The Accident (short story written age 12)

The Accident

It was a hot, heavy, humid summer evening. I was standing behind a dull red ranch style home. Surrounding me were tall birch trees, three times as wide as my arms could span, and very old – having rough, worm-eaten carvings that dated as far back as 1862. The ground that I stood on was a checkered maze of lush green grass, intertwined with dry, brown hay that crunched a dry crackle with each step of my foot. There was no sun visible, just the lonely, mysterious light of dusk.

The house was the home of my best friend, Glen. He was a slim, lanky boy with brown eyes; dark, uncombed hair, that hung in a tangle over his forehead; and a firm, solid chin. A stream of sweat trickled down his sun-tanned face and soaked the frayed collar of an old, second hand flannel shirt that was used for play clothing.

The reason for this torrent of perspiration was that we, like most boys our age, were chasing each other in a nonsensical game of tag. As we ran, high pitched laughs and shrieks of delight poured freely between the gasps for air. Up the stone studded steps we stumbled and through the tangle of trellises we tramples; our heavy feet trailed their path of destruction in the moist humus of the garden. My friend headed toward the gray door that led to his cellar with its conglomeration of glass panes and wooden panels. I, close at his heels, like a hound after a fox, could not be dissuaded from my pursuit by any intricate maneuvers.

Aware of my persistence, my quarry had no alternative but to retreat to the safety that the cellar afforded. I had sensed his intentions, an my easy going sprint turned into anxious bounds. He entered the door with my being still close behind and coming fast. I drew close to the threshold and, to my horror, saw that he was slamming the door in my face. I saw the ominous structure of glass and wood looming before me and I was in a panic. I tried to find some footholds with which to slow myself down, but the smooth, damp surface of the slate sidewalk offered no resistance whatsoever. In a last moment of sheer desperation, I thrust forth my hand, with the hope of shielding my face from the shower of splinters and shattered glass that I knew was to follow.

There was a loud crash as the door clicked and locked into position, my hand making impact simultaneously. It seemed as if by instinct that I let forth an uncontrollable yell. Rapidly I pulled my hand back. As I gazed at my arm with a dazed look, it slowly seeped into my realization the disastrous consequences of the collision. I saw that my forearm was a mass of ridges, looking as a nylon stocking looks with several runs in the same place. – the result of the severing and recoiling of the white cords called tendons. A geyser of red shot forth from the hideous, jagged gash, and a mixture of old and fresh blood pooled at my feet and trickled off in a slow red river through the roses a yard or so away. A tingling shock rose through my jangled nerves and a slow dull pain became perceptible. I staggered toward the kitchen, my mouth half filled with moans of pain and half filled with dark oaths for the bungling fool whom I believed to be the instigator of my distress.

Upon entering the kitchen, I saw Glen’s mother. Her hand, holding a damp dish towel, quivered at the sight of my arm – now drenched with blood – and my white face twisted with pain. She placed the injured arm under the faucet and, with a turn of the chrome handle, sent a stream of cold, effervescent water gushing from the nozzle. As the surging spray soaked into the severed skin, the shooting pain of several minutes ago turned into an unbearable, agonizing torture. The wound was bound in a dish towel as it was the nearest bandage of any usable size. I remember Glen’s five year-old sister looking up at me with sorrowful eyes and saying, “Don’t worry we’ll put some mercurochrome and a band-aid on, and you’ll be all better.”

We left the kitchen and headed for the car and the hospital. We worked our way through the dark side roads and entered the endless stream of traffic on the highway. I sat in the car and cracked jokes as though this was just another ordinary pleasure excursion, taken to while away the time on a hot summer evening. Soon, through the slits of my half-closed eyes, I could dimly see the hospital in the distance. We drew nearer; and, finally, we pulled into the crowded emergency entrance.

Upon entering the hospital, we were ushered into a small confined waiting room. I began to feel worse as the antiseptic smell entered my nostrils and the white, sadistic drabness of the walls and uniforms closed in around me. A horde of indifferent interns, one after another, stuck pins in my nerve centers and picked at the wound with their little scissors until the whole affair got to be obnoxiously redundant. With some form of sedative injected into my veins, I quickly lost control of my limbs and my speech, though I still retained my senses of sight and hearing. I was lifted onto a mobile cart and was wheeled into a service elevator. We ascended approximately three floors to reach our destination.

Presently I was surrounded by a myriad of doctors, nurses, and innumerable equipment consisting of dials, tanks, and other complicated machinery that I could hardly distinguish – much less identify. Then I saw the anesthesiologist towering over me, slowly lowering a mask over my face. He started to count slowly as he turned on the ether. “One, Twh-o, thre-ye-ye, four-wr-wr-wr-, fi-yi-yi-yive… “ as the ether started to take effect, every sound became echoed and intensified a thousand times beyond its normal state. My ears thumped inside, and I soon slumped deep into the synthetic sleep.

What seemed to me but a few moments was in reality a tedious four hour operation. A skilled surgeon performed the delicate tasks of tying together the severed tendons and reconnecting blood vessels and nerves.

I awakened suddenly with my head throbbing. I was not in what was called the recovery room. The walls were the same drab white as I had noticed upon entering the hospital, and there was the same antiseptic smell, only now more intensified and mixed with the smell of ether. Up to now I had been feeling pretty sorry for myself. Why had this misery been heaped upon ME? Why had fate been so abusive to ME? What had I done to deserve THIS?

On one side of me was an old man with nothing but his memories. He desperately clung to the little life that was left to him. On the other side of me was a wasted child – a girl with nothing to look forward to in life but the existence of a vegetable. And here I was, in the middle, feeling sorry for myself over a trivial thing like a cut in the arm. Why, I had my whole life before me, and what is more, I was capable of making something out of it. Oh! What a fool I had been. I had health and youth, the greatest fortunes in the world, and I didn’t even realize it. What strange ways fate has to teach one the true values of life. We never really realize what we have until we see what others have lost. I looked down at the bulk of bandage that was my arm. I tensed my muscles. A sharp tingling feeling swept through my nerves, and I felt a scratchy feeling in my fingers. I could move them.

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