Friday, September 5, 2014

Chapter 31



"Kay-Lee?"

"Coming!" I answered Sawyer.  I was wondering what had kept him away all morning instead of watching how tight I was holding onto the rail.  I was half way up the basement stairs when my brace hung up on a riser.

Normally it was no big deal.  Normally I was holding on tightly to the hand rail.  Normally I wouldn't have panicked.  Normally when I did stop falling I wouldn't have thrown a hissy fit.  Unfortunately normal went out the window.

"Kay-Lee!!"

Sawyer clattered down the stairs faster than I would ever be able to move, even stumbled and caught himself, then finished by neatly jumping down beside me all of which only made me more upset.

"I'm fine!" I snarled.

"You fell down the stairs!"

"No kidding," I snapped.  "Just move and let me get up."

"Get up?!  Just ... just wait.  I need to see if you're hurt."

"The only thing hurt is my pride ... again ... like I need more reminders of just how stupid and clunky I am.  Now move!"  I tried to get up but then a shooting pain in my ankle took my breath away and I stiffened up.  "No ... no, no, no.  I don't have time for this."

"You've got whatever time I say you have.  Now be still.  Wait.  Hang on a sec."

He ran back up the stairs and off to I didn't know where.  All I cared about was it gave me time to get up and prove to him - and myself - that a fool I might be but one that could move under their own power.

I heard feet and then from top of the stairs, "Kay-Lee!  Oh my goodness!"  I heard her tell Sawyer something and him start to get upset but then she told him to move and I heard him running up the back stairs.

"Linda?!  What are you doing here?" I asked her when she got to the bottom.

"Trying to save you from getting smothered to death 'cause I know you hate it.  I sent Sawyer to get one of those blue pills you take when your joints hurt.  Wow, look at you.  What happened?" she asked as she helped me stand up.

"My brace caught a riser and I wasn't paying enough attention so couldn't stop myself once I started to lose my balance.  Geez I am such an idiot."

"Don't call yourself names.  You never let Tommy and me do that when we'd flub a test or anything like that."

"Totally different."

"No it isn't."

Then there was as squawk and Sawyer flew at me and I almost fell again only I wound up being picked up and carried up the stairs.  "What are you doing putting weight on that foot before I've had a chance to look at it?!  Did you hit your head?  God, I need to take you to the emergency room you could have a concussion.  Hang on let me get my keys."

"Sawyer ..."

"How many fingers am I holding up?  Do you hurt ..."

Sawyer!"

"I'll fix this Kay-Lee, just let me ..."

"Sawyer!!"

"What?"

"Put me down in the kitchen chair.  Then get a glass of water so I can take this stupid pill.  Then get a wash cloth, wet it, and wipe your face.  You act like your head is on fire."

He stopped in the middle of wetting a kitchen rag, looked at it then looked at me.  "That's not funny Kay-Lee."

"I didn't mean it to be.  You're making a fuss over nothing.  I may be an idiot but I'm not a crybaby."

From behind me Linda asked, "Now who's head is on fire.  If you get any madder Kay-Lee you're going to burn down the house.  Instead of Sawyer wiping his face maybe you should stick your head in a bucket."

I was ready to tune up and blow back on her like no one's business but then I realized this was Linda, one of the few friends I had in the world, the one that was honest to a fault and was never mean on purpose.  I groaned.  "Fine. Point me in the direction of the bucket and I'll do just that."

Linda laughed but Sawyer not so much.  "Stop it Linda.  Kay-Lee is hurting."

"Kay-Lee hates to fall Sawyer.  She really, really hates it.  It isn't the hurt, it's the fall."

Sawyer wasn't listening to her and he came over and put his arm around me where I had my head on my arm on the table.  "Kay-Lee?  Seriously, let me look at your ankle.  I know it hurts.  I heard you."

I sighed.  "Why do you guys have to be so nice?  Can't you just let me be a dumb clutz once in a while?"

"OK, that's enough.  I guess I get why you don't like falling.  It embarrasses you in a way that makes you feel insecure.  But you didn't fall on purpose and it's just me and Linda, not a room full of people.  And we aren't laughing.  C'mon Kay-Lee ..."

I didn't bother looking as he turned me in the chair.  I knew exactly what it was going to look like.  It was my weak foot and while I didn't have all the feeling in it I had enough I knew the foot was swelling and bruising.  After years of operations and physical therapy I had learned to manage pain and to not let people see it but somehow they both knew.  Linda I could understand because she'd been my friend forever.  I was having a hard time computing why Sawyer would have been able to tell.

He said, "Kay-Lee this might be broken."

"It's not broken."

"You don't know that."

"I do.  I've got more metal in that foot and ankle than I do bone.  Pins, plates, rods, screws ... all titanium.  They tried to get me to laugh about it by calling me the bionic girl.  Ha ha ha.  If the job they did on me was so great I wouldn't have to live in that stupid brace.  If I ..."  I hissed involuntarily when my leg started to draw.  "Move!"

"Kay-Lee ..."

"Move!"

Linda said, "Move Sawyer.  Her tendons are drawing up ... kinda like a charlie horse.  She needs to stand up and stretch them."

I used the table to keep my balance.  I was having to choose between the pain of the badly sprained ankle and foot and the pain of the nuclear powered charlie horse.  Stopping the charlie horse won hands down.

"What do I do?  She's hurting."

"Nothing you can do Sawyer.  Kay-Lee sometimes hurts.  It's a lot better than it used to be.  She used to hurt every day, sometimes all day long.  When they were straightening her back and making her leg grow longer it was the worst.  She told me once it was like ..."

"Linda!"

"He needs to know that you’re strong Kay-Lee.  When he understands how strong he won't worry so much.  You're not like his momma.  You're not going to go away from a bee sting or a fall ..."

This time it was Sawyer who yelped, "Linda!"

"Well, someone needs to explain it to you two because you sure aren't explaining it to each other."

Linda's logic was breathtaking in its simplicity.  She was right but it was really hard to admit it.  But one look at Sawyer's face and I knew that I'd have to be the one to reach out first.  Still holding onto the table with one hand I inched my other one over to lay on the top of his and said, "Sawyer, could you help me to sit back down and get my foot propped up?  Then in my pack there is this telescoping crutch; I ... I ... need it."

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