“You’re Going to Die of Cancer Mommy if you Don’t Quit!”


I blurted reluctantly, then intently and then tepidly from my seven year old heart at my mother in the kitchen that day.

Not because I didn’t believe it. I didn’t want the words that came out of my mouth to ever come true.


{ Elizabeth Taylor taking a drag in her Oscar winning performance in Butterfield 8. If my mother had a Facebook page today, Liz would be her doppleganger. }

{ Disclaimer: There is a point to these stories. I am travelling back in time and colouring my story to bring you to a point. I already know how it ends. I’m going back to the beginning to tell you the story. It’s cathartic yes AND maybe parts of my story will help parts of your life for the better. }

I used to hide my mother’s cigarettes. Everywhere. Infrequently. Funny she knew it was me. And her lighter. And her matches. And the ashtrays. All of them. Gone. Just magically gone. Not for long. Unless I had left the house. It would more than likely be less than a minute and I’d return them to her. She would go between being upset to feeling humoured by it, realizing in my efforts, I was really trying to look after her. How do you live on a constant line of contradictory, where you are constantly telling your children, “smoking is bad for you. It isn’t good to do. Well I’m an adult, and I’ve decided to do it.” If I managed to dart out of the room before she came back and was in another part of the house I could hear the long delay of silence after her steps into the bedroom. I could gauge the timing before I heard the juxtaposition of her various screams,

“Kaaatie” { humorous kidding } “I know you did this because you love me. AND, return them. Now!”

“Katie!” { frustrated }  No time for games. Replace cigarettes, ashtray and lighter pronto.

“Katieeeee!” { aggressive anger } Run! Let her open a new pack of cigarettes, find a new lighter and use a bean can.

I hate smoking. ‘Can’t stand it. Always have, always will. Smoking is the bane of my existence. I had to live in it every single day of my childhood. It’s possible that it’s the reason I was born prematurely. We’ll never know. I’ll I know is, it was the largest bone of contention between my mother and I our entire lives. Daily. Daily for 19 years solid and every other single time after that we were in the same room. It smells bad. Gives me an awful headache, a stomach ache. It makes me hold my breath. Do you know how often I have had to hold my breath? Close my nose? Maybe that’s why I could do so many lengths holding my breath in synchronized swimming. Luckily it could be mostly avoided in the morning until I got to school. Only 4-5 hours to avert after school before bedtime and could usually be contained within one room.

The worst was in the car. I was always rolling down the windows to get air. This annoyed my mother. This upset me. That upset her. And the cycle would continue. It seemed she took it all personally. It wasn’t personal in those moments. In those moments, I just wanted clean air, to avoid a headache, stomach ache and general malaise. This was made worse of course in the winter with the heaters blaring and the smoke building up in the car. It was suffocating. Sliding the window down to get some clean air in the car seemed the only refuge. I have spent many, many, many hours with scarves wrapped around my nose and mouth, blankets stuffed into my face, coat necks brought up around my nose blocking my mouth and nose trying to make it look natural so as to not upset my mother. My brother and I would do this individually in the back seat of the van. Eventually we figured out we could pool our resources and make a tent between the two of our jackets and at least have some breathing air instead of breathing in our jackets and scarves! Sometimes she would roll the window back up again. There was a lot of arm action here people with two people constantly rolling up and rolling down the windows. Once automatic windows came in well that was a whole other ballgame of window fun.

I still remember a girlfriend’s’ house I went to in Gr.6 who said to me, “Does you mother smoke?” I said yes and I asked her how she knew. She said she could smell it on my clothes. Great. I felt 2 ft tall and ashamed.  Although on the plus size her smoking did infuse in me that I would never-ever-ever smoke ever. I would never succumb to peer pressure of teens and never be a worry in that regard. I never heard the words when leaving for a school dance or party,

“No smoking.”

My mother knew all 3 of her kids didn’t like it, and would never smoke. I decided I would try it once at a local dance. I knew I would never buy a pack or take it up, but decided I ‘d try it once to find out the big deal was about. Nothing. I go nothing. No feeling, no slow gasp of relief  as though it was the best thing  that happened to them all day and they needed it as I’d seen in others after a first puff.

“What’s the big deal here?”

“You didn’t inhale properly.”

I tried again. Nothing.

“This is seriously stupid. Have fun.”

I would not try again for a few years. I was never tempted. No  desire. Most of my friends were preps or jocks. I was athletic and participated in many sports in highschool and competitively – namely soccer. Smoking wasn’t really the thing to do unless you were a headbanger. The headbangers were out smoking near the garbage dumpsters in their spray painted jean jackets and acid wash jeans. Getting caught in the washroom stalls where you could see the tinged orange burn marks left on the toilet seats and walls. Classy.

I went to work at a second camp and it seemed a lot of the staff were smoking. A couple of them were smoking “Green Deaths” – those Marlboro Menthol Green packs. They said they were stronger. I thought well maybe I’d feel something if I tried one of those. I told them I’d never smoke, but wanted to see what the big deal was and had tried and nothing happened. I don’t know what my 17 year old self was thinking, but I decided I’d be daring.

“Here – give me one of those.”

“You sure?”

“Yah.”

“I don’t want to be responsible for you starting a smoking habit.”
“Trust me. Ain’t going to happen. I do want to see what the big deal is though, ‘cuz right now it all seems fake.”

He passed me one of the green deaths and I told them,

“I’ll be right back.”

I took off out of the staff lounge and went into one of the kids cabins. This was staff week so there were no kids at the camp yet. I climbed up the stairs of one of the pine bunk beds covered in knifed out couples, “Joe hearts Sarah / ’93”. I sat backwards in the bunk with my back against the outer edge of the top bunk so I was facing the wall. I lit the cigarette. This probably took me four times. I wasn’t very good at it. I clasped my legs against the frame of the bed and hung myself upside down. I proceeded to take a series of puffs quickly inhaling in and out. I probably only smoked half the thing. I swung myself up.

“Woh! I feel good. I feel fine. There’s nothing to this stuff.”

I ran back to the staff lounge. They all wondered where the heck I went. I jumped over the puffy, 70”s brown felt couch someone’s parents had donated in one swoop!

“Hey”!

“Heyyy!”

“Heyyy”!

“Heyyyy! Where dyah go?”

I told them my green death bunk bed manoeuver and that I was feeling fine.

“Nothing happened.”

“Nothing?”

“Nadda.”

Three minutes had probably gone by total. All of a sudden all three of them seemed to be looking at like one another like something was wrong. They’re eye brows raised.

“What? What is it? Why are you guys looking at me that way?”

“Are you sure you feel ok Kate?”

“Yeah – I feel…..”

I started to not feel very good in that moment and everything started to slowwww wayy down.”

“‘Don’t feel so good…”

“Yeah – you don’t look so good Kate. Your face has lost all its colour and looks green.”

I slowly got myself up from the couch and walked to the outside of the staff cabin and lay sat down on the grass with my back against the wall. I didn’t hurl, but I sure didn’t feel good and couldn’t talk. They got me some water and said I just had to wait it out. And wait it out I did.

This of course is the other tactic to make sure your kids don’t start a habit. Mine was self-induced mind you. I was already getting too much of it at home! I think the one-time-over-do-it method is personally better and a healthier choice!

I never took up the habit. I knew I wouldn’t. My mother never stopped smoking. It never stopped bothering me. I didn’t stop opening windows, draping clothing, blankets, pillows and scarves over mu nose and mouth. This never stopped bothering her. She used to think we did to bother her. Nope. I know she started when no one knew better. When the Marlboro man was a sexy hero on horseback. I know it gave her relief. Albeit temporarily – each and every time as it does for all smokers out there. I know it’s addictive. I know my mother had endured enough stress that others wouldn’t have been able to cope with and this little tiny ciggy gave her some relief. I just think it’s silly. It’s a cigarette and it causes health issues – allergy, headache, Emphysema, lung cancer and death.

I’ve tried to think about why people think it “looks cool” and “sexy.” The James Bond creators don’t put a nice thin Capri, Virgin slim in the hands of their female seductress for no reason. Same for Bond. Here’s my theory. It isn’t the rolled up paper cylinder that sits two inches between a person’s fingers that seems cool – it’s the act – “the action” – of smoking. And why does the action of inhaling a piece of paper cylinder into your mouth seemingly look cool? Three reasons:

1) It’s “creating” something – a result, an action.
2) Freud. Our mouth is a sensitive, erogenous, intimate, powerful part of our body.
3) Distraction. Looking occupied. Busy. From something, from anything else.

