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The Zoo

By Kara Kahnke

The keepers come in shifts for his daily feeding, bathing, and changing. I can only nestle close to him during scheduled hours because he can’t move from his wheelchair unassisted.

One of the keepers won’t put us in bed together due to his religious beliefs­­—beliefs we don’t share, but we’re at his mercy. We have to wait for the Saturday night keeper, who winks at me when he helps my boyfriend remove his shirt.

We tolerate things like this because we know wheels and motors shouldn’t lock us away from love. The Saturday night keeper promises to help us at the pool at our gym. Even though we long to be closer, I hate the prep for this. I spend forty-five minutes forcing my one-piece swimsuit over my crooked spine, which my tightened muscles pulled out of straightness long ago. The left strap sags off my shoulder repeatedly before I finally convince it to stay. I’m jealous, then guilty for being jealous, that when we get to the pool the keeper will take a mere two minutes to help Carl slide his trunks on.

 

     

About the Author

Kara Kahnke holds a B.A. in journalism from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Her work has appeared in Creative Nonfiction, The Citron Review, Polychrome Ink Literary Magazine, and Four Chambers Press. She lives in Tempe, Arizona.

 

 

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