Danger: My First Near-Death Experience This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

May 6, 2010
I was five years old. It was a typical Saturday; me sitting on the ground watching my father work on the house. Having gone through this same exact routine millions of times before, I was, in essence, bored. Few times did adventure seem to call to me like a master calls his dog, but today was one of those times. I stood, brushed off my shorts, and was off.

Now, you have to understand – to a five-year-old boy, a Ford F350 is humongous. It is a young kids’ Everest, so to speak. Now that you have been informed of this, I shall continue with my tale.

My dad was not paying attention. His focus was on his current project, which I believe to have been building a dresser. The path to his normally forbidden truck was left wide open. I made a break for it, hoping to make it to the cover of the truck before my father turned. Miraculously, I did, and adventure tugged at me harder than ever.

I looked up at the back of the truck – the hatch was down. Considering it for a moment, I changed my mind. While I had no doubt that I could make the small jump that would bring my hands in contact with the edge, my mind shied away from the prospect of my small arms hauling me up and over. No, I would have to access the bed some other way.

Working my way around the truck, I looked for some way to accomplish this previously unheard of feat. Amazingly, I wasn’t spotted for a second time. I had completed a full circuit before I came to the answer I was looking for: the tires. I could step up on one easily, and then it would just be a matter of climbing it. This fact was immaterial to me, however: my five-year-old mind’s confidence could not be swayed. Climbing the play set in the back yard had been easy enough; why not a tire?

So as not to worry my dad with my childish adventures, I moved around to the side of the truck opposite the house, where I couldn’t easily be seen. In retrospect, I feel like this was not the best idea I had come up with.

Before I go any farther, you should know the layout of my street. It was a regular street, with my house on one side and a gravel sidewalk on the other. My dad’s truck was on the side of the road with the gravel, and I was on the side of the truck nearest to the gravel.

I set my right foot on the bottom rim of the tire. Easy enough, right? Then my right hand on the top of the tire. Simple as simple could be, correct? Then, I cautiously lifted my left foot to the metal thing sticking out in the middle of the tire. This is where my journey started to get tricky. My left hand couldn’t quite reach the rim of the bed, but I was too afraid to bring my right foot up any farther. I contemplated returning to the ground, but then my pride kicked in.

With a sudden burst of courage, I scrabbled up the tire, ending with both feet on the top of the tire and both hands on the rim of the bed. Adrenaline coursing through my veins, I attempted to swing one leg over. This was, of course, when things went horribly wrong.

My foot touched the side of the truck, not quite getting the height I needed. Off-balance already, I foolishly flailed, letting go of the rim of the bed and kicking off from the side of the truck and the tire. I flew through the air for a few seconds, seeing all the things one would hope to see if one was flying through the air towards their death. You know, the general flashing-of-your-life-before-your-eyes, the what-could-I-have-done-better, that sort of thing. Then, I hit the gravel.

I didn’t scream. I let out a sort of muffled grunt-squeak. Difficult to explain, and even harder to demonstrate. This, mixed with the sound of flesh hitting gravel and bone cracking, was what brought my father over to investigate.

Due to the fact that I was in shock, I am not completely sure what his face looked like. If I had to guess, though, I would have to say a mix of horror (from his son being injured) to anger (from his son being injured). Not the most pleasant face to see anybody make.

The fiction writer in me would like to exaggerate and claim that I was lying in a small pool of blood, but that was not the case. From what I have heard and what I remember, there was minor head bleeding, mixed with multiple other injuries. I didn’t drink enough milk, you see.

I was driven to the hospital and deposited on one of those beds in the ER. They hooked me up to some “sleepy juice” and I was off to Dreamland. I awoke a couple of hours later, sporting an arm cast and stitches. My mother was furious at both me and my dad; me for not being careful and my dad for not watching me carefully enough. My sister, also sporting an arm cast from an incident a week or two earlier, was just sitting there, holding her stuffed animal.

The drive home took only a few minutes, but to my child-brain, it took hours, especially with the silence. We got home, I went to bed, and life resumed its normality.

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