Writing 101 Assignment #14: Recreate a Single Day

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Age: 10

I lay on the concrete and it felt like nothing underneath my skin. Not like a bed of rocks or warm gravel. It just felt like nothing and I didn’t want anyone to touch me. Now, if only I could get the message across to someone. Anyone. Guess I should go ahead and harness those telepathic powers. “Please don’t move me, please don’t move me, please don’t move me.” Now, I’ll just lie here and keep repeating myself. That’s it everyone, walk around. Nothing to see here. I was caught in conversation with my own thoughts that summer afternoon when someone scooped me into their arms and then suddenly I couldn’t breathe.

Hours Earlier
June, 1997 – Afternoon

The bell roared its final lyric from  the interior of Scott Joplin Elementary School and finally released us. “Thanks Auntie Roslyn!”

A whole dollar. It’s official; I am on to bigger and better things now. Turns out it really does pay to get good grades. Moving on up out the fourth grade. Time to bring all the toys outside to celebrate.

As night dawned and the street lights came on, Mama yelled that it was time for my sister and I to come home.  It was a beautiful day out and the ice cream truck took advantage as it sung down the street. I decided it was time to spend.

“But mama said to come in the house,” whined my twin sister.

“Just hold my toys till I come back”, I said annoyed. Why she can’t just go with the flow?

I wasn’t interested in Twin’s backtalk, just ice cream. Did she not see that I had just been a devil for Halloween? She better get it together. I mean sure, the pitchfork is made of plastic with a cute light bulb, but I know how to use it.

The ice cream truck sang its way down the street with its “Pop goes the weasel hymn”. And being as careful as I could with anxious feet I embarked on my journey. “Yea, this will only take a minute. Life is about taking risks little sister. I’ll be back before you know it.”

***********

So here I am, floating in the air and unable to breathe.

“Told yall not to move me. Grown-ups. They never listen.” I didn’t hear screams. I didn’t feel the impact. I don’t remember anything outside of rolling from the hood of the car and being picked up from the ground and put in the grass again. “There, that’s better. I can breathe now.”

There is no pain as I lay here surrounded by the neighborhood. I don’t know what everyone’s looking at. I scanned my surroundings in awe of the large crowd and realized my left hand was being squeezed by some woman. Her tears soaked her face and she pleaded her apologies over and over again. “Oh, so your the one who hit me. No worries, I forgive you. It’s really not all that bad. Not like I feel anything. Plus, you do know it’s really not your fault right? Yup, its mine. Just don’t tell Twin. You keep secrets right? You keep mine and I’ll keep yours. Oh come on, will you stop the crying already? It’s really not that bad. I don’t feel anything. Oh that’s right, you can’t hear me. No one can. I’m liking these powers. Nice. Next time mom says—

“She shouldn’t have been running across the street,” said a familiar voice in the crowd.

It was cousin Rachel. There, take a scowl. You better be careful lady. Who knows what I can do with my new super powers.

An Hour Later – The Hospital

So I’m sad to tell you that my super powers wore off. I still can’t speak but I’m starting to feel pain. According to the voices around me I’d broken my leg, or more precisely, my femur bone, the longest bone in your body, located in the thigh area. So now I’m staring at the ceiling waiting for the doctors to come back. Mom is on the other side of me and my entire right leg is wrapped in some kind of casing that feels like its getting heavier and heavier. “Oh boy, this is it. I’m dying. I’m officially dying.” My voice opened up and I started to cry. “What’s taking them so long? This is unbearable! What is this thing on my leg?! It’s so heavy. It has to be a cast. They must know my super powers are gone. Who would be so cruel as to wrap my broken leg in a cast! It feels like a big fat man was sitting on my leg. I know he’s around here somewhere, I just can’t see him. I don’t think I’ll have a leg left. It’s sinking deeper and deeper into the bed and the mattress is starting to fold over.

So the “doctors” finally came back and wheeled me into surgery. I wonder about the evil doctor who commanded his men to try and make my leg disappear. I’m sure he wanted to do away with me and I was being taken to a secret laboratory in which this would happen. Wait, he’s trying to give me something. It’s poison. I knew it! Wait, what’s happening? No, don’t put that in my ….”

