After Nelly Hagen was slammed in the hip by a small meteorite that threw her to the ground, she pulled herself up to make her way home in the half light of dusk. Despite the fact that she only had four blocks to limp, the trek seemed endless. The streets of Folding, Minnesota weren’t paved, so Nelly had to navigate the narrow dirt roads (and their dangerous crevices) with extreme caution.
It was late autumn. Thick gray clouds were beginning to shroud the sunset’s magical puffs of pink and purple. There was menace in the sky. Was another brutal winter on the way? The previous one, with its ferocious ice storms and gale force winds that downed trees and left people stranded in cars, was the coldest and most deadly on record.
Finally arriving at the cozy little cabin she shared with her mother Cookie, the ponytailed Nelly opened the front door and fell onto the living room rug. The thump was loud, and Cookie came running from the kitchen where she was preparing a casserole. “Nelly!” she shouted in her gravelly voice. “What the blazes happened?”
“I was hit by a meteorite,” the twenty-year-old manicurist explained.
“Don’t be silly,” Cookie chuckled. “It was probably an acorn.”
“Acorns don’t travel at high speeds and knock you to the ground,” Nelly said.
“Maybe that McGraw kid with ADD was throwing rocks again,” Cookie suggested. “Let’s get you up from the floor. I’ll turn off the oven and take you to Dr. Nye right now.”
“I thought you work the graveyard shift.”
“So I’ll be late,” she said, slipping into a pair of gold flats. “I almost called in sick anyway. My gallbladder’s acting up again.” Cookie was the senior fermenting analyst at the Folding Brewery & Grill, the first brewery-restaurant combo in the state.
It turned out the object seriously damaged Nelly’s left hip bone, causing severe pain in the left hip and buttock which radiated down her posterior thigh. After studying an MRI taken at the South Folding Memorial Medical Center, Dr. Nye recommended hip replacement surgery. “Frankly, this kind of operation is common for people over sixty-five,” he said.
“But I’m only twenty,” Nelly replied.
“Yes, but it’s common for people over sixty-five.”
Nelly decided to try a round of physical therapy (and pain medication) before resorting to surgery. Meanwhile, astrologers from Minnesota State University located the jagged, mango-size rock that collided with her and unanimously concluded it was indeed a meteorite from outer space. “I’m terribly excited by this,” renowned scientist Edgar Petrovich stated. “The majority of meteorites vaporize in the atmosphere and never make it to the ground,” he explained to a gaggle of reporters who had gathered for a press conference at Hotel de la Motte Piquet, Folding. “But once in a long while, they reach terra firma and slam through a roof or crash through a windshield or hit a young woman in the hip.”
Skeptics who didn’t know Nelly thought the scenario was bunk, a lame attempt to garner fifteen minutes of local fame. “Nobody gets hit from space rocks around here,” pompous bank manager Ruth Grubber barked.
Those who knew Nelly understood that fame was the last thing on her mind. Unfortunately it came to her in a tsunami-like wave. The headline of the Folding Daily Press read: “Manicurist Nailed By Meteorite.” The story was picked up by publications in neighboring towns including Lone Tree, Pine Hills, Crockett and Tusk. Once the story hit the Twin Cities, the entire state of Minnesota knew the girl’s name, and photographers followed her virtually everywhere.
Exactly ten days after being hit by the meteorite, Nelly and her fellow nail technician Peg Hindle were poking at pasta salads in the small garden behind Beauty Oasis, the salon that employed them. The sky was a cauldron of charcoal gray, cobalt blue and silver, swirling slowly and methodically as if simmering on low heat. A lone bird flapped noisily on the branch of a bare tree as Nelly gazed at a silver cloud, trying to connect with Nicholas, the twin brother she never knew. She imagined him up there with a giant spoon, gently stirring the clouds like a thick, hearty soup. “A Pepsi for your thoughts,” Peg said.
Nelly hesitated. “Well,” she said, “I’m thinking that I’d love to touch those clouds.”