Sunday, October 11, 2015
1st 5 Pages October Workshop - Jacobs Revision 1
Name: Elisa Jacobs
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Title: A Better Shape
POP! It sounded like knuckles cracking, or bubble wrap bursting. I’d been hearing it more and more lately. I’d be eating lunch, or brushing my teeth, when all of a sudden: POP!
In a way, the sound was worse than the pain that followed. I could deal with the pain, and if it became unbearable, there were pills I could take. But there was nothing I could do to drown out the popping sound that echoed in my head.
I blinked myself out of my daze. “Sorry, what did you say?” I shifted uncomfortably on Dr. Levy’s taupe couch. Everything in her office was beige except for the magenta orchid on her desk. I couldn't decide if the lack of color was calming or depressing.
Dr. Levy studied me as she adjusted her dark-rimmed glasses. “I was explaining the difference between talking about trauma and processing it.”
Right. My so-called traumatic experience. “What is there even left to process at this point? We’ve already rehashed what happened, and the story never changes.” The score was tied. I was running down the field with the ball when a player from the opposing team swooped in. But instead of kicking the freaking ball like she was supposed to, she kicked my knee. Hard. I heard my ACL pop, and my knee quickly gave out from under me. The next thing I knew, I was lying facedown on the cold, spiky grass. “My body failed me. End of story.”
“It’s not about changing the story, Hannah, it’s about changing your emotional response to it.”
Even though I’d been seeing Dr. Levy for almost a month, I still didn’t understand how talking about my feelings was supposed to help my rehabilitation. Someone hadn’t bullied me, a 140-pound girl had tackled me.
Dr. Levy gazed down at her yellow notepad. “You mentioned that your body failed you. Does that mean you feel like a failure?”
I shrugged. It was kind of hard not to feel like a failure. Junior year was peak time for college recruitment. Some coaches had shown interest in me last year, and had wanted to see me play again. But now, not only was I out for the rest of the season, I was damaged goods. Nobody buys a bruised apple on purpose.
“You know, Hannah, it’s not uncommon for athletes to become depressed after experiencing a significant injury.”
I crossed my arms over my chest. “I am not depressed. Not being able to play soccer has just been...” I paused, struggling to find the right words, “an adjustment.” I started playing soccer when I was five. My mom had initially signed me up for ballet lessons, but when it became clear that I couldn’t stand still long enough to plié, she exchanged my ballet slippers for cleats, and signed me up for youth soccer. After I scored my first goal, I was hooked.
Dr. Levy nodded. “Do you still feel like your friends don’t understand what you’re going through?”
I looked down at my leg, which was still purple and swollen. After my surgery, Em and Hayley jokingly called me the Bride of Frankenstein on account of the screws in my knee. At first, I laughed along with them, but then I burst into tears. Even though you can’t really feel them, having screws in your body is like having a permanent reminder that you broke and couldn’t put yourself back together again. “I guess,” I muttered, sinking into the couch.
Dr. Levy looked out the window and thought for a moment. “You know, Hannah, I’ve been thinking that you might benefit from group therapy sessions.”
I sat up. “Like with other injured athletes?”
“Well, no, you’d be joining a group of teenagers struggling with various issues, like depression or anxiety.”
I pictured myself sitting in a circle with the types of kids you see on the covers of those “Troubled Teen” pamphlets. I frowned. “I already told you that I’m not depressed, and now you want me to hang out with a bunch of cutters, drug addicts, and anorexics?”
She gave me a tight-lipped smile. “You’d be surprised, Hannah. Group therapy can be very therapeutic for people who feel isolated.”
I already had my own sob story to contend with. I didn’t need to hear a bunch of strangers tell theirs. One was more than enough. “Thanks,” I said, “but I think I’ll pass.”
“So how’d it go?” my mom asked as she drove me home after my appointment.
I shrugged as I watched the palm trees flash by my window. “Fine,” I said curtly. It was unlike me to be short with my mom, but I was tired of talking. Talking about my feelings had become so exhausting, I sometimes found myself wishing that I had torn a ligament in my jaw instead of my knee.
She eyed me sideways, like I was a bear who had wandered into her backyard and she wasn’t sure if she should wave her arms and yell, or keep perfectly still. “I spoke with Dr. Levy after your appointment,” she said carefully, “and she mentioned that group therapy sessions might--”
I clenched my fists. “Mom, I am not going to group therapy. There’s no way I’m talking about my feelings with a bunch of kleptomaniacs and glue sniffers. I’m not one of those people. I was going to play college sports! I’m not some girl who eats her feelings and hides donuts under the bathroom sink.”
My mom frowned, as if to say, “don’t use that tone of voice with me.” “I’m sure there are plenty of perfectly normal teenagers that go to group therapy.”
“I’m already seeing Dr. Levy one-on-one,” I said, raising my voice, “what more do you want from me?!” My mom booked my first appointment with Dr. Levy after I compared the sound of my ACL tearing to a funeral bell. I wasn’t suicidal or depressed or anything, but we had just readFor Whom the Bell Tolls in English, and it seemed like an apt analogy. I tried explaining this to my mom, but she didn’t believe me because 48 hours after my “For Whom the ACL Tears” speech, I was sitting in the waiting room at Dr. Levy’s office.
She sighed as she coasted to a stop at a red light. “I’m just worried about you, Hannah.”
When I saw the defeated look on her face, my shoulders drooped. “I know, Mom. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to yell.” I shifted my gaze downward. “It’s just that these stupid crutches are driving me crazy. But once I start physical therapy, I’m sure I’ll start to feel better.” I hated lying to my mom, but it was what she needed to hear, and what I needed to tell her in order to get out of group therapy. Starting physical therapy wouldn’t make a difference. Come , I’d still be on crutches, and I’d still be sidelined from life as I knew it. Surgery may have fixed my torn ACL, but I still felt like I was in pieces. I was a scrap of a person.
My mom gave me a tired smile and put her hand on my shoulder. “It’s okay, honey. I know it hasn’t been easy.”
I tried to smile back at her, but I couldn’t. I was just too tired. If there was one thing that was more exhausting than talking about your feelings, it was faking a smile.