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"Life is short, but its the longest thing we have"
Breathing heavily, she took a large jump feeling confident that she would land it. Mid-air, her lace untied, and caught in her blade. Smiling as she continued to make her difficult landing, shrieking in pain as she crashed down hard against the frozen surface.
Landing crookedly on her backside, legs facing different directions, she could not believe what had just happened. The first thought that entered her mind was what her parents would say. She began to shiver from being in contact with the ice for too long. She felt that she had not only let herself down but in various ways, the rest of her family too.
She started crawling to the exit when her knees began to shake. Dragging herself with all the energy she had left, she fell numerous times before finally making it to the door.
Pushing, dragging, grabbing the bench where her belongings were, she bit back tears. She untied her skate and pulled out an ankle 4 times larger than the one she had put in. Unsure of what to do next, she reached for her bag, barely touching it with the tips of her fingers. She pulled it down towards her and fumbled for her cell phone, searching through all the numbers in her address book, hoping to find anyone to call other than her parents. Now that tears were finally streaming down her pale face, she thought of her grandparents, knowing she could trust them with her precious secret.
“Rebecca, where are you? What? The rink?”
Unfortunately, due to the heavy breathing and tears, Rebecca knew her attempts at explaining to her grandmother what had happened had failed. Living in a small isolated town proved to be helpful due to the fact that her grandparents knew exactly where the only rink was.
“We’ll be there soon, don’t worry!” her grandmother replied anxiously.
Rebecca continued to sit there, wet, cold, and alone. Waiting.
When Rebecca heard fast moving footsteps becoming louder and louder, she began to feel her head pounding almost as if she was going to faint. As her grandfather ran to her, Rebecca stared into his eyes and read his mind.
“Oh Rebecca, do you think you can walk?”
“No.” She responded swallowing her tears.
Her grandfather carried her into the car followed by her bag and her grandmother. For those few moments, she felt safe in his arms. Sitting in the backseat, she felt enveloped by innocuous voices asking her the same questions. Rebecca began to tell her grandparents of her accident, knowing trouble wasn’t far ahead.
“You know you’re not supposed to go to the rink let alone be there without one of your parents,” her grandmother spoke moving her head side to side. At a loss for words, Rebecca just sat there uncomfortably thinking how things couldn’t get much worse.
“Do you know what your father will say when he hears about this?”
“You can’t tell him! Please! Can’t this just stay between us?” With her eyes as wide as can be giving the infamous “puppy” eyes and feeling pretty sure that she had won her grandparents over, they let their soft side show and shut their mouths.
While staring out through the car window, Rebecca closed her eyes.
“Come on Becca, just skate to me, step by step. If you think you’re going to fall, touch your knees.” Her sister Emily taught her to skate and Rebecca looked up to her for everything. Rebecca felt that skating was what brought her and Emily closer. She loved spending time with Emily when she got the chance, especially while skating.
As they pulled up to the hospital, her grandfather left the car in search of a wheel chair. “Rebecca, come on, I’ll help you into the chair. As Rebecca readjusted to reality, she began to wince in pain. She stared down at her large blue ankle throbbing as if it had its own heartbeat. Her grandfather began to wheel her into the hospital and all she could think about was her sister.
Her grandparents went to check her in and she sat in the waiting room. She blankly stared at the little children playing with the toys wondering what possibly could be wrong with them. As her eyes traveled slowly from the children, they caught the soda machine. Realizing she was thirsty, she began to glaze over the options. Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Dr. Pepper, Water. All such eligible choices. Searching through her pockets for any loose change, she could not find any. Her eyes rapidly left the machine in search of something to take her mind off of her ankle. She rested her eyes on the sight of a mother and her baby, staring at every move the baby made trying to make sense out of it.
Now her grandmother was wheeling her into an examination room and she began to take deep breaths to calm herself. She was lifted onto a table and waited until a doctor arrived.
“Rebecca, we’ll be out here once you finish talking to the nurse.”
She nodded her head slightly and sat on the table blanketed in paper for sanitary purposes. While waiting there, she began to shake. The wait felt like forever until the door opened and a nurse walked through with her eyes fixed on a clipboard.
“Are you Rebecca?”
