My seventh birthday was the most memorable so far. That year my birthday fell on a Sunday, a hot Sunday. I remember we went to Grandma and Grandpa’s for lunch, and then there was a birthday party at our apartment. But that was not it, that was not it at all.
After lunch my cousins invited me to play tag with them. I knew it wasn’t a good idea, since I was always too slow and never won any running game. I was the child who never wanted to climb a tree because she was too afraid of falling or getting hurt. I’d do it, but only the low branches. I was always so afraid of hurting myself I’d never dare running any faster or jumping any higher or anything like that. But that day was different. I was seven. I was a whole year more confident and fearless than my old self. (Gosh, I can’t even type that without laughing.)
So I said yes. I was resolved to win. And so I ran. As fast as I could. As fast as my legs would take me. I could see the back of my cousins head, bobbing right in front of me. I just needed to run a bit faster, to force my legs not to feel the pain, to push myself just a bit more. I could feel the sweat on my forehead, the icky, disgusting sweat, but I couldn’t let that slow me down. They were so close. And then they turned.
You don’t know the place, so allow me to explain. We were running on a hallway connecting buildings. At the end of it was a glass door leading outside the building, and to the left of the door, stairs leading to the garage. And that’s the path they had chosen to take, down to the garage. Now, why did that come as a surprise to me, I have no idea. I knew that building like the palm of my hand. If anything, that just shows I wouldn’t recognize my own hands if they were attached to my own arms. And yes, I know how ridiculous that sound.
But regardless of the circumstances, there I was, running too fast to turn on my own, risking falling down the stairs if I didn’t slow down, but not wanting to lose the game yet again. So I did the only logical thing: I used the door to push myself towards the stairs, hoping for all that was sacred I wouldn’t hurt my knees too bad.
Next thing I know I’m on all fours. I get up fast, not entirely sure of my surroundings. They don’t look right. I’m not in the garage. I’m outside. How did I get there? How did I pass through the door? The door was locked. It was always locked. Right?
I turned my head towards the door. There was no door. There was only the trim that used to hold the door in place. Something caused my left eyelid to close. I touched it. It was thick and red. Something on the floor caught my eyes. Shattered shiny pieces all around my feet. A line of the red liquid was running from my right knee to my foot. Little crisscrossed red lines marked my legs.
A scream reached my ears. My own scream.
As I said, a birthday to remember. And that was just the beginning. Then there was the going to a hospital to get stitches for the first time thing. Followed by having to go to my own birthday party with a blood-splattered dress and black lines sprouting from my face and leg. Add that to the fact that my aunt broke the key in the door and everyone had to stay outside, because it was Sunday and it took us forever to get a locksmith. Oh, and did I mention it was hot? Yep, definitely a birthday I won’t forget.