I always believed I was invincible, that nothing could stop me. I was fearless, always up for the next big prank or adventure. My black makeup, purple lips and pale skin made people afraid of me, and I liked it. I was a mystery, few knew who I really was, and few actually wanted to know. Life was great -if you looked at it from my pessimistic view- but I had no idea what life could be like.
But then on a dark and snowy Halloween night, I went to pick up my costume from my mother’s friend so I could go to a party. I headed down her basement stairs, and on the second step my friend started slipping. I turned to stop her because I lead the way and I knew that if she went down, I was going with her. Time moved slowly as I turned to catch her, my foot stayed locked to the wooden stair, and my knee twisted. The next thing I knew, I was on my way to the bottom, riding my side the whole way. I laid there helpless, a big puddle of black clothes.
My mom, who never believes me when I get hurt, ordered me to get up, but my body screamed, “No!” The lightning bellowing from my ankle wouldn’t let me. My mom took my friend to the party, and I sat and waited for her to take me to the ER. When she returned, she had me crawl up the stairs, carefully, as so not to bang my leg. As I was going up, I heard her friend whisper, “Look at her leg, its black.” And my mother gasped. That was when I knew it went from bad to worse.
My obviously broken ankle now resembled a huge grapefruit. The x-rays revealed two spiral fractures up my Tibia and Fibula, and a break that went horizontally across both bones. Later the doctor told me that because of the severity of the break, I would be lucky to ever walk again. But my leg miraculously healed. I went through five weeks of physical therapy, and I had to relearn how to walk.
I used to believe that I was unbreakable, that my hard appearance would save me from the dangers of the world. Now I have learned what it means to be fragile, what it means to be alive. I am now cautious and I no longer hide behind gothic makeup and tough clothes.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.