What do I mean by all this? I believe we are all “creating” beings. We came here to create. Ideally create our given talents – whether they be works of art, song or intelligence. When we stand in our truth of creating – I believe it’s powerful, sexy and attractive to others. How does watching someone paint, play guitar or sing feel to you? In contrast to do nothing, but standing – when we often see smokers smoking – the action of “smoking” appears like the person is doing something with their hands, their mouth, their self. Is it for a creative end? No, but it is still not standing and doing nothing.

I wish people would take the cigarette out of their mouth – which is really a stick full of all their stresses, hurts and feelings they are avoiding feeling and take that out on page, canvas or guitar. Do something useful with your creating.

Quit Smoking.

YOU are better than a cigarette.

If you don’t think so, seek counselling, an acupuncturist, a hypnotist.
What is the point of smoking your life away?

Do you think you looked down from the ethers and said,

“Yah – you know what, I want to go back to earth and have a good time and I’ll absolutely make sure I’ll be smoking the entire time!”

I don’t think so.

I wonder if I would have taken up smoking she would have quit?

She never quit smoking. I never quit being bothered by it. It was one of the biggest bones of contention between us and it never ever went away.
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“Breathing my mother in,
Breathing,
Breathing her nicotine…
{ Breathing, Kate Bush }

Are you smoking a cigarette while you’re reading this?

Finally Breathing,
Kate
Red Fingerprint• 9pm, June 18, 2014
Locale: Sitting at my bamboo desk. Damp, post rainy humid evening
On Deck: “You smoke the day’s last cigarette,
Rememberin’ what she said”  ~ Turn the Page by Bob Seger
Feel’n: Melancholy. ‘Could be on a tattered porch deck, sipp’n vino watch’n the sunset with my lovely.
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Chapter 5 } My Soccer Slidetackle in exchange for a Torn ACL at 18


How tearing my ACL and consequential road to working out was not enough to stop me from getting diagnosed with fibromyalgia at the age of 22…

"Being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia at a Fit 22 Years of Age"

My nickname on the competitive team donned me a trophy one year. “Team Terror.” I was tough. I was a little scrawny 5.5 tough gal. I ran like hell, battled but could hardly deke and I never gave up. My mother couldn’t come to the games. I’d be piercing down the wing, get pummeled by a girl double my size, roll it out through somersaults right back onto my feet again without flinching! She couldn’t stand to see what would happen at the end.

I’m switching back now to after the October 22 car accident. Trust me, there is a rhyme to my reason of the order of telling my story. When the accident happened, I had just entered my second year of University at Queens. I’d moved out of my dorm, “Addy Hall”, affectionately nicknamed “The Nunnery”  for its girl residence. I had rented a house just North of Princess and Division Road and was sharing with 3 other roommates. I shared with 3 girls who were a little more mature then my dorm mates as I was a bit older than the other girls having being kept back a grade and also been away from home and parental rule already at the age of 16 years old when I worked for as a camp counselor for a family camp called Red Pine Camp for two summers. The job required 48 16 and 17 year olds to live in shared cabins for the summer while we worked for particular departments.

I was fit. Always had been. Born premature, my twin and I were naturally think, often sending the school nurses and teachers into inquisitive mode with my family, wondering if we were fed enough. We had incredibly high metabolisms and lived on acres of farm land with plenty of room to run around. We were not malnourished by any stretch of the means. We also enrolled in multiple sports and extra curricular activities. In part, to make up for the seclusion in which my home was, my mother’s intent was to make sure we could meet other children in these sports enrollments, because we couldn’t exactly run down  the street to a corner store or walk across the street to any neighbourhood kid.

We were enrolled in gymnastics, tennis and soccer. Soccer was my brother and I’s main sport that we would continue in since we were to young to deke and grabbed t-shirts instead to stop the play. Which is a riot if you’ve ever watched little tikes first starting in soccerball. There is no “positioning” as the kids run around following the ball like moths to a flame! I’d love to see a fast motion video from aerial on a kids soccer game. We would both go on to play competitive soccer. When I started there was no girls teams yet and I had to play on the boys teams. This was no problem until an opposing team had the same colour of jerseys and we had to go shirtless. Shirtless at prepubescent 13 isn’t exactly a good move. I sat out many a game that year. I also did synchronized swimming which I quite liked dancing in the water. In elementary school we started long distance running and this would continue into highschool along side soccer and other track and field events, like long jump and 200-400 metre relay. I was one of those runners with a second wind. I’d start hard, plateau out in the middle and then out of no where I’d get a gust of steam and  start lagging everyone and try to pull up and pass whomever to get to ….second. Always second. I think it was an engrained Canadian, “Oh, no you go first” mentality like I wonder a lot of our Olympic Athletes and NHL hockey teams seem to play a lot.

I still remember running an 800 relay I think for my highschool at the big inter-school Track and Field Meet. I had started off and there were some strong runners that pealed of in front. I though, ok, there fast. There’s no chance I’ll catch up. I remember chatting on the track with a good friend of mine coming up the first long stretch of the oval trying to catch my breath. Then, I remember something inside of me, ok, I’m going to give this a go and looked straight ahead and mouthed to my friend (to be polite I guess), Ok, I’m going to take off now. Bye. And off I took with an energy and overtook a couple of packs on the corner, up the last stretch, overtaking another runner and ran like hell to the finish line! I cannot remember if I finished 1st or 2nd in that race – either finish was an accomplishment.

I loved soccer the most. Most of the girls I grew up with played softball. I am not sure why I was not attracted to this sport, but I think its had something to do with the fact that most of the girls enrolled in city softball lived in town, the same town where their fathers played ball a generation before. Girls soccer didn’t exist them so perhaps they were continuing the tradition. My parents shared they were quite strategic in placing us both in soccer (they are smart parents). Quite simply, it is the best sport for cardiovascular activity. I gotta say, I truly believe enrolling your children in sports from a young age is the very best thing you can do for them. It’s exercise, it works their bodies and lets them know they have bodies. It builds strength, self-esteem, friendships and respect. I could go on. I have never understood parents who come close to trying or try, only to respond with, “Jimmy doesn’t like it.” Well find Kimmy one sport that he does like. What happened to the ‘ol threat, “Well, you’re going to do it, and you’re going to like.” Children need a push from parents.

By the time I got out of playing with the boys I was playing Forward position, Left Wing. In my opinion, with the exception of “Striker, Sweeper” or Center Half, is the best position. We get to shoot on net, stay mostly on one ed of the field, and look really good assisting goals! (Shout-out to my Center who we often switched back and forth, Erin Hancock-Electirc!). Our team was good. Really good actually. For all coming from a small town, competing with the city teams and rivalling Nepean franchise with their matching nylon K-way windbreaker uniforms, we kicked ass. For many years, the semi and final would come down to neighbouring town Richmond Hill. It would even become a battle, 2 years for sure I know it came down to tie games, no goalies, and then a shoot out! The Dads loved it when it came down to this. It was like they were getting their male sportsman rivalry out through their daughters! I’m going to toot my team’s own horn. This is how good we were. One game was against our neighbouring province to Ottawa – Hull. These girls were mean. They were big, French, cursing and mean. They didn’t play fair. We played fair. I can still remembering them hollering across the fields to each other, “A la gauche! A la gauche Les filles, a la gauche!” Most of us were bilingual, but I though it was kind of funny, because it seemed they were trying to yell their simple French at us, but we knew exactly what they were saying! At the end of one game, their touch bald-headed Bruce Willis look-alike coach angrily approached the ref when the whistle was blown to announce the end of the game. His fist was punching the air, “Rematch, Rematch! We want a rematch!”. The coach thought we didn’t fairly win. Which is completely ridiculous. They were just being sore losers. We were laughing, enjoying the win and reacting in disbelief to his claims to the Referee. Especially to the referee who just finished calling the game. The Bruce Willis coach would not give up. The ref staked his claim,”It was a fair game. Game Over.” ‘Still, Bruce Willis was relentless. We were eating orange and dunking the orange thermos of water and ice all over one another as was custom. We had jut played a hard 2 hours in the dead heat of an Ottawa 40 degrees summer heat. We were pack’n up to go home. Next thing we know, out coach pipes up, “You want a rematch? Fine. My girls will beat you again. Right Now.” Insert record scratching noise here. “Hugh?” we gasped.This was on heard of. There are no “re-matches” in girls competitive soccer. God, are there anywhere?

