The Day I Lose My Arm

Avery Felman

The day I lose my arm, I’m running on the waterfront park in my neighborhood. You should know that I’m not a paranoid person, but occasionally I let my mind wander. Today, I imagine the toe of my running shoe catching on a pothole on one of those streets they’re constantly ripping up and repaving under the Brooklyn Bridge. I imagine falling mouth first onto the corner of the cement and watching my teeth scatter the sidewalk. I imagine reaching for eye drops first thing in the morning—only it’s nail glue, my eyes sealed shut, as I frantically feel around in the dark of my own body. I imagine being stabbed on the subway, but that doesn’t take much imagination.

There’s white spit caking the corners of my mouth while I try hard not to breathe through it. And then my distance timer rings through my headphones as I pass a man with a dog. Suddenly, there’s more gravity on the right side of my body. The dog (a poodle, I think?) is clamped onto my arm, threatening to drag the rest of my body down with it. The man, the owner, who at first looks surprisingly unconvinced of any danger, begins pulling at the leash without success. I’m also pulling, but the other way. I can’t help but laugh at how ridiculous it must have looked: Us two teetering back and forth, in a game of tug of war. How unlikely for the dog to be the rope.

I remember reading a news article a few years ago about a teenage girl whose lips were ripped off by the family Golden Retriever, and briefly, I’m grateful. A year later, I skimmed another article about how the experience helped her “refine what beauty means.” I closed my laptop before I got to the before and after photos. Everyone I spoke to about the story said the same thing: A Golden Retriever? The breed, I’m told, doesn’t matter.

I try to wrestle my phone out of the plastic pouch strapped to my arm, but it’s nearly impossible without being double-jointed. I yell out something that’s more noise than words and begin to smack the poodle on the head. Out of options, the man drops the leash, runs toward us, and shouts, “Don’t!” to whom, I don’t know.

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Avery Felman is a writer and devoted mother to a very special cat. She lives in Brooklyn, like all the rest.