Recovery

What a day. First I get attacked by the white car. Then I get kidnapped and drugged by men pretending to be doctors and now I’m sitting up in a hospital bed. Let me check to see if all of my body parts are here. Head. Check. Arms. Check. Face in tack. Check. Good, I can wiggle my toes. Check. Left leg is fine. Right—

“Ahhh!”

I started to cry again. Someone had stapled me back together. I instantly thought of my fourth grade teacher who stapled his thumb on occasion to let us know he was crazy enough not to mess with. “Was he in on this? I wouldn’t doubt it.” I wondered what kind of technology they were using. I’d better be careful not to touch the staples. It may activate some special gadget and suck me deep into the floor. Maybe I’ll just count them. One….two…three…ten…eighteen…twenty-four! Oh my, this must really be serious. I’m sure there’s a tracking device in there somewhere. And what did they do with my real leg?

I thought about telling mama about these evil men but I didn’t want to blow my cover. If she was protecting me they couldn’t know about it. I’m kind of tired now so we’ll have to talk about escape routes in the morning. Guess I’ll get some sleep since mom’s up. She can watch the door.

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The Accident

“She shouldn’t have been running across the street!” said a familiar voice in the crowd.

It was Cousin Rachel and if I had the energy to throw a scowl her way I would have. I still had not felt any pain and only prayed now that I would live. I scanned the crowd, it appeared the entire neighborhood had come to see the event. Heads popped outside of windows, neighbors stopped in their places and strangers huddled together alongside family, shoulder to shoulder, as if shielding me from the outside and encasing me inside the core of the sidewalk.

Meanwhile, my fingers tingled with blood that raced toward the tips because someone was squeezing the life out of my left hand, and their tears kissed their apologies on top my skin. She was the woman who hit me and was knee deep in apologies and instant compassion consumed me. I forgave the woman over and over again while simultaneously praying I wasn’t going to die. But I was talking in my head again. The lady had not heard me, my mouth still had not moved, and my memory only went as far back as rolling off the hood of someone’s car, down the window and onto the ground. (For some reason I remember sliding down the window). Prior to this I was on a quest for ice cream and decided a quick dash across the street would grant me this prized possession. Needless to say I was wrong.

It wasn’t until I looked down at my right thigh that the full realization of what happened came to me: my right thigh was twice the size of my left one. Still, I felt no pain. I felt nothing in fact. I just lay there consumed by thought and words that had no sound. It wasn’t until the Ambulance arrived and I made the transition from the ground to the vehicle that the shock wore off and the excruciating discomfort started.

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The arrival to the hospital itself is a blur. I was in so much pain that everything seemed surreal. It turns out that I’d broken my leg, or more precisely, my femur bone (the longest bone in your body, located near the thigh). I remember staring into the ceiling, my little brown body highlighted against the white sheets. My mom was to my left as we waited for the doctors to return. My whole right leg had been wrapped in some kind of casing and the feel of it was that it was getting heavier and heavier as time passed. As I cried out in agony, I could not understand what was taking them so long to come back. I also wondered who had done this cruel thing as to wrap my broken leg in a cast, which made my leg so unbelievably heavy that I could not lift it and supposed then that it was not only paralyzed, but by the time the doctors felt like getting started I would have no leg left, for it was diving deeper into the bed and the mattress began to fold over.

Of course, none of this really happened. My leg was not wrapped in a cast and was not sinking into the bed.

