One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

October 24, 2017
By , Broomfield, CO

Each step forward makes my knees quiver. I can feel my heart racing, and my breath quickening. I peer over the edge and my stomach jumps into my throat. My mind skims over some of my best memories here, I see flashes of my family and my closest friends. Turning back quickly to offer the guide a sheepish smile I utter a reluctant “Ready.”
“On three jump,” He responds his bright smile blinding me. “One,” Oh no I think to myself, What am I doing right now. “Two,” Is it too late to turn back? I begin to panic. “Three!” The guide ushers my feet off the platform and I am airborne. Suddenly it’s like my body has put my mind on mute. I’m flying forward, a whirlwind of giddy and bubbles. For a brief second I feel like I am taking flight, my physical body suspended in the air and my mind trailing behind me. Then my splintered being returns to a whole when I splash into the mild water. My feet sinking lower and lower. This is all I remember before my whole world turns a dark molten black. 
I have tried my hardest to block out how the story of that day ends. Instead I turn to my dreams to reinvent the tragic events of last July. (1)Each night I have variations of the same dream, they all revolve around the accident. (1 Semicolon) As I drift into restless sleep fragmentations of my imagination take over; I can’t seem to tell the difference. This time when I splash into the water there is no rocks, no pain, no blood. It is a feeling like no other. I am refreshed and relieved and overjoyed all rolled up into one Sophia. Again everything regains a sense of peace and calm that now can only be achieved in this alternate reality. I find myself laughing as I pop my head out of the clear sea. Salt water stings my eyes and hair plastered itself across my face, but in this moment I feel such immense joy. Taking soft strokes back to shore I can hear my friends and family cheering me on from the banks of the cliffs. I look over at Carly, and she makes a goofy face.
“I knew you could do it Phi! All you needed was a little push.” She teases me.
(2)“Yeah well, I’m just glad I did it eventually. Now please come help me out.” I draw out my syllables. Dramatizing my words in the joking tone Carly and I use often.
“Ok princess.” She sighs as she putters over to where I’m treading water. I reach a wrinkled hand up to her and grab on tight. A mischievous thought succumbs me and with a sharp pull I yank Carly into the water beside me. “Agh!” She squeals as her long limbs fly into the glimmering water. I collapse into a fit of laughter  as I struggle to pull myself up onto the scruffy rocks. She emerges brushing the dark hair out of her face. “Phi,” She says tentatively “I love you but I’m going to kill you!” the last part comes out with a hint of a smile and before we know it we are swimming around in the pools of Mykonos. Laughing and splashing like we didn’t have a care in the world. This story is perfect. Unfortunately it isn’t mine. Carly’s smiling face is the last thing I see as I fade back into my real life.
(3)“Sophia, it’s time to wake up.” My mother softly shakes my shoulders. She knows to stay away from my left side of my body. Which still radiates with pain. “I know you’re tired. But Carly invited you out to lunch. That sounds nice doesn’t it?” She pretends to ask but I can tell by the influx of her voice this will not be an option. Carly and I were so close up until the accident. After all we went to Greece together, which is a pretty big deal. Carly and I were simple and easy. Quite the classic lifetime friend story. After performing the same dance in the 2nd grade talent show, we were inseparable. Carly’s loud and carefree attitude seemed to bring out the best in my more reserved tendencies. Of course we had other friends, but Carly and I were a package deal. Carly and Sophia, Sophia and Carly. One name was rarely said without the other. Carly’s older brother was our school’s star quarterback so she was known by everyone. I was usually fine with it, attention wasn’t my thing anyway. But after the accident the only thing Carly reminded me was of pain. Part of me wishes she had never suggested cliff diving. Maybe everything would be different. I think about it all as I get ready for lunch with Carly. Looking in the mirror I trace a light finger across the rough scar. It falls from my hairline along the side of my face. Even almost a year later it’s still sensitive. A permanent reminder of the time when a rock lodged itself 3 inches into the frontal lobe of my brain.
They tell me it’s a miracle that I survived. I have to believe it. I have little memory of that day. What I do know has been pieced together by medical reports and accounts from my mother. The last thing I remember after the jump was immense pain. Throbbing and darkness and Carly’s screams. Ambulances were called and I was taken to a Greek hospital nearby. The news proclaimed me as “Miracle Girl”, although I don’t feel like a miracle. It feels like a curse. I was able to survive the accident, but I lost one of the most important things that a human can have. My words. After the accident and recovering from the extensive head trauma. I, Sophia Daley, can no longer verbally communicate . I can think and hear and listen but I can never respond again. Although I am learning to sign and use technology, I still feel as though the biggest piece of me has been taken away. The doctors tell me that there is no chance of me ever being able to speak again. I have severed the nerve endings and broken the cognitive ability to form words. So even though there is so much going on inside of me. The world will never hear my voice. Yes, I am a miracle. Yes, I am lucky to be alive. But I can’t help but wonder, is it worth being alive if you have lost the will to live?
So I take another step forward, out into the light of the day. Hoping that never again will I be afraid to speak my mind.






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