based on one ounce of personal experience. Let me just wallow in my belief that there are others that crawl the floors with me!

I have one friend who regularly plays golf. Surely crawling down a hallway on one’s elbows compares favorably to that banal pursuit