Girls, you won the game, fair and square. This guy wants to question that. I have full confidence you wold win again.

“1st goal wins.” our coach says.

“Fine” says the french Bruce Willis coach.

We played again as night was falling. We scored in the first 5 minutes.

You’ll never believe it. The coach took another fit! “Rematch! Rematch!” he screamed. Flabbergasted faces dominoed through the team and crowd.

“Fine. Girls….”

We played again. And we scored again. And the Bruce Willis bald coach cried again. That was it though. Our coach and the referee drew the line.

We were a good team. Our winning treasure was our exceptional goalie (JP). She was fearless. She was tall and big-boned for our 15-18 year old bodies. She could stop a brick that changed direction at the last-minute. I know we always felt bad when our defence let the ball go past them, but I’m pretty sure we bowed our head and walked back to the center line, because she always stopped that ball. Hell, not only did she stop the ball, she scored for us one game from as near the center line as she could get on an open net. She had a hell of a kick. We one a lot of games with her shut outs.

I was the crosser, the passer, the assister. As left-wing, it’s your job to be where the ball is going to be before it is, pass it to the center who will take a shot on the net. Kinda Wayne Gretsky style. “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” ~ Walter Gretsky to Wayne Gretsky. It’s a glory role! Sometime, your switching back and forth, intermingling between the center and wing position depending on where the ball is. You have to have lot of stamina to run that much. I remember why I began to work out. It’s after I tore my ACL. It was a measly highschool game. I say measly because, my highschool team was ass. No one played competitively except maybe one other person, so my competitive league was where my passion was  and invested heart, blood sweat and tears. And the $80. it cost for enrollment. Heck, my entire competitive team came from our neighbouring separate school where as I was the only one usually from the catholic highschool playing on that team my entire child and teenagehood.

I’m just setting the scene. It was grade 12 and it was the semi final. Myself and a couple other girls mostly carried the game for the rest of the team. We could barely makeup for the rest of the team. It was a lot of hard work for little return. But it was good practice for the competitive season. My nickname on the competitive team donned my a trophy one year. “Team Terror.” I was tough. I was a little scrawny 5.5 tough gal. I ran like hell, battled but could hardly deke and I never gave up. My mother couldn’t come to the games. I’d be piercing down the wing, get pummeled by a girl double my size, roll it out through somersaults right back on to my feet again without flinching! She couldn’t stand to see what would happen at the end. I remember getting carded once. First time. A yellow card was flashed at me from the rep after the play had been stopped. I looked behind me.

No one was behind me except Mr.So and So and the field line.

“Are you looking at me ref?”

The red got angrier. Funny, I wasn’t copping attitude, I was genuinely asking in shock.

“Number 12. Keep you elbows in. Next time. You’re getting a red card and your out of the game.”

I felt horrible. I couldn’t believe whatever move I played was enough to get a yellow card. Only tough french butches and angry hill-billy brunettes ever got that card.

My arms  were glued to my sides the rest of the game.

I digress. Return now to the semi final highschool game that I didn’t care too much about. We were playing one of the city teams that coincidently two closer friends who I had worked with at camp were on. I was playing left-wing and I was trying to enlist my fellow forward to play tight to the center line when the ball wasn’t in our end to keep the defence moving forward. This facilitates a run-off between opposing forward and defence lines to run like hell for the ball nearing the net. On the opposing side, it also keeps the forwards away from the opposing net in order to avoid an offside. Very good tactics for both teams.

I’m tight on the center line when the ball get whipped into our end an nobody was there. Not even close. No defence nothing. One of their forwards was eyeing the ball and had a clear pathway to our goal. I was looking around and yelling at the defence.

“Who’s on her? Who’s on her? Get her.”

Noone was gaining speed on her at all.

“Fuck this shit!”

I ran from the opposite side of the field where I was meant to play and ran straight at her. She was just leaving the center line so I had a chance. I ran like a bat out of hell. I was still to far away from her to catch up enough to get the ball away from her. A strategic slide-tackle was the team’s only chance. A slide tackle sounds vicious and it can but it’s also the games allowable mode of defence that deliberate body attack  is tolerated. The idea is, the ball is getting attacked, not the person. Inevitably though, one of both players go down. It’s a ballsy move and you have to know that you are could be diving in the air and you’re going to hit the ground hard. There is no blow up mattress to cushion your fall. I eyed her positioning, dug into the ground hard, leapt up in the air high and swept my right leg under the ball under her feet.

“Clunk!” the ball deadlocked.

She was knocked over. My body fell on top of my left leg sideways.

“Snap!”

I fell to the ground and rolled up onto my stomach. I was eating mudpacked dirt. Did I get  her? Has the play stopped? The play stopped. I was laughing in the dirt. The ref blew the whistle. Phew. Breakaway stopped.

“I think I heard a snap!” someone on the field hollers. Everyone came running over. My two friends from camp on the other team came over to.

“Does she always sound like this if she’s hurt?” the ref asked.

I was laughing. I was in shock.

My nickname at camp was, “Accident Prone Flood.”

“Yes, ref, she does. Kate you ok?”

I continued to giggle until I tried to get up. My left leg gave way beneath me. I was helped off the close end of the field and had to walk the long way around to where my coach and team was.

I sat off for 10 minutes and iced my knee.

“Coach! Coach. Put me back on coach. I’m ready. I’m fine now.”

“Hang on. Just wait. Hang on, Sit back until I call you.” my coach quipped, waving his arm backwards at me to sit down.

“Ok Kate, you’re on. Get out there. There’s only a few minutes left to the game.”

I ran back down the wing just in time with the ball in play coming to me. I had been on 10 seconds and was running down the wing looking for my teammate to pass it too. Then, I was down on the ground in a split second. I’d been hit. Barely a tap, and I was down for the count. She apologized (They do that in girls soccer). The girl had honestly ever so lightly tapped my left leg and I fell like dominoes to the ground. Highly uncharacteristic. I also couldn’t get back up to my feet this time. I dragged myself off the couple of feet to the sideline so the game could continue ball in play.

I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I knew I shouldn’t have caved way so easily. Ever. I was a tiger on the field.

“Coach, I think something’s wrong.”

“Not now Kate. Game’s on. Tell me when the games over.”

I knew something was wrong even though I couldn’t figure it out. I went to the local Medical Clinic in town I had attended since childhood. We were at least a 45 minute drive to any emergency department so this clinic would act as emergency as it was only 5 minutes away. I told them something was really wrong. It was an emergency. They balked and asked if I had an appointment.

“No, did you not hear what I just said.”

My new doctor who I had seen for a few years saw me, said nothing was wrong, dismissed me and balked at me interrupting the line. She sent me for a referral and I waiting a while before seeing anyone.

In the meantime, my knee was constantly giving way on me, and I would collapse on the fly for no reason at all. I still remember walking into the busiest club in Hull for my highschool Prom – completely sober – and collapsing to the ground upon entering the club door. Everyone thought I had too much to drink when really, I had ye to find out I had torn my ACL in my left knee and could not support my body weight.

Oh and going to see the surgeon and O-D-ing on their post drug surgery narcotics is a story all in itself…..

Thanks for hanging on…
I’ve got surgery in 4 weeks so I have  been pre-occupied with healing…

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STOP! 1749 People have stopped by to read my story! Please, I would love to hear from you! Wow! 100 more people joined over night to get emailed when I have a new blog entry!
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Apologies for the delay. I have been preoccupied with health concerns. I am attempting to write daily – weekly now.

