1. If you’re working for five days at your computer and you need to go outside and do something physical to clear your brain, a bike ride may not be the right choice.
2. Saying to your husband, “Hey…I’m just going once around the park. Back in ten minutes,” may turn out to be false.
3. When the creek is high and the footbridge is underwater, you can be very careful and ride your bike over it. It can be fun, like splashing through a big puddle. Yeehaw!
4. It is good not to get cocky when you go over the footbridge on the way back.
5. When the water flows across the bridge and the sun hits it just right, it’s hard to tell where the bridge ends and the water begins. You may try to correct the direction of your wheels. You may try to do this a bit too abruptly.
6. If you’re lucky, there will be a guy in his twenties, a strong guy in his twenties, walking on the path nearby.
7. If you’re extra lucky, the guy will come running to help you (after yelling "SHIIIIIIIITTTTTTTT!) when you wipe out on the bridge.
8. If he is gallant, he will ignore you when you say, “I’m fine. I’m just a dumb ass. Thanks, and I’m sorry you got your shoes wet,” as you pull your head from the creek and shake mud from your long seaweed-y hair. He will gingerly walk you and your bike up the muddy path. As you realize you are hurt in a big way, he’ll stay with you until your husband comes to help you. (You were smart enough to carry your phone.)
9. When your husband arrives, you may be in such pain that you have exited your mental capabilities. You will look at your husband and wonder what he is doing there, as you hear the guy in his twenties say, “Man, she went down HARD.”
10. It will not be possible for you to get into your husband’s truck. The pain is making you scream like a pterodactyl. Your right leg won’t move.
11. Your husband will call an ambulance. You will ask him to go to your friend’s house right there on the corner, to ask her for some ice. You are swelling. You are on your knees in the grass. You think you may have broken your hip. Not in the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” way, but in the “I’m a moron who drove her bike into a creek” way.
12. Your husband takes forever (three minutes) because the friend can’t find a bag to put the ice in.
13. You start to flag down a woman two backyards over because you are desperate for ice and help. You wave and wave. You are sobbing. Your mud-hair is flopping in your face. She waves back. You wave some more, less like “hello there” and more like “Lord Jesus, please let this airplane see me.” She waves back, smiling. You give up, hoping that one day you’ll be able to laugh about this ignorant woman waving and waving like a pageant girl on a parade float, but right now you want to stab her.
14. The pain is stabbing you.
15. Husband arrives. Friend arrives. Ice arrives. You cry. You can’t help it because you’re happy to see them and feeling pain like you’ve never felt in your life. Pain comes from an area code you aren’t familiar with. You and your ice-bag friend are both on your knees in the grass. Your husband is standing up. Scene looks like a king bestowing honor on two princesses, or a cult leader with two disciples, or a magician with two large rabbits. You realize you are thinking odd thoughts.
16. Ambulance. Fire truck.
17. Being uncurled and loaded onto a stretcher can be supremely bad.
18. If you are panicking and refuse an I.V., the EMTs might be kind enough to spray narcotics up your nose to calm you/save themselves from you.
19. X-rays, screaming, mud-hair, wet mud-clothes that you have just noticed. You are wearing a two-colored court jester suit. Left side mud, right side not-mud.
20. Hours. Valium. More narcotics. Things become funny. You begin to act out a dramatic dying scene, pretending to divulge that the treasure is buried under the…
21. Hunger. Six packets of saltines given to you by a nurse. Your husband says “I think I ate my entree crackers before my appetizer crackers.”
22. First encounter with a bedpan. Unsuccessful. “If you’d give me a bedpan bigger than a Chiclet, that would help.” Nurse not amused.
22. Nothing broken. You tell God thank you. Prescriptions written. But now these people want to stand you up and make you walk.
24. Big burly nurse comes in. Assures you she works with hip patients. She swings your body around and up into seated position in one sharp second. You scream for two sharp seconds.
25. Half-dozen steps. Agony. You think of the squirrel you hit on campus last month. You looked into the rearview mirror and saw it pulling itself off the road, back legs dragging behind it like stretched-out mud flaps.
26. Friends come to take you home. They loan you dry clothes. You limp to the car. You think of saying “The other guy looks worse,” but are too tired to speak.
27. Your husband helps you get into bed. You can see the pain on his face.
28. No sleep. Pain.
29. Five days later you can sit in a chair.
30. Your mother says to you, “It do stir ya’ up when you get to floppin’ around on the ground, don’t it?”
31. You say to your mother, “I AM going back to that bridge again, just to show it who’s boss.”
32. She says, “Well, let us know so we can be prepared. And take somebody with you. And a camera.”