Taking a break from some of my regular posts to do this online writing course by The University of Iowa! It’s mega comprehensive after Writing 101! Wish me luck! 🙂
Write a scene or short story in which the main character is a female child:
I Didn’t Want Surgery
My right leg always hurt. That constant throbbing from the knee downwards, as cold metal rods embraced my flesh.
Gareth didn’t have the brace (my first word, as I got to know later on) but he was my big brother, he’d always been stronger than me. His legs worked fine.
Daddy said I was special and Dr. Benson agreed. He’d give me an extra lollipop, the ones that would colour your entire mouth. I’d choose the yellow one and take the red one for Gareth. He’d pretend to be a vampire and scare Mummy. She was easier to frighten than Daddy. I know, because I’d seen her cry at night. Once, I’d come in the kitchen for a glass of water and she was sitting with a calculator and some books, sobbing. I thought she was hurt but she said that she just really missed Daddy when he worked late, that’s why she was sad.
I too felt sad sometimes. Usually at school when my friends played during snack time. They’d play with me but I couldn’t run as fast as them, so they’d ask me to sit and keep score. I didn’t mind but occasionally I’d wish that I could sprint like them, climb the monkey bars and rush out excitedly when the final bell rang.
Melissa would walk with me as I hobbled along as fast as I could, but sometimes she too would run ahead.
A new girl came to class today. She answered all the questions and Ms. Perkins said that she was very happy to have such an intelligent student in class.
When Sasha saw me, she pointed at my leg.
“Why do you have to wear that?”
“It helps me wa…”
“It looks silly!”
Sasha started laughing loudly. Some of the other students joined in, even Melissa.
I didn’t much feel like going to school after that.
“What if we get another mortgage?”
“I told you, we can’t!” Daddy raised his voice.
I was sitting quietly in the backseat. Mummy and Daddy were fighting again.
“Mark, this has to do with our daughter….”
“You don’t think I know that? You think I want her to end up in a chair or worse?!”
“I never said that! Stop twisting my words around!” Mummy was nearly as loud as Daddy.
I looked out of the window.
“Cars, people, shops, man on a bicycle, trees, sky, birds.”
I started saying the names of all the things I could see along the way. Now I didn’t have to hear them shouting. Well, at least I tried not to hear them.
Finally, there was silence, but I didn’t like it. Daddy was driving very fast and I could hear him breathing very hard. He’d do that after shouting at Gareth as well. Mummy kept rubbing her eyes.
I rushed into Dr. Benson’s waiting room as soon as we reached the clinic. Mrs. Randall was on the phone but she still gave me a hug when I went up to her. I liked Mrs. Randall, she reminded me of Grandma.
Mummy and Daddy sat down together on the sofa but were still not talking.
“Now then young lady, have you been eating all the lollipops I’ve been giving you?”
I giggled at Dr. Benson’s question. Mummy and Daddy were still quiet.
“Go outside and wait for us, we need to talk to Dr. Benson,” Daddy spoke abruptly and motioned me toward the door.
“Go on then,” Dr. Benson smiled.
Daddy was still looking angry. I wondered if he would shout at Dr. Benson too.
It was my birthday next week and Mummy said that she’d bake me a cake. I wanted the Frozen one which I’d seen in the bakery but Mummy said no.
“But it’s the one I want!” I insisted.
“It’s too expensive!” Daddy snapped from the couch.
I got teary-eyed and Mummy glared at Daddy who kept reading the newspaper.
They were fighting again that night.
“You didn’t have to be so harsh with her!”
“I wasn’t being harsh, I was just….”
“You can’t just be like that all the time! You’re not the only one who’s worried!”
“I’m doing this for her! So she can have that damn surgery before it’s too late!”
“Then do it without turning this entire house into one big hellhole!”
I wondered if Gareth heard what they said. Would he be mad at me too? Daddy was mad, he was always mad these days. Mummy was still nice but not when she yelled at Daddy.
I got up quietly from bed. Today, Sasha had told us a story in the playground. It was about her trip to Paris and how her little brother ran away when they were at Disneyland (she was the one who found him).
I put the teddy Grandma had sent for Christmas in my backpack and crept downstairs. There would be no Sasha to find me, and then Mummy and Daddy would stop fighting about my surgery because I wouldn’t be there!
I heard a loud crash from upstairs and got frightened. I raced back up and jumped into bed, head underneath the blanket. I felt my body trembling.
“It’s alright Teddy, we’ll run away tomorrow.” My soft voice was also trembling.
Tomorrow came and I saw Daddy with a bandage on his hand. Gareth whispered that the bathroom mirror in Mummy’s room was broken.
I tried to run away again that night. This time I managed to unlock the door and walk outside. It was dark, very, very dark. There was a crackle and the lamppost flickered on, bathing me in yellow light and just as I blinked, it went off again.
“It’s alright Teddy, we just need to run away now.”
This time I got as far as the neighbour’s house, before I was back underneath my blanket, shivering, but more due to the cold, rather than being scared. Though the yowling black cat had really startled me.
This went on for four more days, and each time I was back in my warm bed, feeling less scared than before. In fact, I had become quite an expert at sneaking down the stairs and confidently taking those first few steps out of the house.
“I saw you go out last night,” Gareth was trying to do a headstand in the garden.
I felt myself turning red.
“D-did you tell Mummy?”
Gareth shook his head and walked over to the swing.
“But why did you go out?”
I was quiet at first, then told him everything.
He stared at me.
“Wow! You’re brave!”
“I’d never go out in the dark, all alone. Not even with my action figures.”
He continued doing headstands.
“You can’t play with us!” Sasha always spoke loudly, intimidatingly, so that neither of us would feel like answering back.
“B-but I can keep score, like I always do.”
“I told you, you can’t and you have to listen to me!”
She suddenly clapped her hands smartly.
I jumped, as did my friends. And then she said this:
“Haha! It’s so easy to scare you all!”
Scared? Me? I’ve walked out of my house at night, in the dark. Gareth thought I was more brave than him!
“I’m not scared! I’ve walked out late at night all by myself! I’ve even seen a witch’s cat!”
There was a sudden silence as all eyes turned to me.
Sasha turned red.
“You’re a liar! You’ve not done any of that!”
“Yes I have!” I hobbled up to her and put my arms on my waist. “So that makes me braver than you!”
Sasha was about to speak when I yowled, just like that black cat I had seen. It was more of a weird scream but it was startlingly loud.
Not only Sasha, but all my friends got quite a fright.
Sasha didn’t order me around after that day.
“I don’t want the surgery.”
We were in the car and had just reached the clinic. Both Mummy and Daddy turned around to face me.
“Don’t worry dear, it won’t hurt so much, Dr. Benson said….”
“I said I don’t want it!” I tried speaking as loudly as Sasha.
There was silence and then Mummy spoke softly.
“What’s wrong sweetheart?”
I didn’t feel like Sasha any more. I felt like crying.
Mummy and Daddy were in the backseat next to me, Mummy holding me close.
I couldn’t tell them why, that I wanted them to stop fighting. That not having surgery would make them happy again. They just thought I was scared and tried to make me feel better.
The fighting continued and then Daddy said he had to sell the house. We shifted to a small apartment. Then Daddy started staying home like Mummy. Gareth said he didn’t have a job any more. More fighting, more shouting.
At Dr. Benson’s clinic, I heard Daddy tell him that we couldn’t afford to have the surgery right now. I was happy. Now maybe they would stop fighting. But they didn’t.