On Getting Older by Lola Simon

George had woken up to find that his feet had grown two sizes too big. He supposed they could be swollen but he was sure that this seemed a little more unusual than a simple case of swollen feet. He turned to his wife.

“Do my feet look large to you?”

She was sitting up next to him propped up against a pillow reading a book, her thin wire glasses resting cautiously on the bridge of her nose.

“Honey, I’m reading.”

“I really do think my feet look large though could you please at least look.”

She placed her book down with a sigh.

“You know maybe you’re right they do look a bit large. What shoes were you wearing yesterday? Was it those new brown loafers I bought you for your birthday?”

“No, just my regular shoes.”

“The grey ones?”

“No, the black pair, with the laces. The ones I wear practically everyday.”

“Oh. When are you going to wear the new brown ones?”

“When I have an occasion to wear them.”

“And when will that be?”

“I don’t know, soon.”

“Good.”

“But you do think my feet look large?”

“Oh right. Yes, I think they do. Maybe you should soak them in ice water.”

“But don’t you think they look, I don’t know, unusually large?”

“I don’t know what that means. They look a little swollen, that’s all. Go soak them.”

“Fine.” George swung his feet over the bed onto the carpet and sat there for a few moments staring at the sickening eggshell white of the walls. He wanted more of a cream color but Margie had insisted on this other shade.

“Honey, I think the walls are too bright.”

“Not this again. We agreed on the eggshell. Now go soak your feet.”

“No, you agreed on the eggshell.”

“Well you didn’t exactly object to my opinion.”

“I should’ve.”

“Okay but you didn’t. I don’t know what you want me to tell you. We went with the eggshell white. It would be a pain to have to repaint the whole bedroom, and to be honest I don’t see why the exact shade of white is so significant. Go soak your feet.”

George muttered something under his breath but finally stood up and walked to the bathroom. He leaned over to twist the faucet to turn the bathtub on. At first nothing happened, but gradually water spilled out and the tub began to fill up. The bathtub never worked right. He had been meaning to get that fixed. He waited for a couple minutes until the water had filled up the bottom of the tub. He turned the faucet off. He stared at the still water distorting the white porcelain and forgot what he was doing there in the first place.

“Is that helping?” Margie called out from the bedroom.

“I’m not sure yet,” George yelled back.

He sat on the edge of the bathtub and placed his feet into the water. He hated cold water but this was more lukewarm if anything. He wasn’t sure if lukewarm water would help at all but it was good enough.

“I think it is helping,” he called.

“Oh good I knew it would.”

He stared at his bare feet laying flat under the water. Now that he thought about it they probably were just swollen. More than that, they looked like the feet of an old man. He didn’t recognize them. He looked down at his hands. His hands were not his hands anymore too. They looked the way his father’s hands used to look.

“I’m thinking of making some tea would you like some?” He heard Margie’s voice from the kitchen now.

“Sure.”

He pulled his feet out of the water and got up from the tub.