Kate


By Kate Flood
• Listening to: Dead Can Dance, Vino Rouge, by my fire….
State of Being: Getting my swing back and tolerating my upcoming surgery…

Kate

Chapter 4 } Bikes, Shotguns and White Rabbits


{ Being held at Gunpoint at 15 years of age }

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“Shit. There’s rapids below me anyways. I think. Which bridge am I on? Fuck. Are those rapids at the mill or here? I can’t look over to see. I’d die anyways at that height. Wait. I’ve jumped off the highest diving board at Sawmill creek swimming pool. How high is that? Is that the same height? Would I make it? Fuck. I gotta run. And then my worst nightmare came true. Both. You know the nightmare where you have to run and your feet are frozen to the ground?”

Victoria Day Fireworks weekend –  1988. This was it. I mean, this was the highlight of Manotick’s social events for the year. All right, maybe Dickinson Day, but that was a whole other kind of water gun mania event. Victoria Day was a long weekend of freedom. A weekend for summer romances, confessing summer crushes and being a well a teenager . I wanted to go. I grew up outside of Manotick – on the fringe really – near Ottawa. I lived in a large beautiful home that my father designed and built himself with his father, his cousins and the contracted professionals. As a kid, it felt like it was in the middle of butt farg Idaho though. I wasn’t any different then most of my schoolmates mind you living in the outskirts of Ottawa.  Anytime I had the chance to ride into town with my parents for errands, I would. “What? There’s more people that exist outside of my 280 acres of field existence?”  There was a plus side to living out here. I couldn’t really be grounded. Really. This didn’t stop my parents from yelling it though.

“Katie, you’re grounded.”

“Uhuh.”

“Don’t you uhuh me child. You’re grounded.”

“Okay ma. I’m grounded.”

I’d go back up to my room where I spent most of my free time staring out the window and the hay fields that went on forever into eternity. I used to think if I followed the creek it would lead me to the Sahara Desert. “Grounded from what”?” I’d say out loud to myself. The non-existent store around the corner? My next-door neighbors 5 miles down the road? There was nowhere to go. Nowhere to get into mischief. It all required a vehicle and an adult to get you there. My parents did a lot of driving. I have a twin brother. There was always soccer, hockey, gymnastics etc. A friend of mine who lived even further out then I did was over visiting. We decided we wanted to bike into Manotick for the Victoria Day ballgame and fireworks. My older brother had bought my brother and I real purdy matching blue 10 speed bikes. We planned to ride them the 5 country roads it would take us to get into town. I asked my mother if we could go.

“No”

“Please?”

“No.”

“Come onnnn Mom. Please”

“Pretty please?”

“Nooo. I said No and that’s it.”

“Why not? Why can’t we go?”

“I just don’t want you go there.”

“Why not. You don’t trust us?”

“I said No and that’s my final answer.”

“Mom! Why not? We’ll be fine.” I interrupted her.

“It’s not you I don’t trust Katie.”

I was relentless. “Mom!”

“It’s everyone else out there I don’t trust Katie.” She yelled over me.

“Come on! It’s Manotick!”

“Alright fine. Go. But take the sidewalks. Don’t talk to anyone and you’re calling me from the payphone when you get there…and you’re home before dark.”

“Mom! The fireworks don’t start until it gets dark.”

“You’ll come home and I will drive you back in then. The road are not lit and there is no chance in H- – I am letting you ride back alone in the dark on those roads.”

We agreed and ran off giggling in 15 yearold hysterics and got ready to go. This was a big deal. First time out of the house on my own and on bikes! I had walked 5 fields down for tobogganing and summers with some childhood friends, but never this kind of distance. It was the summer of ’88. Cut off jean shorts were in. There is an undercurrent of how significant this event in my life was and what it would mean for me down the road. We were in the beginning prime of our teenage years, our puberty, our sexuality, our freedom. My parents were always protective. They had almost lost me once and I don’t think they ever wanted to take chances with me again. They were finally letting me go out on my own. This was a big deal. I was so excited.

We took off on our bikes. Thank God helmets weren’t a thing yet. Yuck. Would have cost extra anyways. ‘Would have ruined our meticulously combed hair. Jackie and I were still incredibly innocent girls. Jackie was a gorgeous girl. A spotlight of the high school fashion show and leggier then me. I’m sure my mother wished our cut-off jean shorts were bermudas. How could she complain? They came from her generation and have never gone out of fashion since. We took off. Our biggest challenge was the big hill right close to my home on Limebank Rd. The hill seemed so much bigger on bike I learned. We biked our way up, chatting and goofing around on the way. Rideau road was windy and we were having fun swaying our back tires back and forth and tracing figure eights on the roadway. No traffic to speak of. When we got to Regional Road eight we had to be careful. It was a main thoroughfare and really busy with cars speeding most of the time. I’m sure it took as a small lifetime to get there. We arrived at the grounds and hung out with our friends from school who all lived a short walk away to the Manotick Arena. There was a big ballgame going on and a few concession stands to get lost in cotton candy at. I’m sure we dug into some french fries from the fry truck and flirted our innocent way around the swing set where the preteens were hanging out. We laughed, goofed around and had a ball. Dusk was setting in and I knew it was time to make the trek back. Never quite the same on the way home is it?

We headed home. We were still right in the middle of “downtown” Manotick and riding over the Main Street bridge that first brings traffic into the center of town. We had been riding the sidewalks as my mom instructed and I was just as happy to oblige being away from the cars. The sidewalk ended halfway over the bridge. Riding in tow I was in front of Jackie. I slowed down and threw my leg over and hopped off my bike. She did the same. We were waiting on the edge of the sidewalk watching the flow of traffic waiting for it to stop so we could hop back on our bikes and ride the road until the sidewalk would start up again. We thought.

In the flash of a second I was staring down the barrel of a shotgun. I had never done this before. It is bloody terrifying.

There was no warning, no before, just this moment. There is a man coming at me and intently pointing a big gun right at my face and he’s screaming bloody murder loud at the top of his lungs.

“Jump off of the bridge!”

I want to run hard! I want to run fast! I want to get out of here! My mind is racing a million miles a minute. Tons of bits of information is coming into my head clearly and quickly. I’m on a bridge. There is steel bridge rail behind me that is at least 41/2 feet high. I’d have to turn around and hoist my leg over the bridge and jump. That means my back would be to him. I don’t know what he’s going to do if I move. I won’t be able to see the gun. He’s now waving the gun up and down at me frantically in fits and spurts. There is no rhythm to it. There is no way to monitor his next move. He screams even louder at me,

“Jump off of the fucking bridge!”

Every time he said “fucking” he waved his gun eve more angrily just on that word. You don’t have to accentuate it buddy. I’m scared shitless already. The “F-word” isn’t gonna wanna make me jump any more or less! Shit. There’s rapids below me anyways. I think. Which bridge am I on? Fuck. Are those rapids at the mill bridge or here? I can’t look over to see. I’d die anyways at that height. Wait. I’ve jumped off the highest diving board at Sawmill creek swimming pool. How high is that? Is that the same height? Would I make it? Fuck. I gotta run. And then my worst nightmare came true. Both. You know the nightmare where you have to run and your feet are frozen to the ground? Where you want to scream but you can’t?

I try to move my feet. Maybe if I shuffle slow to the side, I can duck and dive under the car that is stopped there. Why is there a car stopped there? This guy stopped his car in the middle of the road? Of all the negative influences movies have, they do provide reference points in times of unbelievable events. Yah, I’ll dive 5 feet under a car like a Charlie’s Angel and the hard concrete will soften my fall. Well, still better then a bullet through my head. Cue Drew Barrymore’s produced Charlie’s Angels slow motion image of Kate flying through the air music now! { I met her once. Zaphods, Valentines Day with Tom Green. But that’s another story } I can’t move my feet. I am telling them to move and they’re not moving. Why aren’t the moving now of all times? He seems to be getting angrier that I’m not jumping of the bridge. He’s got a gun pointed at my face. Does he realize the predicament I’m in? Seriously. He yells furiously loud at me again,

“I told you. Jump off of the fucking bridge right now!”

I think I need to scream back. I need to scream. I want to scream. Will it shock him away? I try to scream. My mouth drops and nothing is coming out. No sound. Nothing. I can’t scream. Inside I am screaming and nothing is coming out. I was terrified. Fuck. What is going to happen? How am I going to get out of here? How do I get him to back away? However long these minutes lasted I was initially cognizant of Jackie, but then everything around me disappeared. Of all the things going on in these moments, this man’s screams, his waving shotgun, my desire to run or jump and scream, feeling the hot summer concrete below my converse sneakers, the only single thought in my head was, “I’m going to die. I want to live.”

