I have been told this a million times before: Don’t read while you’re walking. But there’s such a thing as turning a deaf ear, a fault I’m famous for, a fault I don’t feel particularly bad about. After all, every other kid does it. Even teens and adults are guilty of it—WhatsApping while walking, or just fiddling with Snapchat, fixing whiskers or rabbit ears on a friend’s face. You won’t find me doing such things, but books? That’s so me.
So the other day last week, I was deep in this scene in Percy Jackson, the part where Piper stabbed the Cyclops in the back, turning it into a cloud of ashes. The recess bell had just gone off, and my plan was to spend the entire half hour tucking into the Nutella sandwich in my lunchbox and my Percy Jackson. I never made it to the canteen, unfortunately. I had tumbled down a flight of stairs—from the third level to the mid-way landing, a good twelve steps.
You know how the cartoon characters would fall in a spinning roll or a bouncing boing boing boing, mine was neither. It was more like a slip-sliding tumble, a momentary blackout, and that weird feeling that you’ve lost all control of your limbs. While I didn’t hear any boing boing boing, the journey down the stairs was filled with a series of painful thuds before it stopped in a bubble of silence. There at the landing, half-dazed, with my right cheek on the ground, and my arms like cactus, I felt a sharp pain in my right ankle.
A student from Primary Three Ixora was the first to spot me. Her name was Irene. Like a buzzing bee, she spread the word so quickly. By the end of the day, I was home, feeling dreary that I had spent most of the day at the hospital, taking X-rays, and having a cast immobilizing my right foot. This clunky piece of clay-like boot came half-way up the calf. I had fractured my ankle—just a hair-line fracture, the doctor said, not to worry.
This stupid accident meant that I couldn’t run my race the day after, the 100 meters, the one race at Sports Day that I had a chance to win. The prospect of gimping along in that cast for at least a month or more was dreadful. Will my foot smell? Will my toes go limb from lack of movement? What if there was an itch there? Even if the cast came off, I’m sure I would have lost my sprinting groove.
Mommy tried her best to be cheery, even though she was totally heartbroken. But I pretended not to know she felt that way. We are both great pretenders, masters of the poker face. The next afternoon, after lunch, our silly game of poker and pretense gave way to a moment of giddy joy.
Mommy walked right into my bedroom with a gift box decked out with a turquoise bow. I tugged at the bow, and peeled the wrapper carefully, half-guessing it was a bunch of books—assessment books, to be precise, and study guides, knowing Mommy! My guess was only half-right. How I had underestimated her! My goodness, Percy Jackson! The entire collection.
“Happy now?” Mommy said, beaming. “At least, you don’t have to borrow your Percy Jacksons anymore.”
Therese Lee, Primary Five
For more essays by Therese, visit Therese Writes.
This essay was written in response to two boxed pictures: (1) a gift box, and (2) a foot in a cast
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