I Need Some Space

“I need some space.”

Hurt and broken, I gave it. Released for Christmas break, our intertwined lives continued to cross.

It wasn’t enough, he wanted more distance.

He didn’t want to see me. At all.

His absence questioned, I waved it off as the night began.

Simple, goofing around.

The fireplace and couches hung upside down as my friends stood on the carpeted ceiling. I struggled, fighting to get out of the tight wrestling grip trapping me.

I slipped free, just a bit, and the hold failed. I plummeted onto the family room floor as the world righted again – a sharp pain shooting into my left shoulder.

Tears flooded my eyes. A simple fall shouldn’t hurt so much.

“That fucking hurt, dammit!” I screamed at Lee.

My other friends stared, stunned by my overreaction. Lee stormed from my parent’s house.

The pain faded.

Our evening plans continued, sans Lee. We piled into a minivan for a Slipknot concert at a local hotel.

We sat through opening bands at a tiny table on the side. Too young for alcohol, I drank water, holding the glass to my shoulder as the dull ache tip-toed up the ladder of pain.

An hour later, I searched for some form of ice pack around the hall.


“My shoulder really hurts.” I repeated for the hundredth time.

My friends rolled their eyes, convinced my words were to milk sympathy.

“I think I might have broken something.” I voiced my biggest fear, a growing truth with every minute the discomfort increased.

“Do you need to go to the hospital?”

“Later. Maybe. If it gets worse.” I refused to be a cliché, wasting New Year’s Eve in an ER waiting room.

The night wore on.

The pain grew.

Slipknot hit the stage before the clock chimed 1997.

I walked to the front row, determined to enjoy the show. My right hand braced against a large speaker onstage, cushioning the blow to my left side as the violent mosh pit behind me repeatedly invaded my space.

My plan worked and I survived until the chords introduced the final song.

The mosh pit exploded and a train hit me. My right arm crumpled, as my entire left side slammed into the speaker.

Tears. Hot, heavy, dripping to the floor.

Cradling my injured side. Waiting for the show to end.

Riding home. Ice on roads. Slow slow slow.

Friends at my house, my parents out of town. Words surrounded me. Laughter.

I sat in the leather recliner, frozen peas on my shoulder.

Then broccoli.

Then silence.

The morning. My t-shirt soaked.

Unable to tolerate the weight of my arm upon itself. The right carried the left like a newborn.

My shirt stuck.

I dialed the phone. Grandma. “I think I broke a bone. I need to go to the hospital.”

A ride. Pain.

A two hour wait. Pain.

The diagnoses 14 hours after it happened: a broken collar bone.

Offered a shot for the pain, my needle fear chose the pills instead.

The Figure Eight of Evil ripped a scream from me as the doctor yanked my hunched forward shoulder into a rear position – the pain medication barely swallowed.

My best friend turned caretaker.

“Is it time for my pain pills yet?”


“Is it time for my pain pills yet?”

She dressed me.

My family back home, the cycle the same.

Movies. Pills.

The curtain of pain lifted on the third night.

Finally lucid, I answered the phone.

It was him.

“Where have you been? I have your Christmas gift.”

My unexplained absence was the catalyst our relationship needed.

He missed me.


This week we want you to recall something in your life that seemed terrible at the time, but looking back, brought you something wonderful.

A positive from a negative experience.

But WARNING:  Avoid cliches like “blessing in disguise” or “hindsight is 20/20”.

Be creative, but succinct.  Do this in 600 words or fewer.

Constructive criticism please! Help me improve!


About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos (www.writingwithchaos.com) sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.
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29 Responses to I Need Some Space

  1. Carrie says:

    And here I always thought it was the guys who did the tough macho thing.

    No way I could have made it through a concert with a broken collar bone!

    • If it had been any other night than New Year’s Eve, I probably would’ve caved.

      I also had no idea it was broken until about two hours after it happened, and then I was at the concert with my friends, and going would have necessitated having one of them leave the show.

      Plus? I hated doctors and feared hospitals.

      I will never refuse a shot of pain medication again…

  2. Please tell me you got the epidural?? Or are you seriously super duper tough? WOW! Great writing my friend. One part I had to go back an re-read, the ‘guy’ is not Lee right? Or is it? Is he the guy and that’s why he storms from the house?

    • LOL.

      I did get an epidural, both times. It took so long with my son to get the anesthesiologist there, I was at 9.5 cm and pushing less than 15 minutes later – which pissed me off a bit. I had no idea I’d been in transition (back) labor.

      With my daughter, I feared her labor would go on forever and I hadn’t slept all night, so I asked for an epidural so I could rest. Thirty minutes later, I hurt like hell, they gave it to me (neither time did anyone check me just prior), and they checked me immediately after. I was 9.5. Thirty seconds later, water broke & I was at 10, and 30 seconds after that I was yelling at them for telling me not to push. My daughter was born less than fifteen minutes after receiving it (she would’ve been earlier if my doctor hadn’t thought I was at 6 cm & thus not there) – the epidural didn’t even taken affect until I started pushing.

