Gem

I sat on one of the plastic chairs in the hallway, beside the chair that, for three days has cupped a tiny plastic ruby in its seat. As I swapped my street shoes for my runners, a man stepped from the gym. He wore a baseball cap, Vietnam. He wore pajama bottoms, blue fleece with what appeared to be spacecraft and planets orbiting his legs. He smiled. His eyes were the blue of a robin’s egg, just laid.

“Working my knee,” he told me as if we’d been in the middle of a conversation, as if we knew one other.

I smiled, double-knotting my shoes. “That’s great,” I said. “Congratulations!”

“Replacement surgery.” He nodded and slipped his coat from its hook. “One week ago.” He raised his arm in a farewell. “Have a good day,” he said, walking away.

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