It was one of those spring days that stories are often written about. Bright, warm, and inviting, my friends and I were engaged in a game of wiffleball on the busy city street. It was the year of my third grade. We were all at ages where crossing the road wasn’t an option yet, so we chose to play our modified rules game right there on the sidewalk. Looking back on that day now, I don’t know how we even managed to play at all. The tightly boxed in vehicles didn’t give us much leeway as far as our swings, and I’m sure the neighbors were none too pleased about the possibility of that little, white plastic ball ricocheting off their shiny cars. But, we played on.
As anyone could have predicted, the ball soon rolled into the street. Now, when I say it was a busy city street, I’m not talking about a booming metropolis. My friends and I happened to live in a small city, if it could even be called that, and the street happened to be the main drag in town. It was even called ‘Main Street.’ Nevertheless, it was a fairly busy road. One needed to be careful. Volunteering to fetch the ball, I looked both ways, and not seeing any cars coming I darted out between two parked cars in search of the elusive wiffleball. I don’t remember the sound of tires screeching, but I’m sure it happened.
I was lying on the sidewalk, and I could hear my friend’s mother calling the police, and then I could hear my father being beckoned; I only lived about 6 houses down from where I was struck by the car. Time was fluid, because the next thing I know I’m being lifted into an ambulance on a stretcher. I politely asked the medic not to run over any railroad tracks, because I knew it would hurt. The man smiled at me and promised they would be extra careful. He kept his word.
At the hospital, my mother was by my side. My father must have called her (they were divorced, and their relationship was far from amicable) and I can only imagine the abuse he suffered from her acid tongue. She was talking to me sweetly, trying to divert my attention from what the doctors were doing to my right leg. When they were done, I was allowed to look over. There was what looked like a giant mechanical screw imbedded in my leg, surrounded by brownish residue, and my leg was suspended in what now I believe was traction. I was in awe. How did I not feel it? This was awesome! Of course, that euphoria would be short-lived as the shock wore off and pain moved in to take its place.
The end result was two broken legs, one worse than the other. My right leg wound up growing a bit shorter than the left, which gives me trouble to this day. The woman who hit me was found liable, but I really can’t hold any resentment towards her. I should have known better, and even though I remember looking both ways, I obviously did not. Memory is like Play-Doh; you can shape it any way you want to over time. One thing is clear, however: I will never forget that day.