“Yes.” She answered apprehensively.
As the nurse began asking her questions such as on a scale of one to ten how much her ankle hurt, she began to calm down. Thinking that she might actually get away without her parents knowing, she let out a sigh of relief. Soon enough the nurse began to walk away.
“The doctor will be with you shortly.”
Like clockwork, the doctor arrived and introduced himself.
“Good afternoon, hanging in there?”
“By a thread…” she replied.
“Mind if I take a look?”
She nodded her head insisting that he may. Ouch, she thought to herself. He asked her to lie down in attempts to take an x-ray. He left the room to continue with the procedure. About ten minutes later, he walked back in looking deeply into the partly transparent picture of her abnormal ankle. Inviting her grandparents back in, he began to explain the issues.
“It seems she has broken her bone in three places, not to mention the severe bruising not only on the bone itself but shining through to the outside of her skin.”
“So what does this mean, she gets a cast and she’s good?” her grandfather questioned.
“Well it’s a bit more complicated than that. From my experiences, the X-ray shows to be a pretty rough break and I believe to secure the safety of her bone, a small surgery is in order.”
Her heart sank. All chances of keeping this from her parents crumbled in front of her eyes. Her heart started beating through her chest, her pupils dilated, her hands began to shake. Her grandmother came to comfort her.
“Are you her legal guardians?”
“Oh no, were her grandparents.”
“Have you called her parents yet?”
“We have not yet, but will.”
The doctor asked to talk to her grandparents outside while a nurse came in to keep Rebecca company.
“So how did this little incident occur?”
“Ice Skating.” Rebecca responded sadly.
“I heard those were your grandparents, are your parents on their way?” the nurse questioned.
“Do they have to be here?”
“They should be.” The nurse answered, puzzled.
Rebecca knew the nurse was wondering why she didn’t want her parents to know about this but didn’t have the willpower to explain without becoming an emotional wreck.
“Would you like a drink?” the nurse asked innocently
As the nurse walked through the door, she saw her grandmother on her cell phone. As their eyes locked, Rebecca heard her grandmother say, “Calm down, Richard!” She imagined her father yelling and began to tear but began to chant to herself “don’t cry don’t cry don’t cry” repetitively as she breathed deeply. She heard a yell from outside instantly reminding her of the accident.
As I skated closer to her, she was too focused on me to realize the man heading towards her.
“Emily! Look Out!” It was too late, he had already crashed into her, breaking her arm and paralyzing her from the waist down. She lay there, on the ice, cold, and broken. As she moaned, all I could do was stare at her. Her legs facing one way and the rest of her body facing the other. Her arms fell away from her as if she had no control over them. Her face, scrunched up from her discomfort. I looked away from her and focused my eyes on the ice beneath her. Tinted with a light red from the cuts a scrapes she was given all up her arms, zigzag as if it were meant to be a design. What had I done? I couldn’t believe my eyes. My sister, my role model, my best friend.
All Emily used to talk about was winning the national competition she was then qualified for and how she thought she really had a chance. Due to Emily’s condition, she was taken out of the ranking for the national championship. Ever since then, Rebecca made it a necessity to qualify for nationals and win it for her sister. The only issue that stood in her way was that her parents forbid her from skating. Rebecca snuck in clandestine practices and used her allowance to pay for sessions.
As Rebecca drifted back to actuality, she looked up and saw exactly what she was running away from. Her parents. She accidentally looked straight into her father’s eyes and after a short few seconds, she broke away. The doctor left the room and she knew the worst was yet to come.
“What were you thinking, how could you do this to us?”
“Take a look around dad, this is me, not you, I’m the one with the broken ankle, I’m the one going through this all, its not about you, its never about you!”
Rebecca saw for the first time, a tear fall down her fathers rosy cheeks. Without so much as a word, her father left the room. Her mother stood there speechless.
“I didn’t mean to…”
“I know.” Her mother interrupted.
Rebecca didn’t know what to say. After about a minute of silence, her mother left the room to comfort her father.
Rebecca thought it was ridiculous to be in the hospital for three days for a couple of broken bones. As she began to wake up from another nights sleep, the doctor walked in.
“Good morning, there is someone here to see you.”
