It’s a story my family constantly tells, my first scar. At the mere age of two, I wasn’t old enough to remember the event. It’s only their narrative now, this truth that I have come to know.
Was it exaggerated? Was the tale altered or redefined as it was told throughout the years? Passed through the generations, the oral traditions fall to me. A plotline fulfilled with me as the main character.
It was September 16th, 2000. The day of my dad’s thirty-sixth birthday and exactly one week after my second birthday.
My family and I attended a carnival at The American Legion Fairgrounds. The rides were bright, colorful, and shining in all their glory. Such large attractions are difficult to resist to those of any age, but to a two-year-old, they seemed to encompass the whole earth in their grandeur. Ferris wheels revolved on an endless loop, rollercoasters touched the limitless sky, and the funnel cakes were manna sent from the heavens.
We took a ride on the ginormous pink slide, my dad and I. The two birthday kids out on an adventure. Little did we know that not all journeys reach a wondrous destination.
A little girl smiling as she sits on her dad’s lap in a burlap sack, screaming with a quiet fear, the velocity as she goes increasing more rapidly than she’s ever known-- that girl knows nothing but happiness.
A twelve-year-old boy running around a fair without a care in the world, free reign from his parents, the wind in his hair and the world dancing around him-- that boy sees nothing but joy.
These two kids are ecstatic in themselves. The world is theirs to wander.
Until they collide.
That young boy wasn’t paying attention to what he was doing or where he was going. He stopped directly in front of the slide my dad and I were on. I imagine now the panic in Dad’s eyes as he did his best to slip his legs over mine, to save me from harm. He couldn’t.
The screams are what they remember most; they’re what I’m glad I’ve forgotten.
My family and I went to the hospital, and the hours of terror began. It seems less like a memory and more like a nightmare with each retelling. Were they truly in that waiting room for hours as I writhed in anguish? Did they truly sit there fruitlessly desiring to stifle my pain because a child shouldn’t know hurt like that at so young? Or did my screams alter their reality so that they couldn’t tell the difference between twenty minutes and an eternity?
We finally made it out of the waiting room and to the examination. X-rays were taken. My leg was fractured in two places in a ring that went in an almost perfect circle. The cast I got was purple. It was my favorite color.
They say I screamed for three days straight, but not much else is expected from a two-year-old who’s hurting. It was the first time I had experienced suffering, the first time I could remember nothing but how it felt to ache. My first scar is my greatest scar, but it’s something even less than a memory.
We’re told we’re supposed to learn from our scars, grow from them, heal from them and be healed by them. My family tells me that my scar has faded, and I have grown. They recall that it was September 16th, 2000, but I wouldn’t know. I am told I wore a purple cast, but I can’t be sure. The stories goes that it was the pinnacle of pain, but it could all be a lie. The history books proclaim that I broke that day, but even facts can be twisted. Maybe I never fell at all. Maybe such a pain never embraced me. Maybe I’m invincible.