A long time ago, when I was eight years old and Mommy and Daddy were still married and we lived together in Florida, I had a rather unfortunate accident.
Let me preface this story by saying that I was not a clumsy child. I had two prior accidents to this one that ended in stitches, but one occurred when I was a baby, and the second was the result of my older sister shoving me into a dark bathroom as hard as she could which resulted in my sliced foot. But I did not have a history of accidents or clumsiness.
I suppose you could say it was an average Sunday evening, dark early because it was winter. But a Florida winter, which meant it was still warm enough not to need more than a light jacket. It was after dinner, because I was eating the whatchamacallit candy bar that I had gotten after getting off the bus from Sunday School.
Daddy was going to return the movies from weekend, and I asked to go with him. So, movies stacked in my arms in front of me (which, in retrospect, was a bad idea) and candy bar clutched in my right hand, we set off to return the movies. I couldn't see where I was going as we were going towards the car, yet I somehow managed to step off of the sidewalk without a problem.
This is when we get into the truth of the matter: my accident was all a good example of bad timing. Just as Daddy was opening the passenger door of his white mustang for me, I tripped over the stupid concrete thingy that keeps you from running over the sidewalk. Which should have just ended in me falling over and scraping my hands or something. However, my head collided with the open door and made a really good, loud thud. I hit the ground on my side. I heard the movies hit the pavement. I felt a little dazed as I sat up. I had dropped the movies, but my candy bar was still safe in my hand.
Daddy asked, "Chanel, are you okay?"
And as I stood up, dusted off my skirt, I said, "Yeah, yeah, I'm fine." My voice was a little breathy, and I sounded surprised and confused even to my own ears, but I wasn't in pain.
Then he looked at my head, just to make sure I was okay. And he reacted badly. "OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD!" He started freaking out, which was a really bad idea. Because the second I saw the horrified look on his face and he started screaming, I got scared.
"What? What's wrong?" And then I was screaming and crying, completely unaware of what was wrong with me, but knowing it must be really bad because my Daddy, who was never one to get excited, was frantically putting his shirt on my head and leading me back towards the house. In my terror, I dropped the candy bar which I had so lovingly protected during my fall.
Now, my screams are very...audible. And we later found out that everybody in our row of townhouses heard both of us freaking out. My older sister and her friend heard and, blithely unaware that I was quite sure I was dying, started laughing hysterically in the living room as Daddy dragged me in and Mommy came to see what was wrong.
Mommy's calmness calmed me a little bit. Until Daddy took his shirt away from my head, and then Mommy started screaming, "OH MY GOD! WHAT DID YOU DO TO OUR DAUGHTER!?!?!" And at that point I was quite certain I was dying or ugly, and I started screaming and crying all over again, which only freaked both of them out more, which in turn freaked me out more. It was a vicious cycle, but Mommy eventually got Sherrell and Felicia to stop laughing. I'm not sure how the Twins managed to sleep through all of the commotion, but they never woke up.
Eventually, Daddy got calm enough to drive me to the hospital. It felt like eternity, but I'm pretty sure it was only ten minutes. He sped the entire way there and then parked illegally because by the time we reached the ER I was shrieking, "I'M DYING! I DON'T WANT TO DIE!" We caused quite a scene as we entered the emergency room.
But for some reason, sitting in the waiting room calmed me down. I wasn't allowed to sleep or anything (head injuries are like that), so I just calmly sat down next to Daddy after a few minutes of crying in the waiting room. And then I realized that I no longer had my candy bar.
"Daddy, I dropped my candy bar," and this statement only made the fact that much worse. And I started crying again, not loudly, but sad little cries that clearly implied I was heartbroken at the loss of my chocolate.
"Don't worry, if you don't cry while the doctor fixes you, I'll buy you a hot fudge Sundae tomorrow." Now, there's no bribe quite like a hot fudge Sundae when you're eight years old, so I immediately decided that no matter how scary the doctor was, I wasn't going to cry when he put the band-aid on my head. I had, by this time, seen that there was blood on Daddy's t-shirt, and I made the connection it was mine. In my world, despite previous accidents, cuts were fixed by band-aids, and really big cuts were fixed with butterflies. (I had conveniently forgotten the stitches I'd gotten on my foot a few years earlier, probably because of my head injury.)
"Okay!" I chirped, happy that my mediocre chocolate bar would be replaced with something bigger and better!
I don't really remember my doctor clearly. I remember he was a really big, very dark man. I don't mean big like fat. I mean he was big like the actor that played John Coffey in the Green Mile. Actually, to the best of my memory, it was John Coffey in a white coat that stitched me up. I remember him giving me a shot. He called it "Numb Juice", but I didn't feel the needle. I was also way too freaked out about the idea of being sewn up like a teddy bear that I conveniently forgot that I'm terrified of needles. And then he was sewing me up, talking about how this would all be a funny story one day.
"I won't ever laugh at this," I sniffled, completely convinced that I must still be dying. (Clearly I was wrong because every time I remember this night I crack up.)
Soon enough I was ready to go home with a large bandage on my head covering the stitches (which I later discovered were purple!) and stern orders of, "Do NOT take off bandages yourself, and DO NOT touch your stitches, young lady," and a fruit roll-up as a parting gift.
I got my hot fudge sundae the very next day, and I also got to miss school because I was still a little dazed (probably the concussion) the next morning. My sister called me band-aid head until I got the stitches taken out, and to this day I have a scar on my forehead that nobody notices.