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Family Legacy

This one-pager started with a prompt of "toe" or "tow."

Lucy dipped her toes into the water, and just like Goldilocks when experiencing Baby Bear’s porridge, she declared it “just right.” She opened her robe and let it slip to the floor before allowing foot number two to join its twin. “Well, not exactly twin,” she thought, “or, at least, not identical.” She slid her body along the smooth wall of the claw foot tub, lowering it until only her head and the tops of her knees showed.

Closing her eyes, Lucy practiced the deep breathing she’d learned as a child - In, 2, 3, 4 and out, 2, 3, 4… in, 2, 3, 4 and out, 2, 3, 4. It only took a minute for the even breaths and warm water to do its magic. Leisurely, she reached for the washcloth on the towel rack and lowered it into the soapy oasis. Once it was saturated, she dragged it along her arms from shoulder to fingertips, up one side and down the other, following the contours of her body. First the left arm, then the right. Neck, chest and swollen belly followed suit before extending the left leg and then the right.

Halfway down her right leg, she stopped. Not a full stop, more a hesitation, but she felt her body stiffen just the same. She held her right leg out of the water, resting her foot on the edge of the tub. Soap sud mountains slid off either side, rounding a calf or thigh depending on their position, until the leg and foot were bare.

The scar was more noticeable in the bathroom lighting. Crimson and jagged, like the mark of Zorro (only not as cool), the two inch mark stretched along the top inside edge of her foot near her big toe.

“Polydactyly,” the doctor had called it, matter-of-factly. “It’s more common than you think. Often runs in families.” “Not in MY family,” her mother had said, the look of horror clear on her face. As an infant, the extra toe was too small to worry about, but as Lucy grew, it grew. Her mother successfully ignored it until she reached school age at which point other children, and their mothers, started to take note.

One scorching summer day at the town pool, Lucy noticed some of the moms speaking in loud whispers and glancing in her direction. Her mother also noticed. She walked right up to them and asked what they were talking about. One brave soul, who obviously did not know Lucy’s mother very well, pointed out the extra appendage with the comment, “If she were MY child, I’d have had that taken care of by now. It’s disgusting!”

Without batting an eye, her mother looked the woman up and down and said, loudly, “If she were YOUR child, she would be more concerned with figuring out which POOL BOY was her FATHER.” And with that Lucy and her mother left the town pool, never to return. Surgery was scheduled a few weeks later, but the damage was already done. Lucy would forever be known as the weirdo with six toes. The following year the family moved to a town an hour away, where no one had heard of Lucy or her extra toe. She was grateful to her parents for making that sacrifice, knowing she would do the same if she had to.

Lucy’s big toe found the stopper chain and gave it a tug. Water drained methodically, swirling towards the silver ring at the bottom until the final glug. She stood carefully, mindful of the slippery cast iron, and threw one leg over the side, then the other. Slowly, she bent down to pick up the robe and wrap it around her baby bump. The sonogram might not have shown anything abnormal, but she knew it was there. She patted her belly and said out loud, “It’s okay, little one, I got you.”


May 20, 2023

I love your bold descriptive emotional writing!!! Great blog Bets! 👏❤️

May 23, 2023
Replying to

Thank you so much! xo

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