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A Step Beyond Sanity

A glass half full of water is sweating next to the couch. Its cool contents will not be refreshing a dry throat this miserable summer day. The house is in shambles, with pillows and sheets littering the stairwell. There is an eerie silence only broken by the subtle sounds of the television. “Ugh!”The shrill grunts of Maria Sharapova echo throughout the empty house as she plays her semi-final match of what could be her championship weekend at Wimbledon. No one is glued to the couch this blistering summer day, at least not anymore.


It was the summer leading to my 7th grade year. I made it through my first year of middle school with minor bumps and bruises from an “interesting”, to say the least, football season. From my experience in football I learned I was not the roughest, toughest, tween that I thought I was. But I made it through the season nonetheless. With a football season under my belt, I was a bad ass 12-year-old! No one could tell me what to do. I was coasting on top of the world, at an altitude where no one would be crazy enough to touch me. Or so I thought.


Since the time when diapers were all the rage, I’ve been friends with my buddies Tanner and Carter. They moved off to Scottsdale before 4th grade, but I still saw them multiple times a year due to our strong friendship. They would come over for my birthday, or other occasions to sleep over, and I would do the same. No matter where we were we always had fun. We would just mess around playing video games, hide and seek, or doing anything else we could think of. One of the most entertaining pastimes we participated in was a game called pillow races. We would put sheets on the staircase, and then slide down the stairs in pillow cases to the bottom. It was always a radical time. We would step up the stakes each run, making the track more and more fun (or dangerous, depending on one’s perspective).


By increasing the number of pillows and sheets on the “track” we would ultimately go faster and faster, adding more and more tumbles down the stairs. At the end of the day Holly (my sister), Tanner, Carter, and I would be bursting with giggles exhausted atop all the sheets at the bottom of the stairs. It was good clean fun. We never expected anything bad to come from it.


While my mom was watching the tennis match intensify, we decided to step up the intensity of the pillow races. Sharapova drove in a serve. Tanner jumped from five stairs up onto a mattress we put at the bottom. Maria’s opponent whizzed a forehand back to “Sherry’s” backhand side. I leapt from the 7th step, gliding gracefully to the bottom without a care in the world. Sherry hit a winner down the line. Tanner said, “Dang, Ryna(my nickname to Tanner), you crazy!” As the tennis match approached a tiebreak, my sister of all people decided to challenge my authority of stair king. The tension rose as Sharapova won the first two points. My fear of looking like a coward in front of my friends made me accept my sister’s challenge. Sharapova lost 4 games, and my sister landed delicately from the 13th step. Maria Sharapova lost two more games, before winning seven straight. I decided it was my time to shine. My friends were watching as intently as if I were a professional tennis player playing to win a set. I jumped from the top; all eyes were on me as 14 stairs passed under my feet. Sharapova powered in a serve that her opponent barely hit back over the net. She wound up to hit a winner, sucking in air. A simultaneous grunt erupted throughout the house followed by a scream.
The tension finally broke. Sharapova screamed with joy for the victory of the hard fought set. The intensity of the set brought her to her limits, but the whole crowd kept her going strong. My friends acted as this crowd to me. They unknowingly encouraged me to reach my physical limits. I jumped an entire staircase! Then let out a scream… of pain! “Holly, get mom! I just broke my ankle!”
As the sounds of Maria Sharapova’s grunts echoed throughout my house, my friends and I drove to the hospital. Instead of looking tough in front of my friends by jumping off the top of the stairs, I was going into shock and my ankle was swelling to the size of a softball. The tension caused by the millions of viewers allowed Maria Sharapova to go on and win Wimbledon. She had an entire crowd cheer her as she reached her physical limits, and she proved dominant over the pressure. I attempted to assert my dominance over the house, but tile proved to be too strong a competitor. The pressure associated with my ankle was too great, shattering it. I broke all three bones in my ankle and needed surgery.
Instead of winning part of a grand slam, I was stuck in the hospital for four days, cringing with every small move. Sharapova’s ego swelled tremendously due to her great feat. My foot was the only thing swelling for me that day. She was able to walk off the court with a huge grin. All I could manage was a weak grimace as I tried to keep my composure through the unimaginable pain while I was carted around in a wheelchair. Maria Sharapova’s family bawled in awe as their daughter won one of the most prestigious tennis tournaments in existence that weekend. My family bawled because of my stupidity. They would ultimately need to wait on me hand and foot for almost a year, for I was unable to do any physical activity due to the extent of my injury. There is a primordial instinct to strive for dominance. However, an individual needs to step away from their given situation and decide if glory is worth the cost of a final leap.





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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

popcorn said...
Dec. 2, 2011 at 2:45 am
Ryan,the tennis game became a wonderful foil for your mishap.The tension grew with the parallel events. Good job! Keep writing.
 
teach said...
Dec. 1, 2011 at 9:39 pm
Ryan, a lot of gentle leaps have made you into the excellent writer that you are.  I am amazed by your expressive ability but not surprised.  Students like yourself have given my teaching experience many leaps of joy and inspiration.
 
rberns replied...
Dec. 2, 2011 at 1:20 am
Thank you!!! It's teachers like yourself that have allowed me to flourish in such ways!
 
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