SASHA’S KNEE • by Milan Smith

Sasha’s knee hurt. It was a dull ache, and she rubbed it as she drove, but it got so bad she couldn’t focus and missed the mall entrance. She ground her teeth and went on, still trying to rub the pain away. She reached the second entrance a moment later, but as she turned someone cut her off. Sasha hit the brakes and cried out as she felt razors in her knee. Actually, the pain was just below the knee, and it was a fool like this one–just a year ago–who’d left her in such misery.

She went on, giving the driver extra room until he parked, then drove slowly as she moved through the parking lot, being overly cautious. But it didn’t help. Three high school kids rushed in front of her and she braked, and again her knee throbbed. She swore and banged the horn.

“Brats,” she said. The kids moved aside, and she sped past them.

At the end of the lane, she found a disabled parking space and pulled in. A blond girl about eight years old stood by the car in front, waiting as her mother loaded the trunk.

Sasha stepped out and stood, and though she leaned heavily on the door, she still felt the knee. The blond girl now moved to Sasha’s car and watched. Sasha shut the door and the pain grew as her weight fell full on the leg. The doctor had said it would get better, should get better, but if not, they could try something else. They’d probably have to, Sasha thought, this was too much. If only there weren’t so many fools on the road.

The blond girl walked closer, then stopped and waved her finger. “That’s for hurt people,” she said.

Sasha turned to the blond girl. “You’re bad,” the girl went on, still waving that finger. “You shouldn’t park there.”

The girl wasn’t the first to do that, there’d been others, and all of them children. Adults would stare–after all, they saw no crutches or wheelchair–but it was the children who spoke up. As Sasha listened, she felt the knee throb and her leg trembled. And that finger kept moving.

“You’re a self-righteous little girl,” Sasha said. “Don’t you know that’s one of the seven deadly sins?” The girl paused, wondering, then waved her finger again. “Maybe not,” Sasha said. “I’ll just have to show you.”

So Sasha bent down and reached for the knee, and the girl stopped and watched. Sacha’s fingers were quick and her balance good, so it took just a moment, then the little girl cried out and ran for her mother as Sasha hopped on one leg, laughing, waving her plastic leg like a finger.

Milan Smith has published 23 short stories in such magazines as Lines In the Sand (Sept.-Oct. 2000); PKA’s Advocate (Dec. 2000-Jan. 2001), (Oct. – Nov. 2001), (Apr.-May 2002), and (April-May 2007); Enigma (Fall 2001), The Circle (Winter 2002), and one in a regional zine, Mylxine (#15). Milan says: “After I got my B.S. degree in business from the University of Florida, I worked in the business world for two years, then got job as a reporter at The Destin Log, in Destin, Florida. I’d written poetry and short stories in my spare time for several years up to then, and I finally decided to work at it full-time. I now work a part-time job at night and write during the mornings. I’ve been working on a novel the past few years and am now back to writing stories.”

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