I never moved a foot. I never managed a sound from my mouth. My body was frozen. If I don’t move, maybe I will not disturb this man anymore then he already is. Then, out of nowhere, as fast as he was in front of us pointing his shotgun, something happened. Everything became very still and silent. All the sounds of summer I did here we gone. The background noise of a small town faded. It was clear I wasn’t budging or listening to his orders. Not that I was making decisions. It seemed like something was controlling me. If I jumped, I’d surely die. If I stayed, he’s going to blow my head off.  I tried running and couldn’t move. I guess I’ll just stay put then. Out of nowhere it seemed as though the air got lighter and brighter. I couldn’t see anything around us except for an isolated vision of this lunatic. A soft ball of light with no distinctive edges, just a fade disappearance into the atmosphere appeared around us, between him and I. He went from being frantic loud and crazy lunatic waving a shotgun at me in the middle of the busiest street in town, to slowly lowering his gun as though someone had gently laid their hand on his barrel and it lowered slowly to his side and he walked calmly in a daze back to his car, got into the driver’s side, started the car and began to drive off like nothing had ever happened. All in light of day in the one of the most charming rural towns on the Main street. My eyes seemed to follow him, protected by an imaginary shield and there on the side of the road closest to me was a longhaired blond woman sitting in the passenger seat. It was a small white rabbit car and there was a woman in the passenger seat the whole time this was happening?

Jackie and I turned our heads slowly and looked at one another for the first time in the minutes that seemed like hours that this holdup took place. We began to sheepishly laugh in the rhythm of a stalled stick shift car.

“Jackie…that, that, that was a gun!”

Jackie was still laughing, and managed, “I know.”

Our moods were interchanging between laughter and dead straight seriousness simultaneously. We needed to do something constructive now right? Unbeknownst to us. We were in shock.

“Jackie, we gotta get the license plate!” We both dropped our bikes, tires spinning, ran onto the road and ran down main street after this little white rabbit car. After thought: What’s a guy with a shotgun driving a rinky-dink shitbox like a white rabbit for anyhow? ‘Not a particularly masculating car now is it? Shouldn’t he have been driving a Chevy or Ford pick-up truck or something?

There weren’t any cars behind us so we were running in the middle of the bridge after this car. I squinted my eyes zoning in on the small plates and tried to read all 6 digits. I got the last 3 digits of the license place thinking Jackie had got the first 3. We ran as far as we could before the speed of the car had taken it far enough that we could not see it anymore. We both bent over and were panting in the middle of the road trying to catch our breath.

‘Did you get it?” we asked each other out of breath.

“U4N” we said gasping for air at the same time.

“Did you get the first three?” we said again under our breaths at the same time.

“No.” I thought you would.

“No.” I thought you would.

We laughed.

“Shit. Holy Shitttt! What the fuck just happened?”

Dusk was setting in.“Oh my God. It’s getting darker. We have to get home before dark or my mother is going to kill us.” We rode hard back the busy road, up the long side country roads, up Spratt to Rideau back to Limebank. Thank God the last part was all downhill this time. We slowed down near the driveway and turned into together.

“You going to tell your mom?” Jackie asked.

“Uh uh. No way! Are you kidding?”

“Yah, I guess she’d never let you out of the house again.”

“And how.”

We threw down our bikes, walked by the pool gate and tried to quietly walk into the house all sugar and spice like. My mother was most likely in the gazebo lounging where she spent most of the summer.

“Katie? Hi girls. Did you have a nice time?”

“Uhuh” we said in unison and closed the screen door behind us.


{ Cue theme music: It’s a toss up between 2 top hits for the summer of ‘ 88: “Good Thing” by Fine Young Cannibals for the bike ride in and my favorite at the time, “Sweet Child of Mine” buy Guns and Roses. How appropriate. }

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Where’s the holiday snow in Ottawa anyhow?
Kate
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By Kate Flood
• 5:17pm • Starbucks
State of Being: Whatever.
• Listening to : Dave Mathews, “Space Between”

Chapter 2/2 } A $3000 Hydro Pole and an Abscess


{ Chapter 2 – Excerpt #2}

{ "This pole cost $3000 to replace." }


A $3000 Hydro-Pole and an Abscess

“I couldn’t afford physiotherapy on top of school. I was scrounging as it was. Living bare minimally. It was the standard middle-class student life. There was no extra cash flow. I already paid extra to go to the nicer gym downtown. The University gym was always packed, stank-rank and the fluorescent lighting made me crazy.”

After I was discharged from the ER, the doctor told me to visit my GP. I asked him why. He just informed me to please do it. I went to the student clinic on campus.  The doctor there examined me and asked how my neck was. I said fine. I said I felt sore in the rest of my body, especially my legs. He asked me to come back and see him in a month. I asked him why. He told me that sometimes things can come up a month after someone has had an accident. He was right. A month to the day, my neck was hurting. Every way I turned seem to aggravate it. What I noticed the most was the pain during my classes. Of all the degrees I could have been taking, of all the subjects I could have been majoring, I think I must have been in the very worst when it came to having neck pain. Communications. Film Studies to be exact. Do you know what one does in Film Studies? I had two to three and sometimes four, four-hour labs a day. What does one do in a film lab you ask? Why they watch movies of course. Sounds like fun right? Not so much. I was sitting in those uncomfortable half-desk, half  chair contraptions that a lot of lecture classes are in. Hard seat. No neck support. I was having the hardest time holding my neck up and I had no idea why. I didn’t think I had injured it. After all, it didn’t hurt when I got out of the car. I tired putting my hands behind my head to told it up. I tried stuffing my sweaters behind my neck to support it if I could find seat against a back wall. Nothing seemed to help for very long. I went back to the campus medical clinic to see the doctor.

“You have whiplash,” the doctor said.

“How could that be?” I asked.

“You were in a significant car accident. It’s very common.” He said.

“But, but, it didn’t hurt when it happened. And how come it just started to hurt now then?” I said.

He explained what typically happens in a car accidents. The amount of force pushes the neck back and forth and in my case all directions. In order to protect itself the person’s body the muscles tense up. He explained that records show that most of the time almost exactly one month after the accident the muscles try to relax and cannot anymore. Inflammation begins and then pain.

I started to cry. I don’t want this. I don’t need this. It hurt something awful. “What do I do doctor?”

“Well, you need to go to physiotherapy for your neck. I will also give you some muscle relaxants.”

He referred me to a physiotherapist and gave me the prescription for the muscle relaxants. I hobbled back home. I went to my appointment at the KJH Hospital and saw a physiotherapist there. It was one of these crowded places with hospital gurny’s lined up side by side, privatized only by a blue hospital curtain. It was claustrophobic and I felt like a number. I thought the physio would be covered by OHIP. A part of it was and a part of it wasn’t. I couldn’t afford physiotherapy ontop of school. I was scrounging as it was. It was the standard middle-class student life. Living bare minimally. There was no extra cash flow you know? I already paid extra to go to the nicer gym in downtown Kingston. The University gym was always packed, stank-rank and the fluorescent lighting made crazy. I made meals at home (Full 4 food group meals – this would prove to be an excellent source of procrastination from studying while I made complete dinners!). Subway was a treat out, and of course money for the pub on the weekend! Student standard no?

I called Alex and told him I needed my money to pay for physiotherapy. It seems he would have a more pressing manner. He was angry at something. “My father knows about the accident.”

“So. What’s the big deal?” I asked him.

“I didn’t want them knowing.” he quipped.

“Well how did he find out?”

“He must have opened my mail. We have the same initial.” Alex lived at home with his parents still. “I got sent a bill from the City of Kingston.”

“For what?”

“The hydro-pole.”

“Oh.” I think I laughed. It sounded kind of funny. That’s odd I thought. “Why did the city of Kingston send you a bill for a hydro pole? How much was it for?”

“I guess because I damaged it or broke it or whatever. They sent me  a bill for $3000.00 dollars!”

“Oh.”

There was silence on the phone for a while. I felt bad for Alex, but frankly had other things on my mind. It all sounded rather hilarious. I told him about how my neck had been hurting and I needed to take Physiotherapy for it.

