| Out of Step |

Out of Step: Chapter 15

“So, am I dying?” I ask the doctor after I’m lying safely on a bed

I don’t speak as we speed off to the emergency room. Besides being nauseous from pain, opening my mouth, the sound of my own voice… it would somehow make this all real. And this can’t be real.

Mommy looks at me sideways, her knuckles white on the steering wheel. “How you doing, zeeskeit?” she asks softly.

I clench my teeth and nod. The pity in her voice makes me want to scream, and suddenly tears are leaking down my face. Mommy rubs my arm, I gaze out the window with deadened eyes, Shayna’s face and the fear etched all over it keeps floating past the glass. My leg feels like someone has lit a small fire on it, and I keep having to look down to make sure it hasn’t really burst into flames.

Finally, as we get close enough to the hospital to hear the wail of sirens, I open my mouth. “Do you think it’s broken?” I ask Mommy hoarsely, even though I know she has no idea.

She looks relieved that I haven’t gone mute. “Oh no, hon, I’m sure it’s just a bad sprain.”

I decide not to tell her about the snapping sound I’d heard; at least one of us should escape the truth for as long as possible. That truth being, obviously, that there is something really wrong with me.


“So, am I dying?” I ask the doctor after I’m lying safely on a bed behind an ugly green curtain, sniffing silently.

His eyebrows actually disappear into his hairline, which is a pretty cool trick.

Mommy clears her throat apologetically. “Sorry, we are a bit on the high-strung side here.”

He chuckles and makes a note on his clipboard. “I see. Well, Bella, no, you are not dying. But it seems you have ruptured your Achilles tendon… Do you do regular sports?”

My Achilles tendon. I don’t believe it. I can’t believe it. It’s a dancer’s nightmare… Most pointe dancers suffer from Achilles tendonitis at some point, that’s why Shayna has us doing strengthening exercises for the muscles around the Achilles.

“Impossible,” I say aloud.

Mommy shakes her head, exasperated. “Ballet,” she says. “She takes ballet.”

The eyebrows disappear again. “Your name is Bella Rena and you take ballet?”

Oh, ha ha, good one, no one has ever thought of that before. I remain silent only out of respect for the medical field.

The good doctor senses I’m less than amused. “Anyway, that adds up. Well, Bella, let’s get you an ultrasound to see the extent of the damage, alright? And then we can discuss options.”

Well, that sounds perfectly ominous. Maybe I am dying.

I nod and thank him somehow, but I don’t tell him his ultrasound is worthless. I already know the extent of the damage: My entire life is ruined.

(Excerpted from Teen Pages, Issue 791)

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