1 comment

Sad Coming of Age Middle School

Standing on the ledge high above the car park he stared ahead unaware of the gathering crowd who were watching him intently. He had been there for the better part of an hour. Images darted around his mind like a broken record on repeat. They always found a way of coming to the fore. Even 40 years passing hadn’t lessened them. They say time is a great healer but not. If anything, it was worse. The pain seemed to live and breathe in every part of his body.

He could still remember that day. Everyone had told him not to do it but being 17 he ignored them all. Young and full of bravado he wouldn’t listen to a word. Being the youngest of ten he knew better than anyone. He lived in a small safety bubble reserved for folks living in a small village where everyone knew what you had for breakfast. If they didn’t, they would make it up anyway.

Breathing in the icy cold air he wrapped himself up in a woollen overcoat and pulled a beanie over long dark curls. Red gloves newly bought for Christmas dressed his frozen hands. He thought he was something else. The confidence of a young buck. Ready to rule the world.

You would think that the day before would have put him off. Not at all. It just made him more determined.

He was only three miles from home up in the hills swerving here and there getting a feel for it. He hadn’t ridden much before but that didn’t slow him down. Narrow roads with low visibility punctuated with the odd tractor and horse rider. People liked to go up there as there wasn’t a lot of traffic. Not to mention the glens were remarkable on those overcast days especially with the low light casting its spell over hill and dale. Breathtaking.

He ducked and dived becoming more confident with every turn. His left arm slowed him down a bit but not too much. Yesterday’s injury he thought. The bridge over Lockleigh river in the distance was where he usually stopped. Only one car or bike could ride over at a time. He had been over that bridge a hundred times mostly in the car or tractor with his Dad.

He was already doing about 60 miles per hour by the time he made it to the bridge. He grabbed the handlebars of the bike and tried to manoeuvre his way across the bridge but his left arm wasn’t working. Losing his balance, he struggled to stay on the road and the tractor coming towards him had nowhere to go but straight into him.

Waking up in a cold sweat at Ardlee hospital he looked around and immediately saw his father. “What happened Dad? “he asked in a blurry trail of thoughts. Sinking back into the hard sheets he fell into a deep unconscious state before his Dad could answer. Three months passed. The ward nurse woke him up to take his blood pressure. Squeezing his right arm with the skill of an experienced matron he looked up and asked her “What happened?.” She gulped the air around her and paused. “You have been in a coma for three months.” This is the first time we have seen you open your eyes or move at all since you sunk into that state. Your father hasn’t left your side other than to go to the toilet. He has been praying for your return. We even had Father John come in and bless you halfway through. It’s been a revolving door in here with your mates and family coming in to see you trying to rise you from the dead.

He tried to process what she was saying but the words were jumbled as if they were not in the right order. He saw his father’s shadow standing outside the half glass door. It looked like he was talking to someone. His father ran into the room and seeing his son awake grabbed him so hard in a bear hug unaware of the pain his son was in. “Dad,” he murmured. “What happened Dad?”

His Dad swallowed his words gently before he responded. “Well son, you rode your motorbike across Lockleigh River and you met a tractor head on.” They found you in a wee bit of a mess. You were flown to the hospital here where you woke up briefly once but then you slipped into a coma where you have stayed for three months.” “You haven’t stirred not a movement.” Sinking down into the bed I pulled the sheets woefully over my head. “The doctor will be around soon son” “He will be able to explain it all to you.” Time to rest your head.

Comas were not good I knew that. I didn’t know much but I had seen it on the tv. All I knew was that I didn’t feel right so to speak. I had a pain in my head that was unbearable. It throbbed as if someone had whacked me over the frontal lobe.

Sure enough, Doctor McKinlay and his troops marched in the following morning. Three or four of them wearing white overcoats. One of them peering over bottle top glasses. All of them staring at Doctor McKinlay as if he were a god. Doctor McKinlay cleared his throat before he spoke and adjusted his haphazard tie. Well dear boy, you have had a terrible accident as you know. Holding up scans of some description he went on. The scans show that there has been some irreversible damage to the brain. I could hear my father coughing as he stood by the window not looking in my direction. There are three dark spots on your brain which means that you will be impacted for the rest of your life. The student doctors all instantly looked at their feet clearly not comfortable giving bad news, but Doctor McKinlay was a pro at this. He continued “I am sorry to tell you, but your life will be very different from here on in. Most patients with brain injuries suffer from depression and mood swings for the entirety of their lives.” Trying to soften the blow he said, “the good thing is all your limbs are intact.” I could hear my father weeping in the corner. Something I had never seen him do.

Doctor McKinlay and his minions tiptoed out of the room as if that would somehow ease the news that they had just given me. My father sat down at my feet and tucked them up into the blanket carefully as if he was wrapping something precious. My thoughts were jumbled and the doctor had just confirmed why.

The following months after I left the hospital were up and down. Recovery was a slow process. People couldn’t understand the severity of my injuries given that they were invisible.

I was up and down like a yo-yo. Dad and I tried to understand these mood swings that I had when I left the hospital but it was impossible. Rages came from nowhere. I was told I was like Jekyll and Hyde by one of my older brothers. I wasn’t sure to be fair but going by what he said it was likely true. The doctor was right. Life had changed no end. I found myself heading up to the top storey of the car park when those black thoughts filled my mind. The long drop to the concrete below looked strangely comforting. In those moments I wished that time could have been reversed and I had the good sense to say no to riding the motorbike.

November 18, 2022 05:40

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

1 comment

Thom With An H
19:17 Nov 21, 2022

Lynsey, I enjoyed your story a lot. I thought you tackled a very tough subject with grace. I think there is more flesh to be put into it though. Maybe more about how life was after he left the hospital. That seemed to be a bit rushed. Overall though you did a great job. Keep writing.


Show 0 replies
RBE | We made a writing app for you (photo) | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.