      So both times, I survived the super painful stuff without medication, only having it for pushing and delivery. With my son, it was a good thing, because they told me NOT to push several times because his heart rate dropped. WITH the epidural, it was VERY uncomfortable. I cannot imagine the agony I would’ve felt had they told me such a thing without medication supposedly numbing my torso.

      With my daughter, I was just pissed I’d caved. In my defense, I’d been in labor for 7 hours, but had “wussy” contractions and I was exhausted, because they started right as I was going to bed. I was at 4 cm at 3:30 AM (after 3.5 hours of consistent contractions less then 5 min apart, I’d been at 3 cm for two weeks already), and when the nurse shift changed at 7:15, I was at 5 cm “Six if I stretch you.” I asked for the epidural because my energy was dying and they wouldn’t let me eat (I cheated and sneaked a banana at 4, and got scolded). My epidural was put in around 7:50 AM. I wanted to push. I was told not to. I yelled. A lot. Because the drugs hadn’t taken effect, they had me laying on back, so they could and not pushing = VERY painful. Two sets of contractions (once doctor showed up) and daughter was born at 8:11 AM, less than an hour after I’d been at 5 cm.

      The gift of hindsight would have been very useful.

      Now that you know more than you ever wanted to about my childbirths… 🙂

      • I love hearing about other’s birthing stories. Have you written them down separately for both of them? I bet you have. What a gift to give them, especially with your great writing!
        glad to hear you got the epis, even if it was a bit later.

    • Oh, and “the guy” is not Lee. It’s why I put “His absence questioned, I waved it off as the night began.” about “the guy”, who probably would’ve been there otherwise.

      Lee was just one of my group of friends there that night. I think there were 5 or 6 of us, but I can’t remember.

  3. wow.
    That’s crazy that you waited so long.
    BUT. as a teenager I probably would have too.
    That’s gross that they had to pop it back.
    So gross.
    you’re a stronger woman that I would have been.

    • It wasn’t really “popped” back into place, the bone was already healing by the time I went in (with a bit of overlap, thanks to the moshpit slam). It was more of over the last 8 hrs, I’d “protected” my shoulder by hunching it forward, and carrying it with my other hand.

      The figure 8 harness (of evil) shoves your shoulders back, as though you’re thrusting out your cleavage – this is because in this position, it is very hard to move your collar bone at all.

      Or unzip your pants. Or get dressed. Or take a shower. Or anything.

      I hated the figure 8.

  4. Erin says:

    OUCHIE! I broke my collar bone and it is the WORST pain I have ever felt! I waited about 2 hours but dang not all night!

    But how perfect it worked out in the end!

    • It was probably the stupidest thing I have ever done – and that says a lot. In my defense, I had never broken a bone before, and had no idea how much worse it would get, until it was too late.

      Worst pain ever? I would concur. Childbirth has nothing on broken collar bones.

      Yes, I am rather fond of the ending. 🙂

  5. Elena says:

    Reading this I could feel the pain of your shoulder. When you started talking about the mosh pit – I was bracing my own body. Sometimes absence does make the heart grow fonder.

  6. OUCH! Great flow. I was completely caught up in the story.

    Visiting from TRDC.

  7. Miranda says:

    I broke my sister’s collar bone when we were 8 and 6.5. She cried. I laughed.

    I am evil.

    I’m glad he called.

  8. Let me say, I’m sorry for that pain. But damn girl, I like how you tell a story.
    AND love your interaction with your readers in comments.

  9. Kir says:

    ouch, ouch, ouch…but I love how a broken bone helped to heal your hearts. That part of this story, I just loved.

  10. Amy says:

    That took some major balls to go down by the mosh pit with a broken collar bone.

    Love your story!

  11. Kris says:

    Wow. It’s funny how we deal with accidents and pain when we’re young. Not sure we have the same tolerance now!!

    • I agree. Of course, now I also know it is very bad to wait if you’ve broken something and you give it time to swell.

      Four weeks later I took off the figure 8 for good (they doctor did say 4-6 weeks for healing) – the night I had 4th row seats to a Metallica concert. The best concert I have ever been too. Also, the only non-general admission one for them – I couldn’t have risked another mosh pit so soon.

  12. Jaime says:

    Great story. Your short, snippet like sentences paint a good picture of the injury. And it reminds me of stabbing, shooting pains. I liked this a lot. Glad everything worked out in the end.

    Visiting from TRDC.

  13. Renee says:

    I was so wrapped up in the pain, I totally forgot about “the guy”.
    And was Lee, then, just a friend? The relationship changed by your absence? That’s what I got, but I’m unsure.

  14. Trish Loye Elliott says:

    Hey Kelly, Just got to read it now. Holy crap, girl! A broken collarbone and you survived a mosh pit? Serious toughness there.
    The story itself was good. Not sure how you got so much into just 600 words. I’d love to see you tell it with however many you’d want. Your writing is succinct and still vibrant.
    Great work!

    • Thanks Trish. I did have to cut a lot due to word count, and leave some parts out or abbreviate them. Usually that’s a good thing.

      What you call tough, I call 20 year old stupidity. 🙂

      Thanks for the words of encouragement.

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