The Word Is Diversity by Dan Crawley

I’m sitting with my mother this morning at the rehab hospital. She is learning how not to be so vulnerable, using a walker, working at not dragging her leg after her like a heavy sack, lifting small weights over her head. “I can use soup cans at home.” I sit in during her speech therapy session, too. “The reason I’m still here: the right kind of supplements. There’s science-based data backs it up.” The speech therapist smiles, asks her to recite some words my mother had repeated out loud fifteen minutes ago. I can only remember three: violin, desk, truck. She remembers these, plus another one: green. Then my mother tells the speech therapist how I came to be. She had a miscarriage at her doctor’s office. A nurse fished the fetus out of the toilet in their tiny bathroom. A little boy. Her doctor told her to get pregnant again as soon as possible. My mother points a thumb at me. She tells me, “Since you’re here instead of him, listen to me: it’s evidence-based. The other little boy would listen.”

Back in her room, after getting settled in bed, my mother speaks low after the nurse leaves. “I think he’s a her.”

“You mean, transgender?”

Mom tells me to turn on the TV. “Ugh. Turn it off—blah, blah, blah.” The left side of her mouth seems droopier to me, but maybe not.

“They want to end entitlements next,” I say.

“What’s that?” She frowns and is thinking hard. “No, they want to end diservice…diservice….”

I don’t know the word she’s trying for. Lately, it feels like my left side is going numb. And earlier, I couldn’t even remember green.

Dan Crawley’s stories have appeared or are forthcoming in a number of journals, including Wigleaf, matchbook, New World Writing, Jellyfish Review, CHEAP POP, and North American Review. He is a recipient of an Arizona Commission on the Arts creative writing fellowship and has taught fiction workshops and literature courses at various colleges and universities throughout Arizona. He is a fiction reader for Little Patuxent Review.

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