Rebecca looked out the door and was surprised to see her sister, Emily wheeling herself in. Rebecca cracked a smile.
“Wow, you’re really trying to be like me aren’t you?” Emily said jokingly.
“I’m so sorry. ” Rebecca began. “You wouldn’t be in a wheel chair if it wasn’t for me.”
“You still think it was your fault? Becca, it had nothing to do with you, you were 10. If my accident never happened, I wouldn’t have learned half as much as I have about myself. I’m a good artist and love doing it, something I never did before. Like gramps always says, “You only get one life and its short,” and as Emily finished her sentence, Rebecca joined in “but it’s the longest thing we have.”
“I don’t have much time,” Emily said, smiling warmly. “I have to be home soon, Ill see you in a few days.”
Emily wheeled herself out and all Rebecca could think about were Emily’s words. When did she become so inspirational? Rebecca began to think. What did Rebecca love? Skating, all Rebecca wanted to do was qualify for the national championship but she knew she had missed the deadline to send in her name to the rankings. Unexpectedly, a note sealed in a purple envelope with blue and orange stripes was handed to her. This was Emily’s signature envelope and she never used a different kind. She designed it herself. Rebecca began to rip it open. The front read,
Just because it was taken away from me, doesn’t mean you can’t try.
Win it for you and for me.
She opened it up to the middle and saw a letter from the association that works with the championships. As she read further it went on to tell her that she was put in the rankings for the competition in two months. But who? Rebecca asked herself who could possibly have sent in her name. Emily.
Walking on crutches was harder than it looked but she was thrilled when her grandfather picked her up to bring her home. They drove in silence as Rebecca saw how the leaves were changing color during the few days she resided in the hospital. Arriving home, she scurried inside to find her family sitting in the kitchen, laughing and enjoying each other’s company. Her parents greeted her with hugs and kisses and walked her over to join the table where they had a warm breakfast waiting for her.
This was a new beginning. They hadn’t had a family meal together since Emily’s accident. Rebecca couldn’t stop smiling.
Weeks later, Rebecca was able to begin practicing again. She hadn’t lost much skill but even began landing her jumps with great strength. With the competition being within the next few days, she became very anxious. Emily was still the only one who knew about the competition.
The day before the competition, Rebecca sat her family down at the kitchen table.
“Look, I know you will disapprove of my decision but I would like you to be there to support me. Tomorrow is the national championships and I am set to perform.”
Rebecca’ s parents looked at each other and without even speaking, came to the same decision.
“We can’t stop you if you choose to do this,” her father said as he stood up. “But don’t expect us to be there to watch you.” He walked out of the room. Her mother raised her eyebrows at Rebecca before following him. Emily looked at her with a mixture of kindness and sadness.
“At least you tried,” Emily said. She would have to go at it alone.
The next day came faster than expected. Driving herself to the event was nerve-racking. She walked into the arena, dodging contestants surrounded by their parents and friends alike. As she made her way to the dressing room, she put on her skates and did a few warm up exercises. Her ankle throbbed and heart pounded as backing out became a possibility in her mind until she pulled out Emily’s letter. Win it for you and me.
She stretched her ankle as she slowly walked out and looked around in the stands, scanning to see if her parents actually came. No such luck. As everyone made their way to their seats, she stood, with all the other contestants. She turned to each side of her, staring her components up and down noticing every little detail. The girl directly next to her was wearing a purple dress with sequins and a large V down the back of her dress. Rebecca looked down at her dress and bit her lip. Her dress was one she found in the back of Emily’s closet. Dark blue with a sparkly neckline, nothing very special. She felt completely different from everyone else.
The announcer commenced and introduced every skater before they performed. Each skater was from a different state all over the Country. After completing their routine and exiting the ice, each contestant hugged the others. It all was going by too fast. Soon enough, Rebecca realized she was next in line. After hugging the contestant in front of her, she waited for her name.
“And now… Rebecca Simon from Massachusetts.”
She could hear her heart beating through her ears and she took once last look in the crowd. Suddenly her eyes stopped. Her parents and sister placed themselves in her sights. She stepped on to the ice smiling wider than she had ever since Emily’s accident, with her support team cheering for her the whole way through.