Scars

I shivered at a bus stop. For the last few hours I’d been shaky. I got on a bus, sat down, and went from cold to roasting within seconds. I stared out the window, trying not to think about the nausea working through me, hoping I could make it home. I couldn’t.

I knew one thing: I needed off this bus. While it sat idling at traffic lights I rushed to the front and asked the driver to let me off. Given how grumpy those drivers are, I’m surprised he agreed. Presumably he saw how ill I looked and would rather I was on the pavement.

I heard the hiss of the doors opening. Everything went grey, and then I was watching dolphins swim.

The water was a deep and shimmering blue. Two dolphins swam in a tight circle, practically nose to tail. Then something started to distract me, noises breaking through, voices ruining the ambience.

I awoke, and the first think I noticed was how sweaty I was. Drops of sweat ran from my armpits down to my hips. My vision was still grey. As I looked up, I realised what this grey was: pavement. I was on the ground.

I looked up to see a circle of people around me. Most were old women. I heard two of them phoning for ambulances (why they both felt the need to call, I don’t know). I stared at them, wondering who needed an ambulance (and maybe why they needed two).

I stretched forward and felt pain in my knees. Turning back, I realised my legs were stretched over the kerb, half of me was on the road. Then I saw the bus, the driver still in his cab staring at me.

I looked down at my brown jumper. Patches of it were darker than others. I had no idea why. Then I noticed stains on my jeans. Blood.

I moved to drag my legs onto the pavement, and a crimson stream shot out of the side of my nose. Right, so that’s where the blood came from then. A woman gave me a tissue to stem the tide, and that’s when I realised who the ambulance was for. The crowd filled me in: the bus driver had kindly opened the doors to let me off. I’d tumbled right through the gap, falling to the ground and smashing my nose off the kerb. If I’d fainted a few seconds earlier I would’ve bounced off the still-shut doors. A few seconds later and I would’ve already been on the pavement, making my fall from grace much shorter.

The ambulance arrived. Without giving thanks to any of my helpers, I was escorted on board. There I nearly passed out again before arriving at the hospital.

I waited a few hours for an x-ray to see if my nose was broken or if I’d taken any hard knocks to the head. The nurses were surprisingly resistant to my request to make a phone call. Given that I wasn’t supposed to use my mobile, did they not think my family might worry about where I was? I got x-rayed. My mum arrived. She rushed in and her face turned pale. I realised I hadn’t seen my own face since the incident. Judging by her expression, my face was a face worth seeing. A nurse gave me some cotton wool and paper towel so I could clean myself up (I thought that would be their job). I entered the toilet and flicked the light. I looked like Tom Cruise in Vanilla Sky. And what was my first thought? Dammit, I don’t have my camera.

The x-ray came back negative. I took pride in knowing that my nose survived an elevated fall onto a kerb without breaking.

The next morning I woke up and inspected my bruises, the cuts on my cheeks and in my mouth. Then I reached for the camera. Over the next few says I documented my steadily-changing face with morbid enthusiasm.

Those photos are gone now, but I still have one reminder of that day: a small scar along the side of my nose. That scar serves as a reminder of many things: that falling off a bus isn’t good for your looks, that fainting into a bus is preferable to out. But ultimately it’s a reminder that my nose is a hard bastard.

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