My tale of surviving a ‘scrape’ when I was seven years old.
Each Monday, I will share a personal story, working from prompts from my local Storytelling group.
The write up… (2.0 after a new edit. have not updated audio yet)
In 46 years, I have never experienced more clarity than when I was seven years old. I’m talking the level of self-knowing that merges 10 millennia of soul experience.
It yields crystal clear understanding.
It is the kind of knowing that makes our soul speak, “I’ve been here before, and I can’t believe I made this mistake again.”
I found myself lying in a pile of construction rubble at the end of an unfinished street, bleeding to death.
That’s when the clarity showed up, followed by a sigh of self-disgust and a bit of pain.
Guilt, shame, doubt, fear weighed equally in my mind and all cast votes confirming my mistake…
It was all going so well.
I had started a hundred feet away. I recall my little brother of five years, observing off to the side. I had the end of the unfinished street lined up in front of me.
I heaved up and pushed the pedal over. The first rounding push for a seven year old on a new bike.
That’s ALWAYS the toughest.
This bike was fast. It was light. It was infinitely lighter than my former Evil Keneival bike. That old bike was loaded down with extra steel. It was heavy with plastic to decorate the bicycle. It had had extra larger tires making it look like the soaring god’s motorcycle too.
It was gone.
It was replaced with this new, brown, golden bike.
It had a new smell from the foam guard on the handle bars. It made me a little queasy, even today as I remember it. It was some chemical smell that got worse in the heat of the sun and never quite wore off the entire time I owned it.
It was probably a mix of petroleum, PCBs, maybe left over Agent Orange. It will probably haunt me in my hundred and twenties.
“By the way, have you heard that there are children being born right now that will likely live until their one hundred and forties?”
My right leg, my starting leg, reached the bottom of the arc with my left leg at the top and then my right leg was up completing the first revolution.
The second and third were notable rotations too, not for the minute force coming from my chicken leg-thighs. It was in fact impressive because there was measurable velocity, an increase in speed.
After that I lasered in on the target, losing track of the revolutions over and over. My confidence was up there; it was more ‘comfortable’ than ‘high’.
I was in the flow. I had done this now an almost uncountable number of times for a seven year old boy. Was it 1000? Was it 100? Was it 10? At least 5? Probably more like 3!
I was flying. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I was going faster than the other time or two.
The first run had been practice. It was an exploration of the imagination and of what was possible. Plus it was a little exploration of the geography, knocking aside loose rocks.
On the second run, I acquired a terminal velocity allowing my physical body to leave the earth. It lasted from a quarter to a half of a second.
Now, As my feet rolled in circles, I knew this was different. I had attained a level of speed entirely new. Sure I had experienced greater speeds managed and controlled by others. This was different.
I had created this speed. I was controlling this speed.
I was five feet away. I rolled up the gravel slope leaving the new blacktop behind. I could feel the perfect arc of the slope curving my wheels, my bike and myself. All one together, I moved up and up like a rocket ship on a railgun. I curved towards the heavens.
At the top of the slope, the mound rolled the other way, curving off the top and lending my ‘oneness’ with my bike to level out.
I was flying parallel with the stratosphere now.
This was not like my previous attempts.
This time, I did not roll up and over and down the slope on the far side.
This time, I did not briefly lift off, just missing the top and nestle down into the far slope bringing me to earth.
This time, I was free of such things.
I was flying three feet, five feet, past the length of the construction mound entirely.
I was flying seven feet, ten feet and over the loose construction gravel that had washed from the base of the mound.
My moment of clarity was not yet at hand though.
Yes I was free.
Yes I was flying, and Yes I was in control!
And then I wasn’t. I was no longer flying perfectly verticle. I was askew. I was sort of sideways, my bike was sideways with me. We were not ‘one’ anymore.
This was not right, not even close.
Afterall, wheels and nobby tires were needed to cushion my landing. They should grab terra firma and allow me to press upon my peddles in reverse. I would lock up Bendix brakes skidding yards & creating a Nike shaped swoosh in the dirt.
No, I was in trouble. I was all tangled up. I was in a panic. I was going down. I remember flashing images of parts of the bike, of round creek rocks, dust and pea gravel covering blacktop.
There’s no satisfaction landing on round rocks shaped like marbles.
Even worse, some of these marbles were jagged and hot. It was summer or June, or maybe May in the midwest.
