Mandy tried to stomp her foot, but her rubber boot was so full of water that the only sound she heard was a big gurgle. Yesterday’s big snow was melting quickly, and there were puddles everywhere. Huge puddles. Now her feet were freezing, her boots and pant legs soaked. It was too late to turn around and run home.
Mandy was angry, really angry. ”How could he do that to me? Just wait till I get even, then he’ll know better than mess with me!”
Mandy was caught in that ‘middle’ age group – 14. She had started out for school that morning, all excited about seeing Jack at morning assembly. She was sure Jack had a crush on her, but then she had seen him flirting with Susie at the other end of the block. She had to be at assembly today or else her chances of sitting with Jack were zero.
She sloshed along the sidewalk totally engrossed in her anger, unaware that a much bigger problem was threatening on the horizon. At the school, she pushed the heavy wooden door open and saw Jack again, this time only a few steps from her.
“Hey Jack. Wait for me!” Mandy was almost running to him when her fancy rubber boot slipped on the shiny floor and down she went. Books, jacket, and iPad slithered away from her.
“Ow…ow.. Oh no!!
She tried to move her right leg but for some reason it wouldn’t cooperate. She tried harder to focus on moving her leg, but it just lay there like a lifeless log. By then other students were gathering around her and her friend Rose was kneeling beside her, trying to comfort her.
“Where is it hurting, Mandy?” Rose was really becoming concerned. She saw that Mandy was very pale and tears were streaming down her face.
“Someone call 911, quick!”
Mandy tried to move her other leg – nothing. Somehow she couldn’t even feel her legs. What was wrong? She hadn’t ever had a feeling like this.
Before she knew it a teacher was hovering over her, telling the other students to move back. Mandy saw Jack out of the corner of her eye and saw a look of deep concern on his face. For a fleeting moment she was reassured that he really did care for her. Her thoughts were interrupted by an EMS person asking her endless questions.
“Move your toes. Where does it hurt the most? Are you allergic to anything? Are you on any meds.? Just let us help you. Careful. We’ll lift you onto the stretcher. “
Another EMS person instructed the teacher to call Mandy’s family immediately while they carried her out of the school. By now, Mandy was shivering, her teeth chattering, and her whole body felt like a piece of ice.
When they arrived at the hospital ER, she was surrounded by so many medical people she thought she would suffocate. More questions were fired at her, but most of them went unanswered, as she began to fade into oblivion.
She drifted in and out of consciousness over the next hours, aware that her Mom and Dad were standing watch near the stretcher. She was beginning to understand that something was terribly wrong when she saw their grave expressions, even though they tried to put on a smile. In the middle of it all she thought about Jack, but her attention was diverted to a man talking in a low voice to her parents. What was he saying? Why don’t they tell me what’s going on? After all, it’s my body!”
“Mom! Dad! Don’t leave me! What’s happening?” Mandy was getting more panicky by the minute. She tried to wiggle her toes while she looked at the sheet covering them. There was no movement.
Her Mom stepped to the bedside and tried to comfort her by saying “It’s OK. Everything is going to be OK.”
“Don’t lie to me, Mom! Tell me what’s going on! How come I can’t move my legs?”
The doctor and her Dad came to the other side of the bed and the doctor began to speak.
“Mandy, we’ve done some X-rays and tests but we need to do more. We aren’t sure what has happened to you. We’re trying to find out as quickly as possible. You will be having an MRI in a few minutes, then we will have a better idea of how to help you. Please try and rest.”
“I don’t want to rest! I want some answers, now!” The anger Mandy had felt an eon ago rose up again and helped her gain control over the situation. But her emotions quickly subsided as she felt the effects of the needle the nurse had given her.
A few hours later, Mandy awoke to see Jack standing by her bedside. Her parents were gone.
“Hi, Mandy, are you OK?” He looked like he was really concerned. Her eyes met his and any anger or hard feelings she had felt were gone. He took her hand and caressed it softly. A thrill ran up her arm into the pit of her stomach.
“Yeah, I’m OK. Thanks for coming.”
“Are you sure? I was looking forward to seeing you in assembly this morning and maybe meet you for lunch. Then this had to happen.” Jack fidgeted from one foot to the other. He looked kind of nervous but at the same time his hand gripped hers harder. Then without warning, he leaned over and kissed her lips.
“Sorry. Gotta get back to class. See ya.” And he was gone.
The feeling of his lips on hers lingered long after he disappeared and Mandy wondered if she had been dreaming. Maybe the sedatives were making her hallucinate, yet, the slight musty smell of his leather jacket lingered. Jack cared for her and that was all that mattered. She let out a contented sigh and went back to sleep.