I'm taking a creative non fiction class this term so I'm going to positing a lot of essays and non fiction stories for the next few months. Here's a draft of one I'm turning in. I hope you enjoy it!
What follows is a story about a five year old me who broke his femur while skiing. Don't worry. It's somewhat humerus.... hard di har har...
I've posted a revision of this essay here.
In hindsight, taking a five year old skiing doesn’t seem like a great idea. As an adult, I don’t like being cold or wet nor do I like having to gasp for breath in the thin mountain air. I’m an undiagnosed asthmatic with an aversion to physical exertion and an even greater aversion to physical exertion when I’m wet and cold.
Not much has changed since I was five.
When I was growing up, my dad was a professional speaker and musician and was often asked to speak at church high school retreats. This particular weekend on Mt. Baker in North Western Washington, my parents decided it was time I try skiing. My three year old brother stayed behind in the nursery.
Most of it, of course, is a blur. I remember eating snow on my way to the rental kiosk, I remember, with the aid of the ski rental agents, trying on different boots and different skis and not knowing if they fit of not, but feeling like I had giant weights hanging off my body.
It was hard to walk.
Apparently I was a pretty quick study in the skiing department and, despite my cold and slight breathing troubles, I had fun soaring pole less down the mountain dressed for a blizzard. Before long I even learned that if I tilted my skis up slightly, I could stop and/or slow down. This was more effective if I maneuvered the skis into an inverted V shape. If I moved my hips right or left, I could maneuver and thus avoid trees.
I also discovered that after stopping, if you fell awkwardly and had faulty ski bindings, you could break your leg.
I had just mastered a bunny slope and was standing near the bottom and I looked back and saw my mom lift the yellow goggles off her face. She couldn’t see me, apparently lost in the snow and the trees. And then I fell. I don’t know why or hell, I just fell. I saw my ski boot above my head, attached to my ski, whose tip had gotten wedged in the snow. The bindings didn’t work and the torque of the ski combined with the angle of my fall caused my left femur to break.
Naturally, I cried and my mom rushed over to me as quickly as she could, which took quite a while in ski boots. My father also heard my cries and rushed. He thought I had just fallen and suffered a bruise or something. The severity of my injury would not be known ‘til later.
It’s a funny thing how as I write this, my left leg (which does get painful on occasion when the weather gets cold) is hurting a little. I’m wincing. But, I don’t remember it hurting when this happened. I’m sure it did, I just don’t remember it. I do remember being dragged/carried through the snow by my dad who, again, didn’t think I was that hurt, and up a snow bank to the lodge. I could see the mild concern in his young face silhouetted against a blue sky as he carried me to our room in the lodge.
Hours later I still didn’t know my leg was broken but I had already learned that high school girls were suckers for a child in distress. Outside our room, was the main hall in the lodge which served as a dining hall and meeting area. My dad had took a mattress from our room, laid it on one of the tables and then laid me on it. Before long, I was showered with more candy, hugs and kisses then my five year old mind could fathom. I knew my leg hurt and that something was wrong, but I also knew that I needed to milk this situation for all I could.
When a girl would walk by and see me wrapped in a blanket with tears in my eyes, she would come over and offer me a hug and then come back minutes later with an Almond Joy, M & M’s, Snickers, Skittles, or whatever else she thought a five year old boy would like. I’ve never viewed women as being cootie filled so I also enjoyed the hugs nearly as much as the candy. Before long, my little brother discovered my candy stash, but he was forbidden from partaking. He hadn’t sustained an injury on the ski slope.
It became obvious that my leg was seriously injured when it began to swell and turn blue. My dad was torn between his obligation to speak and perform at the camp or partake in a potentially treacherous drive into Bellingham (interestingly enough, the same town my wife grew up in, though we were not acquainted with each other at this time) to find a hospital and have my leg looked at. Eventually his fatherly concern won out over his business obligations, no doubt aided in part with gentle prodding from my mother, and we made the short but arduous journey into the city. When we arrived, dad ran inside and, moments later, I started screaming. I saw two men in blue scrubs come out to the car with a wheel chair.
“Mom! I don’t wanna be in a wheel chair. Please don’t put me in a wheel chair!” My five year old brain assumed that I was going to be wheel chair bound for the rest of my life. Mom soothed me by running her gentle fingers through my hair and telling me the chair was only to help me get into the hospital. She promised I wouldn’t have to stay in it forever. I was skeptical, of course, but, in the end, mom won out and I allowed myself to be escorted in the wheel chair.
From there, it’s just blurry snapshots of memory: the X-ray machine and being intrigued that they could look under my skin; the doctor carrying me from the gurney to a wall with white lights and a picture of a bone on it showing me, and presumably my parents,that my femur was broken in half. Later, I remember the masked nursery and covering me my leg with cold wet plaster-of-Paris, I remember my mom giving me sponge baths, my kindergarten classmates writing their names on my cast, my cousin also acquiring a broken femur in the same manner I did at the same (and further cursing that blasted sport), the crutches I often used in combat against my little brother, the sympathy.
To this day, I don’t like skiing, the excessive cold (though I do love snow) or the outdoors very much. I can’t help but think this rather traumatic incident from early life is a contributing factor.
all rights reserved. Copyright Justin W. Price Jan 19, 2012
Thanks for Reading.
A FREELANCE WRITER, HONORS STUDENT AND GOVER PRIZE FINALIST, JUSTIN W. PRICE (AKA, PDXKARAOKEGUY)IS A POET, SHORT STORY, BIOGRAPHY AND HUMOR WRITER. HIS POETRY COLLECTION,DIGGING TO CHINA, WAS RELEASED FEBRUARY 2ND, 2013 BY SWEATSHOPPE PUBLICATIONS AND IS AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.COM, BARNES AND NOBLE AND THROUGH YOUR LOCAL BOOKSELLER.
HIS WORK WILL ALSO BE FEATURED IN BEST NEW FICTION (2014 EDITION), AND HAS APPEARED PREVIOUSLY IN THE RUSTY NAIL, EFICTION, THE CRISIS CHRONICLES, THE HELLROARING REVIEW, BURNINGWORD, THE WHISTLING FIRE, SEE SPOT RUN ANDTHE BELLWETHER REVIEW.
HE WORKS AS A FREELANCE WRITER, EDITOR, AND GHOST WRITER, AND IS WORKING TOWARDS HIS PH.D. HE LIVES IN A SUBURB OF PORTLAND, OREGON WITH HIS WIFE, ANDREA, THEIR LABRADOODLE, BELLA, SCHNOODLE, SAUVEE AND BLACK MOOR GOLDFISH, HOWARD WOLOWITZ.
PLEASE VISIT HIS PROFILE PAGE FOR MORE INFORMATION. THANKS!
the HUb you've just read, inspired this hub:
read a revised version, along with an explanation of my revision process, here