Tuesday, October 26, 2010

When I was eight I broke my arm. (Random? Probably.) What a shitty way to start a story! Let's do this properly.

I was eight years old, just a small stitch of a thing, really. Underweight, short, pretty much all knees and elbows. I was headstrong, and wanted everything my way. In fact, I would see to it that things were my way, regardless of the consequences.

Mother and I were at a picnic for this group that we were involved in that bridged the gap between teachers and families called, F.A.S.T. (Families and Schools Together) F.A.S.T. was a program that tried to reach out to those kids (these days described as "Emotionally Disturbed") that just didn't seem to care about school. Whether that meant that they just missed a lot, or they were bored out of their skulls with the curriculum didn't matter. It taught the teachers to be better teachers, and the parents to be better parents. I digress.

Mother and I had fought that morning. She laid out a flowery dress for me and told me that this was what I was to wear to the picnic that day. I grimaced. I groaned. I threw myself on the bed, crumpling the dress in my hands and throwing a pretty good tantrum. I hated dresses. With a fiery passion. I insisted that there would be a separate outfit set aside in the car for me to change into after we reached the party and she showed me off to the few people she felt needed impressing. No mother, there would not be photographic evidence that this took place.

After we reached the party and mother showed me off like some show animal, I started to itch. Tights. Why would someone invent something as terrible as tights? Don't they know that summers are meant for scraping knees, and getting muddy? The bow in my hair was already crooked, and the curls she had painstakingly put into my hair were coming loose in the humidity. I fidgeted, waiting for mother to finish her conversation so that I could remove the hated outfit immediately. There were children playing in the water, and they were not wearing tights. I looked at my shoes and imagined them fat, shiny beetles on my feet. The beetles made their way away from mother and the tall people she stood with to our tan Chevelle. Mother never locked the doors.

Finally free of the tights, the hairs on my legs stood on end. I quickly dressed myself in the clothes I brought when the car door opened. It was my stepfather. He was little more than a boy, when I think about it now. Twenty three, he was. Just a boy. He asked what I was doing and I explained to him that the beetles needed to come off my feet. I think he understood because he just laughed and followed me back to the picnic. Back to the smell of the lake and the sand and the grass.

There was a woman there with our group that had a Mo-ped. It was like a bike with a motor on it, and a seat that was meant for one person. This woman took the kids one at a time on it like a carnival ride. I had never ridden one myself, and was more than curious about it. There was a line.

Mother was with her friends and the coordinators, talking. Mother was always talking to someone. It was a trait I later inherited from her, but at the time it served the purpose it need to; a distraction. All the other children asked their parents before they took a ride on the Mo-ped with the woman. Not one child's parent had said "no", and I just assumed my mother would share their consent. I waited in line for my ride.

When it was finally my turn, the woman lifted me onto her lap. She showed me where the gas was, and how to twist it forward to make the vehicle go. I twisted lightly and the Mo-ped lurched forward and went at close to a walking pace in the grass. The woman, with her hand over mine, twisted the gas throttle all the way so that we would gain speed. It stuck. She panicked.

I can remember the feel of her hand over mine. The feel of the wind through my hair, the curls now gone for good. I remember the lake on the right side of us as we headed straight from the parking lot. I remember the tensing in her hand as she squeezed the brake. The brake was to the front tire.

I remember feeling like the world tilted and threw me into the air like the paddle on a pinball machine. The landing hurt, as I recall. I was awake for that portion, feeling like I may never be able to draw air into my lungs again. It wasn't but a second later that her body landed on top of mine, stealing the consciousness from me.

Mother looked up at the sound of the crash, thinking how unfortunate it was for the people involved. She ran to a pay phone to help the unfortunates out.

I woke to blinding pain. There was a man there with sandals in his hands, trying to lash them to my arm. They were sandy. The pain exploded and shut my brain down once more.

When mother arrived at the scene, my stepfather was already there, pushing the man with the sandals away from my limp body. The woman had been dragged from on top of me and was sitting and crying, sure she had killed me when she landed on me. Mother was beside herself and could barely maintain composure when the ambulance arrived to take me to the hospital.


To this day I have a fear of two-wheeled vehicles, which is unfortunate for me, from what I have been told. I have this friend who tonight told me a story about his adventures on motorcycles and it brought this story to mind, so I thought I would share it with you. I will try not to ignore this place for so long next time. My love to you all.

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