When the doctors and nurses finally did return, in what seemed hours later, they started to cut my clothes off which added to my rising dislike of these people. I was wearing something really cute that now sat in shredded pieces of nothing. Meanwhile, in my head, I was explaining to no one in particular about the evil doctor who commanded his men to try and make my leg disappear and cut up my nice clothes. I’m sure he wanted to do away with me and I was being taken to a secret laboratory in which this would happen. I was just about to imagine what he was going to do when someone put a pill in my mouth. When I woke up I was laying in recovery with a steel plate replacing my leg, twenty-four surgical staples piecing me back together and surrounded by family.

check-up

I still remember when mama took me to my first check-up. I assumed the clever doctors had found me and sought to continue their plan. In my head, I’d been rescued by family who found a way to piece me back together and store me away in recovery. Now however, we were on our way to the doctor’s office and had to cross a big street that I’m sure came out of nowhere. On my journey to get across, I wondered what kind of technology they were using. I’d better be careful not to step on the yellow lines; it may activate some special gadget and suck me deep into the ground. Because my enemies had decided it was better that I use a walker instead of crutches, which I’d hoped to experience, it took me what seemed forever to get across the street. The evil doctors had done it this time, they were back and I was sure that they had somehow stretched the already wide road so that with each step I was not getting closer, I was only getting further and further away. I thought about telling mama about these corrupt men but I didn’t want to blow my cover. If she was protecting me they couldn’t know about it.

When we got to the office and they removed the staples, I was instructed by the doctor to move my leg back and forth but I couldn’t do it. My body had not all the way adjusted to the steel plate and told me this wasn’t a very good idea. Instantly, I stopped and threw a scowl the doctor’s way, “Way to go genius that hurts.” But I knew what he was trying to do. He was trying to kill me. I better not say anything, they may try to kidnap mom and throw me in that laboratory again.

*****

I would like to publish a memoir one day. While I am still undecided as to publish an entire manuscript, I have taken to writing down bits and pieces of my life story and publishing excerpts to this blog for practice. What you have read is the true story of when I was hit by a car at ten years old. Names of real persons have been changed to protect their identities.

Appreciating Body Parts

150510_0001I’m typing with nine fingers today. I do have ten fingers, but one of them happens to be out of commission today. Brilliant me slammed it in the car door last night. Now my wonderful husband can take care of his disabled wife. OK well, it’s really not that bad. It is in a bandage though so I really am typing with nine fingers. But this got me thinking: How often do we appreciate the value of the little things, such as a finger? Do you appreciate your body parts? You’d be surprised how important this small part is to the body. It’s a challenge not using this finger, but I know of a beautiful young woman who was not born with fingers. She has a rare disease that caused her to have webbed feet and no hands. This started me reminiscing on bits of my own history. What if I told you I don’t have a right leg? Well, technically it’s more like no femur bone. Your femur bone is the long bone in your thigh. It’s the only bone in the thigh in fact. It is both the longest and the strongest bone in the human body, extending from the hip to the knee. But I don’t have one. Instead, I have a steel plate. You see, it all started about eighteen years ago:

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The day was beautiful. The sun danced in the streets and illuminated the green grass. There was an abundance of little ones running around, riding bikes, roller blading, and playing tag. One of the many things I always loved about the neighborhood was the pouring of children who came out to play in the summer time. (I don’t know what’s up with this new generation where everybody stay in the house and play video games. Staying in the house was punishment for us. We loved to play outside).  It was 1997, and school was just letting out. 8023 South Paulina is an address I would never forget. It’s the first apartment complex we lived in after moving out of the projects and today, Auntie Roslyn had rewarded us for passing on to the 5th grade. That’s back when a $1 was golden. We spent most of the time hustling for quarters to buy candy, but dollars? We were rich now.

My twin sister and I decided this was the perfect day to visit a friend. And this meant bringing every toy in the house with us. We were excited and that meant that we would invite everyone to the festivities: Barbie, Ken, their car and the whole gang. This wasn’t unusual for the twins; these are the same little people who baked cakes in their easy bake oven and sold them to the kids in the neighborhood at a quarter each.

“Time to come in the house!” Boomed my mother’s voice. She actually called our names though. This was when parents still stood in the middle of the street and called your whole government to attention because the street lights were on and you were not at home. The day had gone smoothly. Our friend didn’t give us a reason to argue our ten year old genius about why she shouldn’t do this and that and for the most part we all played nicely. But as the sun began to set and the street lights crawled to attention, it was time for us to leave our dear friend down the street to come on back in the house.

