Discoveries – Chapter 1: Faking It

It all started by accident. And not the accident I will be telling about later on. Just a simple, minor thing – which became much bigger than I have ever could imagine.

I went to see a movie with my friends – Sharon, Guy and Daniel. Sharon and Guy are a couple; Daniel and I were meant to be – Guy tried to fix us up, but after two dates we’ve both thought it wouldn’t work out. We said we’d still be friends. I was lying. I did not want to be his friend. I found it very hard, actually, because I was really attracted to him, and actually found him very hard to resist. But we had very few things in common, and not very much to talk about. Why we thought we could still become Friends – I have no idea.

Anyway, we were on our way to the movies. The movie-theatre was inside a large, ugly, marble-covered mall. It was packed with people. Everything was very bright and noisy. Everyone was rushing around from one shop to another, from one junkfood joint to another, spending money. We were all tired and hoped the movie might supply us with fine entertainment. We were rushing as well, not wanting to miss the beginning. Guy ran ahead, dragging Sharon behind him by the hand. Daniel and I ran after them, but the crowed had separated us from them and we were way behind. I jumped a little to see how far they were, and shouted – “buy the tickets, we’ll meet you two inside!” The words were still hanging in the air like a comics-balloon, when I tripped over a stool that belonged to one of the eat-and-run spots, and finished elegantly by slipping over the just-washed and wet floor.

I have to take a little break now and tell about my all-time passion. Ever since I was in elementary school, I have wanted to be casted. I have always envied the boys that brake their arm playing basketball and other sport, or the girls who tripped and got elegant-looking bandages, slings and crutches. But I have always been very healthy; never even went to the hospital for a minor operation. Never had to wear more than a simple band-aid; never been ill for more than a few days. Being an only child, I have always been used to getting plenty of attention. But like an addict, I always need more and more. I have always regarded the fantasy of being seriously ill or injured, and having to stay a long time in a hospital as the top aspiration of my endless attention seeking.

People gathered around me almost immediately, someone helped me up. Daniel rushed towards me, and asked if I was all right. I said I was. Then I stepped on my left foot and almost screamed with pain. “Oh my God”, said Daniel, “Are you sure you’re OK?” My eyes involuntarily filled with tears of pain. I tried to step again. It hurt, but now not as bad. “Can you walk at all?” Asked Daniel with concerned eyes. “I think so”, I muttered, and limped forward a little bit. “May be it’s just a sprain”, I said. He took my arm and put it round his shoulder. I shivered a bit. “Here”, he said. “Lean on me and jump. Let’s get out of this crowd”. We emerged slowly, I jumping and clutching him, he walking in tiny steps, one arm tight around my waste. So close.

By the time we got to the cashiers I knew my foot was not even sprained. The pain slowly faded away, and in fact I felt much better. I looked down at my foot and saw it wasn’t at all swollen – a good thing in general, but I wasn’t ready to admit this yet. I leaned on the wall and put on a sad expression. “Does it hurt bad?” asked Daniel. He had the cutest worrying face. “Yes”, I said sheepishly and lowered my eyes. I didn’t want him to notice the glee of joy; he thought I looked down at my sore foot. “I’m going to get Sharon and Guy and we’ll see what to do”, he said, and disappeared in the long line of people.

I had to think quickly: What to do? Here is the perfect opportunity to live a fantasy. But how? Going to the ER is out of the question, now that the pain has faded almost completely. I would look stupid. The best thing is to act on it a little bit, and squeeze all the sympathy I can get for now.

