I’m Getting Better

Here is a short story I wrote for a contest when I was 17. It's a little bit dark, but I think it provides a lot of insight into a teenagers head. This could obviously be improved, but I'm leaving it mostly the same (aside from some typos) because I think it's a really genuine story. Anyway, ENJOY! Scrappy Out!

Helping Harper

By Ragan Franzone, 2017

My name is Harper.  I’m eighteen years old and I’m currently laying in a pile of leaves and twigs at the bottom of a five-foot ditch.   It’s raining and I can’t go anywhere.  You might be asking why I don’t just get up and go home.  Well, I can’t.  I’m paralyzed, from the waist down. I was in a car accident about two months ago and my spine was fractured.  The doctors say that I will be able to walk again, but not for a while and after a lot of therapy.

Mom was driving and I was on my phone in the passenger seat, texting Phoebe, my best friend.  Mom she screamed my name and threw her arm across my chest.   I saw a blinding light and heard the sound of tires squealing on pavement.  The next thing I remember there were sirens and men yelling at me asking if I was ok and if I could move.

I tried to move, but the car door had been dented in so far that my legs had been pressed tightly against the center console and I had a horrible headache.  “Probably just whiplash.” I looked over to see if my mom was ok, but she was unconscious.  “I’m fine” I told them, rubbing my neck.

“Don’t worry” one of the paramedics said, he stayed beside me while they pulled mom out and put her in the ambulance.  Then they opened my door. It was the side where we had been hit and the door was so misconfigured that it had to be cut off the hinges.

“I’m going to need you to try to get out now, okay?” asked the man who had stayed with me.  I nodded that I understood and moved to get out. 

“I can’t,” I said looking down at my legs which were not doing what I had wanted them to.  “I can’t!” I cried as I started to panic.

“Okay, okay,” said the man. He signaled to the other paramedics, and they came rolling a stretcher with them.

One of them put me on a stretcher and then strapped a brace on my neck and a board to my back.  “I can’t move” I kept saying, and every time he would say “everything’s going to be ok.”, but I didn’t think it would be.  When they put me in the ambulance, they immediately strapped me to about a dozen machines. 

“My name is Liam” said the man who had stayed with me, trying to distract me as I was connected to an IV “what’s yours?”

“Harper.” I told him as I started to cry.

“Don’t worry Harper,” Liam said as he helped the other medic take vitals and strap me to machines. “Everything is going to be ok.” I nodded.

I watched as Liam removed my shoes and squeezed my feet.  “Can you feel this?” he asked.

I could not feel it and started to panic once again.  “Will I ever walk again?” I thought.  I was terrified and all I could think to do was to pray, repeatedly “please let me walk again.” I started to lose vision and heard Liam say something urgently about going into shock before I was consumed by the blackness.

The next day I woke up in the hospital only to find out that I had some nerve damage to my lower back, but not a broken spine.  I also had three broken ribs and a broken foot.  The doctors told me that I had a fifty-fifty chance of regaining the ability to walk.

I was in the hospital two whole months! I would wake up and a nurse would add more medication to the iv, the doctor would come in and ask how I was.  He would then do the same test he did every day, poke a needle into or flick the bottom of my feet and legs, to see if I could feel it, and, if I didn’t feel anything, which was the case until about two weeks before I was released, he would smile a sad, forced smile and tell me not to worry and that I was making great progress.  I knew he was lying.  At about four o’clock, no matter the day, Phoebe visited for several hours.

About three weeks later Phoebe poked her head into my room. “Hey Harper!”

“Hey” I said, happy to see her.

“What’s new? Did you finish the math homework?  It was killer!” she asked plopping down into the seat next to my bed.

“They took my cast off!” I said excitedly.  I handed her a stack of homework from the previous day.

“Awe! You got rid of my doodles?” Phoebe asked jokingly as she poked my big toe. “Feel that?”

“No” I said looking away.

“Hey, don’t worry!” she said trying to cheer me up. “When you get the wheelchair, you can go home right?”

“Yes.  But I don’t want a wheelchair! I want to walk by myself, and I want to do things by myself! I’m eighteen Phoebe! I was about to graduate, move out, and go to college! And now I can’t even go to the bathroom by myself! I’m helpless and I hate it!”

