For the last eight months, Dev had looked at the room from a height of two feet and three inches. He knew, because he had measured it repeatedly by the length of his arm, letting his hand drop over the side of the bed until his palm was flat against the floor. He liked the motion. For half a second, he could trick himself into believing he had caught himself, that he was carrying his own weight on his arm, not that he had laid there so long there was a permanent ditch in the middle of the mattress.
His arm was exactly two feet three inches from wrist to shoulder. Lyda had helped him measure, so she could be sure he could reach every gift of water and broth she left him while he was sleeping. He’d liked that, too: the ridiculousness of her stepping so purposefully into the room with her measure string, and the smile she was trying so hard to hide as she moved him, touched him, made him laugh. Then, for a few more afternoons he measured things that did not need measuring, and laughed then too.
Putting his feet over the side of the bed, felt strange. Holding his own weight over feet and ankles whose bones had sharpened, felt strange. Looking at the world from six feet in the air, felt like rising into another room altogether. Bracing himself against the bedpost, he felt as if he should turn a circle, just to be sure of where he was.
Hearing Lyda coming up the stairs, however, Dev took a few careful steps to the door and leaned against the frame.
She slowed when she saw him, came up the last few steps as if she weren’t sure how to carry herself either. Or, so he liked to imagine. He hoped his stride was as smooth as hers. She paused at the top, and leaned an elbow against the banister.
“Well, look at you,” she whispered.
Dev looked down, at narrow wrists and bony knees and oddly crooked toes, all of them stacked upright. Then he smiled up at her. “I’m pretty proud of myself,” he whispered back.
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