They all came back, and I limped towards them bravely. “Are you OK?” asked Sharon immediately. “Yeah”, I said, putting a sad smile on. “Do you still want to see the movie?” asked Guy. He held the tickets in his hand. “I guess so”, I said. “It’s not so bad. Not broken, anyway, nothing a doctor can do. It’ll probably just fade away by itself.” “I’ll help you in”, said Daniel. He put his arm around my waist again, and my arm on his shoulder. I got goose bumps of delight. We walked in slowly, and I chose a seat close to the pathway between the seats. I leant down towards my ankle and started rubbing it. It still hurt a little, but not “enough”. “How is it?” Daniel leant towards me, and put his soft hand on my ankle. “Ouch”, I groaned. It felt so good…

By the time the movie had started, I had it all planed. I knew what I had to do. At the recess, I will say that it hurt too much and I want to go home and rest it for a while. I will not allow any of them to escort me, saying that it’s not that bad and that I’m OK to go alone. I will limp out of the movie theatre, and limp all the way out to my car. I will then drive to a pharmacy and get myself one of those elastic bandages that support sprains. Tomorrow I will wear it to the university, and will finally get to live, even for a short while, my all-times fantasy.

The plan worked out great. The only change was that Daniel insisted on escorting me out of the mall to my car. I couldn’t object so much, because I deeply desired him holding me a little bit more. It took us a round 10 minutes to finally get to where the car was parked, all that time him holding me real tight, making me stop for rests and rubbing my ankle whenever we stopped. “Are you sure you’re OK to drive home like this?” he asked when we finally got to the car. “Yeah, I’ll be fine”, I said. “It has automatic gear.” He watched me as I settled in my seat and drove away.

I drove to a close-by pharmacy and started looking for a bandage. I took one and went to the cashier. The woman asked – “is it for you?” “Yes”, I said, noticing too late that by the time, I had forgotten all about “limping”. “What’s wrong?” She asked. Nosy woman! I thought. Then I had a splendid idea: “I’m in an amateur play,” I said, “and I need it for my character. Do you know where I can get crutches, also?” “Yes!” She said, pleased to help. She then told me of a welfare place, where they lend crutches, wheelchairs and so on to people who only need it for a short while, with no charge, just a minor deposit or donation. I paid, thanked her and went out. I drove straight to that place; the acting story worked again. I got a pair of wooden-crutches, that were quite heavy, yet very steady and just the right size. I tried using them on the spot. “You need some practice,” smiled the woman who volunteered there. “I know,” I smiled back. “Well, an actor has to do what an actor has to do…”

I put the bandage on the minute I got home. My ankle was still a bit sore, but it was a lame excuse for a bandage. At first I made it as tight as I could, but then I decided not to cut-off my circulation. I wanted to be temporarily crippled, not permanently. I then tried the crutches again. It was hard. After 10 minutes my armpits were sore, and my arms stiff and aching. I decided to rest for a while. I put a big pillow on the sofa and turned the TV on. I sat on the sofa, my left ankle resting on the pillow. My crutches were on the floor beside me. I imagined the next day – what a heaven it will be. I will make sure to meet Daniel as early as possible. The thought of his arm around me made me shiver again with delight. The feeling was so good. I watched some TV and then tried to crutch again, from my room to the kitchen. After some practicing I felt better. Then I made some new decisions: I will come later to school than usual, on crutches of course. I will tell Guy, Sharon and Daniel that when I woke up in the morning my ankle was so sore and swollen, I drove straight to see a doctor, and he “ordered” bandage and crutches for at least 10 days. After 10 days I “will be allowed to put weight on my foot”, and then it will be bandage only. I was looking forward for the next day; my foot prompted up on the pillow, the memories of Daniel’s arm – I felt heaven was here and now.

The next day I woke up later than usual. I smiled at the sight of my bandaged foot resting on the pillow. I took the bandage of to check it: it was perfectly fine, except for the thin marks that the bandage had left on it. I grabbed the crutches from the floor and made my way to the washroom. I sat on the toilet-seat with my foot high, not letting it touch the ground. When I brushed my teeth, I put both crutches under my right arm and leaned on my right leg. I used my left hand to brush – that felt weird, being right-handed. When I was done I crutched towards the kitchen. I put the crutches on the floor and had my coffee. It was almost lunchtime; my first class was at eight.