This is when the story gets interesting. Cradling toys in our arms, my ears caught wind of the music before the ice cream truck floated down the street and a smile crept on my face. You see, I’d been scheming on how to spend this dollar since earlier that day. It was a precious gift and I wanted to make sure that I used it on something really good. I suppose now is the best time to remind you that my most favorite desert is ice cream. So, when the jolly jingle of something that sounded like, “pop goes the weasel”, sang down the street with its bright lights and large display of choices, I knew then and there what I wanted.

“Hold my stuff,” I instructed my twin sister. I was after all the oldest and back then five minutes was like five years, and let’s just say I wielded my authority proudly.

“But mama said to come in the house,” she whined.

Why must she do this now? I hated when twin started whining and complaining. It always brought attention to the seriousness of the situation. Why can’t she just get with the flow? The annoyance of her pleas etched into my face. I smacked my lips as I ignored her common sense.

“Just hold my stuff,” I said.

Before she could protest any more I decided to take a quick dash across the street. The ice cream truck was on the other side serving the people on the other side of the street. This should have been my warning that tonight was not the night for ice cream. However, I was stubborn so this logic didn’t occur to me. I wanted ice cream and I wanted it now.

I looked both ways before speeding across the street. I saw a white car and it all went black.

When I came to, I was rolling off the hood of this stranger’s car and onto the concrete. Twin and I were premature babies, only 3 and 4 lbs. each. And so we had always been small coming up. We were ten but we looked more like we were five. It is only now that I understand weight gain, but all throughout elementary and High School I never had to be concerned about my weight. When I graduated from High School I was 100 lbs. and could fit into size 1-2 jeans.

Needless to say that car tossed my small body around like a rag doll. When it was finished I lay on the cold concrete praying no one moved me. I had no knowledge of the medical field or any of that stuff at ten, and yet I knew enough to know I didn’t want anyone to touch me. Somehow, I knew that if I was touched it would not be good. But despite my pleas to be left alone, my mouth didn’t move and my voice shut down. No one heard my cries because it was all in my head. I was in shock and though I wanted to scream my mouth didn’t move. As a result, someone scooped me into their arms and not only could I not speak; now I could not breathe.

The person laid me in the grass and my breath returned to me. There was no pain as I lay there surrounded by the neighborhood. Everyone had come out to see the kid who got hit by a car. Either by walking by or peeking heads out of windows. I scanned the crowd until I realized my hand was being squeezed. To my left was the woman who hit me and her tears soaked her face. She pleaded and pleaded her apologies over and over again.

“Get over yourself,” I thought.

I wasn’t being mean; it’s just that I forgave her already. I still had not felt any pain and only prayed now that I would live. I forgave her over and over again while simultaneously praying I wasn’t going to die. But I was talking in my head again. The lady had not heard me and my mouth still had not moved. It wasn’t until I looked down at my right thigh that the pain came and my mouth opened. The thigh (it couldn’t have been mine) was twice the size of my real one and the pain was excruciating. To make a long story short my leg (or more precisely my femur bone) was broken. I had to get a steel plate put in and twenty-four surgical staples. I came home from the hospital with a walker which I thought really sucked. Here I am with a broken leg and all I was concerned with was why they couldn’t have given me crutches. Truth is I was fitted for them, but they couldn’t find two of the same height for tiny ole me.

“Aww man”, I thought, “I love those.” Yea, I was the kid who played on other people’s crutches. But the one time I needed them I was given an ugly brown walker instead. It didn’t help that they tied balloons around the thing. Yea, it really looks good now.

I was spoiled rotten of course when I came home, though the wrapping and unwrapping of my bandage and going back and forth to the hospital was no fun. Today you would never know the difference, though I still do have the scar which starts a little above my knee and stretches to right below my hip. It’s basically the whole thigh. Trace your finger from above your knee till it stops at the end of the thigh, that’s the length of my scar. The only side effects are the weather. When the weather changes dramatically, like from warm to cold, I get aches similar to that of arthritis. And sometimes I know when it’s about to rain (my leg tells me).But other than that I’m fine. I learned a valuable lesson though:

Obey your mother and father AND appreciate your body parts! Someone somewhere does not have what you have. And just think, I broke my femur, the strongest bone in the body, how ironic.