Phoebe put her hand on my shoulder.  “I’m sorry, but you’ll get better! I know you will! Now, I brought your favorite movies and some snacks, which one?”

I pointed to one of the DVD’s.  Phoebe was a good friend, and I was so thankful to have her.

I began to regain the feeling in my legs; however, it was slow and I was going to have to learn to walk all over again.  I attended therapy and made some progress with crutches, but I was not strong enough by myself.  Two months after the accident to the exact day I was released.   They sentenced me to a wheelchair for at least two more months, if I made good progress. 

“Mom, do I have to?”  I whined. “Why can’t I just use my crutches, like in therapy?”

“Harper, you know the therapist said you aren’t allowed to use them for long distance.  Only around the house when you have someone with you.”

“I don’t like it!” I crossed my arms in a defiant pout as they lifted me into my prison on wheels.  “I want to walk by myself.”

Mom patted my shoulder and pushed me down the hallway. “Sorry love.”

“Can I at least move myself?” I pleaded.

“Honey, it would just be so much easier if you would let me do it.  Your father is already waiting with the car downstairs.” We entered the elevator and pressed the ground floor button. 

 “I can take care of myself!” I was eighteen and about to go to college, but now I was stuck in a wheelchair, and I needed almost constant care for months!

The ride home from the hospital was the most stressful car ride I had ever been in.  Every sound was another car about to hit us and every bump or turn was terrifying.  When we finally arrived home, I was once again confined.  My parents put me in the sunroom because my room was upstairs.  Every ten minutes there was a head popping in asking if I needed anything.

“I’m fine!” I would say frustrated.

And every time I got the same answer “holler if you need anything!”

“I will” I would say, rolling my eyes.  They wouldn’t leave me alone.  I knew they were trying to help, but I didn’t want help! “I can do it myself!”

After I had been home for almost two weeks mom had to run to the grocery store.

“I’ll only be gone for like, twenty minutes. Will you be ok by yourself?” She asked me.

“Yeah mom, It’s not that long.  I’ll be fine.” I said as I looked up from the book I was reading.

She smiled, “Can I get you anything to eat or drink before I go?”

“No, I just had lunch and I still have my drink.” I replied going back to my book.

“Alright do you want me to move you to the Livingroom?”

“No mom!” I almost shouted.  I took a deep breath and continued. “I’ll be fine I promise, but when you get back can you drive me over to Phoebe’s? She has youth group tonight, but she said I could come hang out for a while before she left.”

“Sure honey.” Mom grabbed her purse and keys and headed out the door.  “Twenty minutes!”

“Yeah, yeah.” I said. 

Twenty minutes later I was getting restless, and bored.  I was ready to go see Phoebe, but mom still wasn’t home, so I called her. 

“Hello?” she answered

“Mom? Where are you? It’s been like thirty minutes?” I asked.

“Oh, honey all the lines are super long here! I’m so sorry I’ll be home in ten minutes. Are you ok?” she asked.  The concern in her voice irked me. 

“Yes, I’m fine” I said hanging up.  I was fine.  I just wanted to get out of this house.  I was angry that I needed help. I wanted to do it myself.  “I could do it!”   Phoebe’s house was only several houses away from mine and if I could get into my wheelchair, I could roll myself to her house. 

I managed to pull myself into my wheelchair and get to the front door.  Looking out I could see that it was going to rain soon, but I thought I could make it.  It was only like five houses down.

In our neighborhood the roads are still paved with the rough gravel cement instead of the smooth stuff.  It’s almost completely surrounded by woods, and it is on an incline.

The rain started when I was halfway to Phoebe’s house, but I kept going. This was the most exercise I had had in several months and I was getting tired.  It was especially steep here and I lost control of the wheelchair.  I tried to stop, but found myself rolling down into a ditch, in the rain.

Well, that’s it.  That’s how I got here.  I’m stuck and I can’t move myself all because of my impatience and pride.  When I fell my phone landed about two feet away from me and my arms aren’t strong enough to pull me closer.  It feels like I’ve been laying here for hours, but in all honesty, it’s probably been only about fifteen minutes.  My back hurts and I’m sure I’ll have some bruises.

“Hey are you ok? Do you need help?”

I looked up and saw a man from my neighborhood.

“No! I can do it myself! Can I do it myself? No, not this time.” “Yes! I need help!”

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