As I exited the building with two coworkers last Tuesday, I fell.
I was upright, then the world tilted, then I landed knee-first on the stone pathway.
“Are you okay?” asked Lisa.
“I think my ankle gave out,” I responded in a daze.
Chris was several paces ahead, but turned back to see if I needed help. Tina went back inside to grab towels for my scrapes while Gretchen, who had been trailing behind us, held the door open for her. Still another employee, whose office is near the door, came out.
“What happened?” she asked. “I heard something.”
“A big thunk?” I inquired.
I rolled to my backside. Pain was shooting from my ankle down to the toes of my right foot. I modestly shifted my skirt so I could examine the damage to my left knee as I continued to sit on the walkway.
“I really wish I had shaved my legs,” I confessed.
For the life of me, I have no memory of what caused the tumble. I’ve had my share of graceless moments when I’ve tripped over uneven sidewalks or my own feet. Yet, I just couldn’t understand how I ended up on the ground this time. Did I miss that last step? Did my foot catch in that crack? Do I have foot cancer? The confusion, more than the pain, more than embarrassment, was why I was fighting back tears.
Tina returned with a handful of wet tissues. I gently dabbed my raw, throbbing knee, only mildly comforted by the fact there was no obvious debris in the wound. The pain in my right foot settled from sharp to dull. I sent a few onlookers on their way, and gratefully took an offered hand so that I could stand up.
No longer trusting my own foot, I cautiously made my way down the steps toward the parking lot. As I hobbled to my car, a coworker asked, “Are you okay to drive?”
“Yes,” I assured her despite my doubts to the contrary. In the solitude of my car, my lip trembled.
Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry, I silently chanted before phoning Peter.
“I’m in my car getting ready to leave,” I told him, just like I do every evening.
“Okay, see you soon. Love you,” he replied.
“Peter,” I caught him before he could hang up. “Can you get some Band-Aids ready? I scraped my knee.”
“Are you okay?”
My tears were quickly replaced by profanity. When I bent my knee to get out of the car: “f***, f***, f***!”When the dog brushed against me: “F**K!!!” Most painful of all was the discovery that the claim on the box that the sterile pad would be “ideal for cushioning and protecting without sticking to wounds” was a lie. A single F-bomb just wouldn’t do when, even after soaking the pad in warm salt water, I had to slowly peel the pad off of my scrape: “F***, f***, f***ity, F***!”