He sounded surprised I needed physiotherapy. Yes I said. “Are you sure you really need it Kate?”

“What are you talking about? Yes, I’m sure I really need it. God, I wouldn’t want to traipse over to the physio two to three times a week for the hell of it!”

He said ok and that he would repay some more of my money into my account. It didn’t appear. I tried calling him. No answer. Cell phones weren’t as hot as they are today in 1995 so I could only call and leave messages. I got tired of waiting. I called home and told my Dad about physio not being covered. He said he would pay, “But didn’t Alex have insurance?” That it should be covering the cost.” he said. I didn’t understand. I never owned a car (long enough to drive) and didn’t understand the workings of being in a car accident.

I remember trying to call Alex over and over again. He was never home. I hated hearing his mother’s wretched high-pitched voice on a good day, now it was driving me looney. “Alex” she would shrill hardly taking the phone from her ear. He’s not in the phone lady I can remember saying to myself. It never stopped. I could never find him. He didn’t return my phone calls. We had a mutual couple in common. My best friend at the time and her boyfriend. We had all met as counselors at summer camp. My best friend went off to University after camp and the guys stayed in Ottawa and worked. I would find out through my friend that Alex would be there on the weekends partying. So at least I knew he hadn’t fallen of the face of the earth. I would tell my best friend about the nightmares and how I was feeling and that I still kept going.  “Did she know where Alex was?” I would ask. I don’t remember receiving much sympathy. And pretty soon it seemed like she questioned my concerns over the accident and trying ot track Alex down.  Alex told them the accident wasn’t that bad. That it was a fender-bender. A fender-bender? Are you fucking serious? She was seeing Alex more then I was. All three of them would party on the weekends in her University town and in Ottawa. I was getting angrier. Why wasn’t he returning my phone calls? I needed my money to pay for my physiotherapy now. When I finally did get a hold of him I told him my father was going to help pay for the physiotherapy. Alex said he would look into paying for the physio. I think he paid a couple of times and it was like pulling teeth to arrange the money transfer. I think he thought that’s all it would take. And what I found out next, I could not believe. I cannot remember now how I found out.

Alex did not have insurance. Not just liability insurance to cover my physiotherapy. He also did not even have the car insured to be on the road at all. That’s right, for the road. Smooth move ex-lax. Colours a far larger graver picture doesn’t it for crashing your dream car that you put your own time and money on only to crash it on your first long test drive. He worked on that car all summer. He had it parked at camp. Everyone at camp knew that car. And that drive to city hall? He was charged for not having insurance and his license was revoked. That’s why he wanted me to drive him out of the lot. He wasn’t legally supposed to be driving. So he dumped a wad of cash into first buying this Porsche 911 Targa. He lost that money in a heartbeat. He was charged by the city of Kingston for the hydro pole $3000.00. Gone. And now I needed money to pay for my physiotherapy. The picture was getting so much better no?

{ to be continued… }

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Aways to go yet!
Kate

By Kate Flood
• 4:13pm, Starbucks
State of Being: Hot and cold at the Starbucks. Listening to best dance song and essay writing on a deadline song: “Silence” Delerium and Sarah McLachlan.

Chapter 2 } A $3000 Hydro Pole and an Abscess


{ Chapter 2 – Excerpt #1}

A $3000 Hydro-Pole and an Abscess

“The tears were running down my face and I could still hardly speak a clear sentence. And then he did the unthinkable. He put his knee up on my shoulder and pulled hard on my tooth with whatever tool he had.”

Alex did end up flipping that tacky Porsche quite quickly. He didn’t however; return the money I loaned him in the same manner. He said he still needed it for the Porsche. The one he had picked me up in. I told him as long as when each month comes he pays me what I need to pay rent, for my groceries and bills. He said, “No Problem.” He stuck around for a week or two. I returned to my classes at Queens. Aside from being on my crutches for my right leg, I thought I was doing pretty ok. It was a nuisance getting around a big campus on which I’m sure anyone who’s had the experience would share. I didn’t have wheels, so I walked everywhere. The old buildings don’t have escalators or elevators so I had to go up flights of stairs. It’s also next to impossible to carry a knapsack full of books when you’re on crutches. This it turns, would  be the least of my concerns.

In the middle of the car accident mess, I had just had braces put on. Yup. 21 in University with braces. Nice. I was not a happy camper. I’m not even sure where the idea came from. My mother insisted I have braces. My teeth weren’t that bad. I was so worried. First official time away from home and boy crazy. “No one’s going to like me. I’m going to look like a kid with braces on in University. Nobody has braces in University!” I love how our teenage minds can be all-inclusive sometimes! Turns out, yes it was a nuisance, but I found out later that the guys actually dug the braces because I looked like a 16 year old. Nice.

Two weeks after the accident I was scheduled to have 4 teeth removed from my mouth. The four teeth just a couple over from my front on both sides. Now I want you to remember what my orthodontist said next. “We’ll remove these and you will still have plenty of room for your wisdom teeth to come in.”
I went to the dental specialist’s office in Kingston. Alex was still with me so he came with me for support and to drive me home after. The dentist froze my mouth. Great, I need to go through this again? At least the needles weren’t going through my face. I asked how long it would take. “Less then ½ hour per tooth. We’ll just do 2 today though and then you can come back for the other two.” he told me.

“And I won’t feel a thing doc?” I asked.

“Nope. Not a thing. I do this everyday. You’ll be fine.”

His words would soon be eaten. The dentist proceeded to try to remove one of my teeth. I could feel my head been yanked on, but it wasn’t really painful. It was ok that it wasn’t too painful, after-all my mouth was frozen. What was uncomfortable was having to provide a counter force to the dentist trying to yank a tooth out of my mouth. It’s not exactly relaxing. One cannot really let go. Kind of like when you get your haircut. You don’t just ‘let’ the hair stylist pull our head along with them pulling the hair up to cut it, you provide a counter force by keeping your head still.  I was getting tired of doing that for the dentist. A ½ hour had come and past. Still no tooth. Of course, I couldn’t really talk because my mouth was frozen. I attempted to, but I just sounded like a dribbling unrecognizable drunk person. Great. I can’t even ask this guy what’s taking so long I was thinking to myself. Tears began to seep gingerly from my eyes. My neck was killing me from pulling back against him. I motioned them to my neck. They put something behind my neck for more support. 45 minutes past. Still no tooth. I was getting frustrated. Why weren’t my teeth coming out? He kept going back and forth to other patient’s in-between this as well. There were maybe five little dental areas separated by a half wall that did not go to the ceiling so you could hear each person the side of you. He seemed to be getting frustrated although I know he was trying to act like everything was ok and it was no big thing. I think the freezing started to ware off because my mouth was getting sore and so was my neck. No doubt. He kept shouting over the various cubicles,

“Diane, Can you get me this other tool?”

They tried a new tool. Nothing. My teeth were not budging.  He yelled again across the cubicles,

“Lets try this tool. It’s got to work. Can you get me this tool please?”

He was getting more and more frustrated. As was I. The tears were running down my face and I could still hardly speak a clear sentence. And then he did the unthinkable. He put his knee up on my shoulder pulled hard on my tooth with whatever tool he had.

I screamed out loud from the back of my throat. He yanked again. I yelled again. I heard a child in the waiting room outside scream in response. Then I heard the per kid say, “Mommy, I’m scared. I don’t want to go in there!” Then he started to ball. The dental hygienists looked at one another wide-eyed. I would find out later from Alex who was waiting for me in the waiting room that the whole waiting room had jumped up when I screamed and all looked at each other no doubt wondering what was going on.

“More freezing.” The dentist told his dental assistant.

They gave me more freezing. Holy shit already can my mouth having any more freezing already?

“I’m sorry Katherine. I am not sure why this is taking so long. You’ve got stubborn teeth.”

The dentist finally got one tooth out. He then proceeded to take the next. He then told me that because it was taking so long he did not want to put me through this again so he was going to go ahead and take the other remaining two teeth totaling four. Gee Thanks. What do you want me to say here in the chair when I can’t speak because my mouth is so frozen? They never gave me laughing gas. I found out about that later. They could have given me that to help you know? I sat in the chair until it was all over. My neck had pulled against the force of his hands and his shoulders and I swear he had is boot on my shoulder at one point for a total of 4 hours. When it was all over he disappeared and came back with x-rays and a satisfied looking grin on his face.