When I finally got to the university, I headed straight to the cafeteria, for my big “entrance”. It was great from the very first moment. A guy I didn’t know opened the door for me, and held it as I went through it. I stood at the doorway for a few seconds, looking around for people I know. The place was very crowded. Many people stared at me. Then I heard someone calling my name. It was Guy. “O my God,” he said as he approached me. “Is that from yesterday’s fall? I didn’t realize then that it was this serious.” Sharon and Daniel were right behind him. “I was looking for you all morning,” said Sharon. “Where have you been?” I told them my “story” – how I had to take a painkiller to help me sleep last night, and how the pain woke me up in the morning. How I took a cab to the doctor’s, because I was too sore. How x-rays didn’t reveal anything, but he ordered bandage and crutches for 10 days, and not to put any weight on my foot.

Daniel immediately led me to a near-by seat, and said he would bring me a food trey. I put the crutches on the floor, and my foot on another chair. When he came back with the food we all ate together. “You will need help,” said Daniel, not asking but stating a fact. “Wait for me after the lessons and I will come to help you. I can drive you home today, if you want.” I laughed. He was so cute! “I’m not cripple yet, you know,” I said. “But I will need some help.”

The rest of the day was heaven. People held doors for me, chairs, elevators. Teachers as well as fellow students asked what happened and gave advice. My foot never once touched the ground. The only thing I was sorry about was that I wasn’t in a real cast. That night when I came home I was quite exhausted. My arms hurt a little from all the crutching, and though I enjoyed the attention, I was tired of speaking to practically everyone and telling the same story over and over again.

Three great days flew by. My foot was “doing well”, as I said to all who asked. Sometimes I would take off the bandage and rub it, pretending I was in pain. Or I would “accidentally” bump it into a chair or a wall, and then shriek with pain. I pretended when I was home as well: Never did I let my foot touch the floor. When I took a bath (showers were out of the question), I washed my ankle softly and carefully, trying hard not to bend it. My foot was prompted up on a pillow whenever I went to bed or sat in the living room. I was by now used to the crutches, and could move about pretty quickly. I did not show that talent, though, because being a slow-walker gave me more time with Daniel. He didn’t leave my side. I could see that my limping and hobbling about fascinated him. And I did anything to deserve the extra attention…

The forth day started just as usual. I brushed my teeth sitting on the edge of the bathtub, and then crutched to the kitchen for my morning’s coffee. I drank it and mused over Daniel, and his strong, helping arms. Only when I finished my coffee I noticed the time – I was almost half an hour late for my first class! I must have over-slept for some reason! Rushing, I took my bag from the table, picked up my crutches and started walking out. For the first time in 4 days, I wished I could get rid of them. I used the elevator and then struggled to get the building’s door open and get out. My flat was only 5 minutes walk away from Uni; That is, walking, not crutching… I crutched as fast as I could. 45 minutes late. The first period will be over in 5 minutes. I slowed down, realizing I will not make it. I had just enough time to get to the second class. “Oh well,” I thought to myself, “I’ll find someone to take the notes from.” I got to the crossing. Cars were flying by, and I, being aware of my limitations, waited patiently for the road to be clear. There were absolutely no cars anywhere at sight when I started crossing, hopping along on my crutches. Then I suddenly tripped; my right leg somehow stumbled on my right crutch, and I almost fell down – crutches, bag and all. I steadied myself carefully and just stood there for a split-of-a-second, to ease my heartbeats. At that split of the second it happened.

The following was told to me, as I only vaguely remember these facts: A huge truck came speeding towards me. The driver did not obey the “stop” sign at the crossing, and only noticed I was there when it was too late. He pressed the breaks – I remember that sound well – but could not stop on time. He hit me from the left so hard, that I was thrown a good few meters. I landed on the road, and my head bumped on the sidewalk. From that moment on all was black for me; But more horror was to come. Another car, coming from the right, had just made the turn to that road. When “flying” in the air due to the truck’s hit, I landed on the road, just in front of that other car. The driver breaked quickly, but only stopped after hitting me and pushing my unconscious body a few more centimeters on the road. I don’t remember anything about how I got to the hospital. I woke up 3 days later, to a whole new way of life.

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