“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.
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.
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.