“I know why it took so long Katherine. I hadn’t looked at these since you were booked. The x-rays your Orthodontist had sent over from Ottawa. Your teeth. Katherine, in my eleven years of dentistry I have never in all my life, seen someone with roots as big as yours. He took at a rule measure and measured them in from of me. See? Why they are almost 5 cm in length!” At this point I didn’t give a rats ass. Seriously. I was exhausted. I just wanted to get out of there and into my bed. I didn’t want to set foot inside another dentist office again. I walked out to a waiting room of curious and scared looking patients. Alex took me home and I went to bed.

I had a routine to follow when I returned home. I had to clean out my mouth and the holes where the tooth was every day to make sure they remained sterile. Hard to do balanced on one leg, but I did. Two weeks later I had the worst pain in my lower right side. God-awful pain. God bloody awful I tell you. I couldn’t fathom what was going on. It became unbearable and I wasn’t sleeping and eating. I was on the prescribed antibiotics and anti-inflammatory to reduce the pain and ward of infection so what was happening? I called the dentist and they told me that was abnormal and to come in right away.

“You have an abscess Katherine.”

“An ab what? What is an abscess and how did I get it? I don’t understand.”

“I gather it’s because your roots were so big. One of the areas in your gum where we removed your tooth has become infected. I can tell you’ve done a good job of cleaning, it’s pretty far down there and food can get stuck.” He gave me a different antibiotic and removed the debris and sent me home. Great. I’m having such a good time. Anything else you want to throw my way Universe?

{ to be continued… }

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Aways to go yet!
Kate

By Kate Flood
• 1:52pm • First “Write-In” at “Cafe Oh So Good”, Ottawa, ON
State of Being: Pretty flipp’n angry at a current life situation. Listening to “Dead Can Dance” which is excellent for flow writing I might add.

1/4 } Pilot’s Licence for a Porsche


{ Chapter 1 – Excerpt #4 }

“The Porsche 911 Accident” { Division Rd Bridge, Kingston, ON • October 21, 1995 }

Pilot’s Licence for a Porsche

{ continued… }

“Crazy was being in a car doing eight 360 degree turns at mock 112 km/hr and hydroplaning into a hydropole. Now that, that’s crazy!

“Seriously? You’ve got to be kidding me.” I was already holding all the muscles in my body tight, unable to relax, thinking that this would somehow control the car and keep it from spinning off again. And now the first snowfall. On the 401. Nice. The night of the accident it had rained hard all night. Snow was worse in my opinion. I couldn’t blame Alex for the snow, but it didn’t make me any more comfortable. God, and now it was getting colder. There was a blanket in the car and I covered my shoes with. It didn’t help. Cold feet. Cold interior and now cold air blowing in. It was a losing battle. One of my biggest pet peeves is cold feet. I was miserable. I grinned and bared it until we got back to my place in Kingston.

We got in and it felt weird being back in Kingston since the accident. I  didn’t sleep well. I was having nightmares. horrible nightmares. In fact, I had never had them this bad. They would jolt me out of my bed in the night gasping for air or breath and I’d want to scream. It felt like the wind was being knocked out of me and I couldn’t breathe. Sometimes they didn’t make any sense and sometimes I was in car and waking as the car was spinning out of control. I was really truly very scared each time I woke up. I wanted to be consoled. They were so loud and felt so real. Alex shook them off like they were nothing.“Normal” he said. I also remember going to walk down the stairs and the stairs took on a mushroom-like induced cartoon quality floating beneath my feet. I would go and put my foot down and the stairs would seem to move. I would find out later that this was Vertigo from the accident. If you’ve ever had you know it makes you want to hurl. I also found it incredibly unsettling as I though I was going crazy. No. No I wasn’t. Crazy was being in a car doing eight 360 degree turns at mock 112 km/hr and hydro planing into a hydropole. Now that, that’s crazy! Especially, especially if you were trying so hard to stop the car and stay alive instead of let go and pretend your on a merry-go-round. No such luck.

This wasn’t reassuring. The following day Alex asked me if he could leave the car in my driveway for a while. I said ok, but asked why. He said he didn’t have a place to store it back home. “What about you parents place?” I said. “They have plenty of driveway and a garage space.” Alex had always worked on cars and boats. He built his first small sailboat  when he was 15 years old so it was something they were accustomed too.

“I just don’t want to bring it back quite yet.” he quipped.

“Alright” I said. It was the least I could do given the circumstances. Then he asked me if he could stay with me for a while. We had never lived together and this was just the start of my second year into my degree. “Well, I’m not sure Alex. I need to consult with my 3 roommates first. For how long?” Just a week or  two he told me. I told him it would be ok for a bit. I found this all passing strange. Alex stayed. In the coming week, he explained that the Porsche he had rebuilt he wanted to flip and sell. This plan had obviously gone down the tubes. He had no money. I asked him how he got the other Porsche all of a sudden. I don’t remember the answer, but I do remember it was rather scant in details. I felt bad that he had lost the money he put into the car all to have it wrecked in a couple minutes. This was his source of income for now. It’s how he made a living.  And then he asked me something else. One more thing. Could I lend him some money to buy another Porsche so he could flip it and generate some income. You can’t write this stuff any better can you?

“Let me get this straight you want me to lend you my non-existent money – aka – student loan – that I need to survive on so you can buy another Porsche?” I was working at the Queen’s University Alumni Department part-time. This was my spending money. “Alex, if I do this, you know I need the money back right away. Well, I mean, you are gong to have to pay me back when I need it so I can pay my rent and bills, buy groceries etc. This is money I need to live off of.”

“Not a problem. As soon as I sell it, I can give you the money right back.” he said.

I lent him the money. It was a loan afterall. And he said he would pay me back. I trusted him. The rest of the week Alex had to take care of a couple matters regarding the accident.  He had to go down to the Kingston City hall. He asked if I could come with him and drive him back if he needed. “What do you mean?”

“I may need you to drive me out of the parking lot and back here after.”

“I don’t understand Alex.”

“Just come with me, I’m going now. Can you drive a Porsche?”

“Can I drive a Porsche? I have no idea if I can drive a Porsche. I’ve never driven one before. How would I know. It’s car isn’t it? I can drive stick.” My father had insisted on teaching my twin and I standard when we took our driving lessons. I grumbled under my mouth at the time, but I am and will be forever thankful he insisted we know how to drive standard whether we think we needed it or not. I love driving stick –  fast, with the music blaring. It drives me nuts to drive an automatic car. There’s no pick-up you know?  Aside from my parents teaching me to drive the car, it was also Alex in my late teens who spent hours in the Toy’R’Us parking lot and the back roads of Manotick teaching me to drive standard. I think I have a pretty smooth transition. “You know I know how to drive stick Alex.”

He smirked and gave me this – oh you’re so innocent you have no idea kind of look. “This isn’t a normal stick Kate.” “It’s a Porsche 911 Targa.”

“Yahh, yah, yah I know – whatever. Pretty car. Every guys dream car. I know. Why is it different to drive this standard car?”

He smirked again. “You’ll see. Can you do it or not?”

“You’re not really giving me any choice on the way there are you now?” I asked him if he wanted me to join him inside the courthouse for moral support. He said no, to stay outside. ‘What are you going in there for anyways Alex?”

“I gotta go. Just stay in the car.”

Great. Trapped in now my favorite car. How lovely. He was in there for about 40 minutes. I was thinking to myself this is ridiculous, I’m going in. I headed inside and saw him standing in the wooden pews in the courtroom. It was intimidating. The constable recognized me and seem to give a consoling look wondering if I was ok. She came to me and asked if I needed anything.  It felt like the look on her face seemed to suggest, why was I with this guy? She said something like, “You were in a really serious car accident Katherine. You know one of the constables remarked after seeing the way your car seemed to be projectiled into the hydro-pole it he had a pilot’s licence to drive that thing.”  Alex turned and came down the aisle and saw me. The constable  handed me her card. At first he seemed irked, but then he gave his normal sheepish smile. He said “let’s go. He seemed to be in a rush and looking everywhere around him paranoid. He was angry. He told me, “ok you do have to drive.”

