Even as Diana was getting older, she believed no serious illness or injury would touch her. She didn’t think she was immortal, exactly. She wasn’t Diana, the resilient Roman goddess of the hunt, for whom she was named. But she minimized pain as best she could, treating even a deep paring knife wound at home and preferring local anesthesia on the rare occasion she needed to go to the hospital.

If she were weak, she couldn’t get things done, and she couldn’t be there for her teenage son, Cody, when he was ill or injured. She never expected him to be as durable as she was. When her time came, she would go out without a bruise or blemish. And nothing would hurt.

In November, she and Cody went ice skating in Bryant Park. It was the beginning of the season, and that magical period of deepening winter before the holidays. Cody glided out into the crowd immediately, pushing forward over the glittering ice while Diana stepped awkwardly on her blades. She just wished she were a better skater. In the following months, Cody would go with friends from school. But today, she wanted to keep up with him.

Diana had learned to skate on a lake upstate when she was four. Her father coaxed her to glide rhythmically from one foot to the other. She took such joy in this. Even after her family moved to the city, her father took her to the rinks as well as the frozen lake in Van Cortlandt Park. She went with friends all the way through college.

However, Diana had not kept up. It never occurred to her that her boy would love skating. It probably should have. First, he went with his class. Then his father took him. Then it was her turn.

Cody had circled once around the rink and was moving toward her. She watched his blue coat and curly hair. “Hey!” She called, “Can you teach me to skate again?”

“Sure!” They started out with him explaining that she must push off with one foot, putting her weight on it and gliding. Then she was to keep switching feet, pushing off each time to propel herself forward. “One-two-three! One-two three,” he coaxed, counting to the rhythm. So, she skated, not quite keeping pace with him, but still going at a good clip.

Suddenly, she felt her legs slide out from under her. Quickly, she grasped the railing on the side. Her arm twisted, and she let go. As she skated warily to the exit, pain started near her shoulder. She felt queasy and made her way off the ice as best she could and sat on a bench.

“What’s wrong, Mom?” He was standing in front of her.

“I hurt my arm when I grabbed on.”

“Are you okay to skate?”



The next day, Diana took off from work and went to Dr. Ellen Burke, the primary care doctor she’d gone to for years. She’d loaded up on Ibuprofen for the visit. After the exam, she sat in the office. Dr. Burke adjusted her dark-framed glasses. “I’m going to ask you again,” Dr. Burke said. “What’s your pain on a scale from one to ten?”


“It couldn’t be broken. If it were, it would hurt a lot more.” The doctor frowned. Suddenly, Dr. Burke stared directly at Diana. “You’re always stoical,” she announced; “Get to the emergency room now!”


Cody met Diana at NYU’s ER. “It will be okay, Mom,” he said, taking a seat next to her and pushing the hair off his forehead.

She sighed, hoping that Dr. Burke had been wrong.

Cody and Diana both looked at their phones, with her reading the Times and him playing a game. Gently, she took off her red puffer coat, pushing it slowly off the injured arm. After an hour, she was called in for an X-ray.

Her bones were strong, she told herself. She lifted weights at the gym every day. She’d just passed fifty, which wasn’t really old. With her hair dyed back to the original auburn, people said she looked forty, even thirty-five.

The tech guided her to the X-ray machine, which hummed briefly. Stepping out, she promised herself they’d be home soon. They’d make dinner: chicken with dumplings.

The doctor walked in, short and young, with blond hair. “Ms. Hayden,” he said, “It’s a hairline fracture. You’ll need to wear a sling.”

It was made of thick nylon so it could support the part of her skeleton weakened by age. There was nothing she could do. Cody was growing up and she was growing old. Now it was official.

In the cab home she held her arm close to her chest, so motion wouldn’t make it hurt more than it had to. “Don’t worry,” Cody said, gently tapping her hand.

Was she going to turn old and infirm? Would she have to stop skating and running, or even taking long walks? She had to admit that sometimes, her wrists burned with arthritis. Clearly, she would die as damaged as anyone else, as tired and as wounded. Soon enough, it would be her turn.

Diana took out her card to pay the driver. Cody climbed out onto the sidewalk. Once the cab left, Cody asked, “So maybe we can go skating again before Christmas?”

“Of course, we will,” Diana reassured him, even though she knew they never would, at least not together. Before she knew it, he’d be in college.

Standing at the curb, she visualized a gleaming statue of Diana the huntress. She could act as if, even though she knew she was broken. She couldn’t let Cody down now, at least not at this moment.


Elizabeth Morse is a writer who lives in New York’s East Village. Her fiction has been published in literary magazines such as Sensitive Skin, The Raven’s Perch, and Bright Flash Literary Review. Her poetry chapbook “The Color Between the Hours,” has just been published by Finishing Line Press.