I’ll never know what it was BUT something got me. Something was working hard to end me.
I was floundering, bouncing, sliding, and trying to right this new world of chaos. I settled.
Then, I was up. And I was hobbling. And I was scared. And I was crying. And I didn’t know what was wrong. And my systems were not all back online. And I didn’t even know what a ‘system’ was!
That’s when I saw it and I went down again. It looked like it was squirting, gushing, maybe more oozing out of my ankle.
My foot was severed!
Well, not quite severed, but almost cut off, or deep enough to see into the bone, or see pale, bloodless scraped skin that shielded the bone below it. Plus I had cuts and gravel in cuts on my ankle, knees and hands.
The scrape on the ankle was the worst, even if the foot WAS still attached. It was bad.
My hands hurt with scrapes on the palms as well. My brother came running towards me, scared maybe as much as I was.
Because with this much blood, the reality of my situation was just settling into my brain. I was bleeding to death.
This much blood would mean trouble. Trouble of the kind measured in stitches? spankings? groundings? loss of new bicycles? loss of territory and my ability to roam outside of my back yard? worse yet, a ‘scolding’.
I was in that moment where you remember every stupid mistake your soul has ever made. Then add to that every stupid mistake your soul will ever make.
I knew each one in the ‘now’ like a Zen Master.
I felt with all of my being several things at once.
- ● I had gotten myself into this scrape taking things past a dangerous limit.
- ● I had gotten myself this avoidable injury.
● I would get more pain from stitches or scoldings or the dreaded ‘monkey’s blood aka Mecuricome’. It would soon coat my wounds to protect them from infection, and it would burn.
I crawled over to my new bike. It had a new small tear in the back of the vinyl seat cover.
I inched up and hobbled my bike for a couple hundred feet towards home. The bike’s sweet sickly chemical smell mixed with my fear and blood and dried up tears.
If I was going to lose my bike, might as well ride it out of the scene one last time. So I hopped on heading for home.
I was working up a new batch of tears. These were the tears of fear. They are the defensive weapon of choice for all children. Kids do not truly understand what these tears of fear will illicit in the adult essence of a human they call Mom or Dad.
They come unbidden to any child caught in a stupid act facing the future wrath of worried parents.
I arrived home with my little brother blazing a faster path, cutting in front of me as we rolled into the driveway.
He was riding a bike matching my own. They were a pair. His bike would be easy to identify in the future with its unmarred seat lowered a couple inches below my own.
He jumped off his bike, dropping it to the ground and breaking a rule, yelling, “Brett’s hurt, Brett’s bleeding.”
Now, I owe him for that.
I didn’t even realize this debt was still outstanding until I set out to capture these words.
I remembered all the details and his actions. But I did not note the debt at the time.
My moment of clarity had passed by then. I mentally rolled into the void of unknown fear. It was fear of stitches, of monkey’s blood, and of recriminations. A harsh look being terrible and verbal lashings being the worst possible scenario.
My brother’s words served to be the alchemy that pulled it all together though. He was the hero of that day.
My tears were flowing but his affirmation, that blood flowed too, prompted audible sobs in me.
Now, Sobs plus blood
plus the magical words that someone is bleeding,
This magical combination grants a temporary safe harbor.
Screen doors flew open and I do not recall who, my Dad, probably my Mom, came running through the door.
Then I was in the small new bathroom of our new house. The sink was running and the death sentence was finally pronounced.
It was the type of sentence that brings relief but it doesn’t matter anyway as the result is just as fatal…
“You won’t need stitches, so lets put some monkey’s blood on it and then get you a bandaid.”
Oh, ironic fate, everyone knew that monkey’s blood burned!
Later, yes, the recriminations came. I paid for my crimes against my body. I paid for being thoughtless and stupid.
I might have been grounded from returning to the mounds of construction gravel for a week or two.
Fast forwarding through my life…
I relived this experience many times, first as a kid and then as a teenager and you guessed it, even as an adult.
Each scenario was slightly different. The tears and the escape home generally didn’t happen. No one willingly chases after monkey’s blood after all.
As an adult, I bested my 10-12 foot flight into a new record that spanned an entire intersection.
I almost lost my foot for real that time, but that’s another tale.
In every scenario, I became one with my past and present. Each time the familiar clarity of having gotten myself into a stupid scrape welcomed me with a hug.