I got into the driver’s side of the Porsche. The seat dropped way back and it was hard to reach the peddles. I started the car. The car stuttered and stalled. “Oh” I said, “this is a bit harder.”

“Try again,” he said. “You’re going to have to push all the way down on the clutch and just enough on the gas. It’s going to want to go quick, so don’t be scared about the big jump, just ease of slow”

I tried again. The car sputtered and stalled.
“The engine is so loud.”“Why is it so loud Alex?”

Alex was angry. “Just go again. No, actually let me drive get out and I’ll drive.”

“I thought you couldn’t drive out of here?”

“Ugh, I can’t. Fine, just go.” I tried it one more time. Zoom! Third times always a charm for me. God, its got pick-up! God it seemed to jump from 0km/hr to 40km/hr instantly. I can see why a strong majority of guys want to drive this car. It scared me. I thought it might jump to far forward and hit a tree or something! I kept easing on and off the gas to slow us down and we were inevitably jumping forward and backward like a first timer trying to learn stick. Heck, I didn’t even drive this unstable when I was learning stick!

“Turn the corner Kate and stop the car. I’m going to drive the rest of the way.”

“I thought you…”

Alex interrupted me. “Just get us out of the lot. I can’t let anyone see me drive off of the lot!” he yelled.

I was confused. I didn’t say anything on the short 5 minute ride home.

Alex stayed for a couple weeks. He said he had found a Porsche here in Kingston to buy and flip and he would need my money. I went with him to see this car I was buying. This Porsche. It was red. A little more modern 80’s Porsche. The grill sat real low that it was practically sitting on the road. Actually it was kind of tacky if you ask me. Alex said he would be able to flip it easily though. I bought the car. For a few days, I was the owner of a shiny red Porsche…that I never drove once.

{ to be continued… }

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This is the official link to my novel blog:

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Aways to go yet!
Kate

By Kate Flood
• 11:15pm • First “Write-In” at “Cafe Oh So Good”, Ottawa, ON
State of Being: Looking forward to more words. Listening to “Boards of Canada – Telephasic workshop.”

1/3 } Pilot’s Licence for a Porsche


{ Chapter 1 – Excerpt #3}

{ “The Porsche 911 Accident” }

Pilot’s Licence for a Porsche

“I explained we had been in a “bit” of an accident. “Bit” was an understatement to say the least. The pale description was also swallowed when the flatbed pulled up with Alex’s crumpled Porsche on it. That’s what it looked like. A crumpled Porsche.”

When morning came, I’m not sure if anyone had slept in the room at all. Wait, that’s not true. Perhaps my father did – he’s always been a good sleeper. Maybe he slept for all of us that night. I don’ think my mother slept much. I imagine I passed in and out. Kingston felt surreal in the morning. ‘Felt like the night hadn’t really happened. That this wasn’t really happening you know?  It was Saturday so no class for sure. I’m not entirely sure how the rest of the weekend unfolded. I know we returned to my University house I was sharing with 3 roommates. My friend Carrie who we had dropped off had actually been worried and wondered where we were. I can’t say enough how thankful I am we dropped her off. I explained we had been in a “bit” of an accident. “Bit” was an understatement to say the least. The pale description also was swallowed when the flatbed pulled up with Alex’s crumpled Porsche on it. That’s what it looked like. A crumpled Porsche. The mouths of my roommates dropped when they saw the car get dropped off outside my doorstep.You were in that Kate?” they said. “How did you get out? God, your so lucky to be alive.” They were right. You see, this was the first I would actually see the car. I couldn’t see when we spun out, when we stopped, when I got out and when I left – it was always pitch black. That’s when it hit me, just how lucky we were.

I forgave Alex right away. Not verbally, but as a matter of course, I never held him accountable. Afterall, it was an accident. He didn’t mean to do this. I don’t know why the car started to spin out. He wouldn’t do this on purpose right? I went home with my parents immediately to recuperate. I wasn’t moving very fast and was in quite a bit of pain in still in my mouth and leg. Alex came with us. My mother set me up in the tv room like she always did when one of is was sick. She was the best nurse. I don’t know another mother that sets up a “get better bay” like her. Alex stayed another night. I remember him talking to his bestfriend and his parents. He didn’t mention the accident. He said everything is fine when his friend asked why he needed to be picked up. I asked him why he didn’t say anything to his bestfriend and his parents. He said he was ready yet. That we would tell them in person. Looking back. I was too forgiving. Too kind. I should have seen the signs right then and there that the lies would continue, but I didn’t. I thought it was a reasonable answer.

I stayed home for one week. I was pretty wiped, but at 21 I had a lot of energy so one over takes the other. My father was worried about my studies and wanted me to return. I felt I had disappointed them both and that I was responsible for this car accident. I went back to school feeling guilty. Alex offered to drive me back. I was a little unnerved about this. Ironically, the courting part of our relationship – having grown up in the country and in compete opposite sides of the city – was driving in cars. And I used to tell him I never felt safer then I did driving with him through the backroads, summer wind in my hair (oh so cliché) and the soundtrack of our puppie-love blaring out the speakers of his Triumph Spitfire. God, I used to have my arms flailing out the window with the wind taken control of them screaming Where the Streets Have No Name at the top of my lungs. { FYIIt’s an excellent driving song! } But now, now I was reluctant. I hadn’t been in a car all week since I got myself out of his. I told him I’d take the train. He offered again and said it would be ok. I’d like to add here that our relationship was over. Way over. But we did that terrible train wreck thing with your first love where you go back and forth. I had known him now since I was 16 years old after meeting him at the summer camp where we were counsellors together. I had just celebrated my 21st birthday two weeks prior to the accident. We were phone buddies for 2 years before we tried dating.

He insisted he take me back to Kingston. “Alright” I said. Maybe he was trying to be chivalrous. You know, he got me into this mess and he’ll get me out, not wanting to trouble my parents kind of thing. I packed and got ready for school. My mouth was a mess. A tangled cut up mess with braces to match. I wasn’t exactly looking forward to hanging out in the halls of school again. I did know that I couldn’t miss more school and did want to get back for that reason. Alex would pick me up the following day. I told him I preferred to leave in the day before night fell so I could see the roads and feel safer. He said no problem. Flashback to my highschool prom and the excitement of wanting to show up in his convertible Spitfire as a treat. He showed up – late…in the beat-up camp pick-up truck. Oh, the signs. Why didn’t I pay attention to them? The autumn dusk was looming and Kingston was a 2 hour drive away ( although he managed it one hour and 25 minutes one time). I heard a horn honk in the driveway. It was Alex and it night had already fallen. I was relieved anyways for him to be there to take me back. I walked out to the car. As I came into the light of the cars reflection from the moon, I was confused. It was a Porsche. “Alex! Is this a Porsche? You’re kidding me. Alex! This isn’t funny. How can you show up here with the same car we almost died in last week? Where did you get this car?” “You’ll be fine Kate. Get it. It’s ok. I’ll drive slow.” he said reassuringly? “Alex! Please. This isn’t funny.” The emotions my body was going through were uncontrollable. There was no way in hell I was getting back into the same car on a 2 hour drive in the dark.” I felt bad for him. Showing up to take me back. But how could he show up the same make of car? A Porsche is no ordinary car right? I so reluctantly got in that car. I didn’t feel relaxed. I didn’t feel excited to be driving with him. I was on edge the whole time. It felt cold in the car. It was the last week of October and the cold front had started all ready.
“Alex, why is it so cold in the car?”
“Well, ” he smirked with a bowed head. “Actually, the heater’s don’t work.”
“Alex! That’s not cool. My feet are freezing. That’s not remotely funny Alex.”
And then the first snow started to fall on the highway…

Love to Hear From You • I would love to hear what you think. Write what you want { kind words } by clicking on the cute “comment” balloon above right or in the text~box below.
• You can also follow me on twitter { runninghearts } and
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This is the official link to my novel blog:

https://shiftstorm.wordpress.com

Aways to go yet!
Kate

By Kate Flood
• 8:33pm • At home by the fire and candle light
State of Being: Kind of peeved. Having a rum-and-coke and listening to “Tea in the Sahara” by The Police…”