Sunday, October 18, 2015
1st 5 Pages October Workshop - Jacobs Revision 2
Name: Elisa Jacobs
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Title: A Better Shape
When 17 year-old Hannah Fischer tears her ACL, her promising soccer career is brought to a screeching halt with a loud pop. Sidelined from life as she knows it, Hannah's injury leaves her feeling bitter and isolated from everyone, including herself.
So when Hannah meets Ryan Benson at physical therapy, she couldn’t care less. In fact, she can’t stand him. As Ryan tries to befriend her, Hannah assumes it’s because he feels sorry for her, and she blows him off. Hannah isn’t a charity case. But then Hannah learns about Ryan’s involvement in a tragic accident. He has lost even more than she has, and she can’t help but feel like she misjudged him. When Hannah gives Ryan a second chance, he helps her feel whole again, and even though she worries that they’re too broken to be together, she falls for him.
But just as their bond begins to deepen, Ryan’s past comes back to haunt him, and he spirals into depression. When Hannah tries to help him, he reacts spitefully and lashes out at her. After his relapse, Ryan begs Hannah to forgive him, but Hannah is shaken, and must decide whether they’re better off together, or apart.
The sound was innocuous enough, like knuckles cracking or bubble wrap bursting, but it still managed to haunt me. Even though it had been almost a month since I tore my ACL, the sound of my ligament rupturing still echoed in my ears. 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 was able to 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 noise 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 about to kick the ball down field when a player from the opposing team ran into me. Hard. I heard a loud pop, and then I collapsed into a heap 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. Do you feel like a failure, Hannah?”
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’m 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, my two best friends, Em and Hayley, had 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. “Would you ever consider participating in group therapy sessions? Some of my other clients have found them helpful.”
I jerked my head back, a little insulted. In movies, group therapy sessions always seemed to take place in mental institutions or rehab facilities. “Uh...who else would be in the group?”
“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 share my feelings with a bunch of cutters, addicts, and anorexics?”
She gave me a tight-lipped smile. “Group therapy can be beneficial for people who feel isolated. But you don’t have to go if you don’t want to. It was just a thought.”
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.
“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.
But my mom wasn't getting the hint. “Did you and Dr. Levy talk about anything in particular?”
I exhaled loudly. "I don't know. Not really. We talked about group therapy, but I'm not going."
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. "Are you sure you don't want to at least try it?"
I clenched my fists. “I’m not going to group therapy. There’s no way I’m hanging out 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 plenty of perfectly normal teenagers 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 anything, but we had just read For 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 let out a sigh. “It was just a suggestion, Hannah. No one's making you go to group therapy."
I flushed, embarrassed at my outburst. “I’m sorry, Mom. 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 feel better.” I wasn’t sure who I was lying to: my mom or myself. 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.
She gave me a tired smile. “It’s okay, honey. I know it hasn’t been easy.”
I tried to smile back, but I couldn’t - I was too worn out. If there’s one thing that’s more exhausting than talking about your feelings, it’s faking a smile.