“Dude, are you sure about this?” Cameron glanced around my meticulously clean room faintly illuminated by the light of his cell phone while I zipped up my hoodie and pulled on my Converse. His eye kept returning to the closed bedroom door. “I mean, what if your mom wakes up?”
“What’s she gonna do, kill me?”
“That’s not funny, Devin.”
“I know, I know, sorry.” I felt the chance slipping away. “C’mon, I just want to leave the bubble for a change. We’ll be back before my mom wakes up. She’ll never even know I was gone.”
“Yeah, OK, whatever. Van and Ryan are waiting in the truck.” Cameron cast one last look at the door. I slipped out the open window, and he followed.
We jogged to the Ford F-150 parked alongside my house, and I slid into the back of the cab. Ryan handed me a bottle of Budweiser. My meds don’t exactly mix well with alcohol, but that night, I didn’t care. I was breaking so many rules, anyway. I popped the cap and took a swig. It tasted like piss, I had to admit. So maybe I hadn’t been missing out all that much.
“Where to?” I asked. Van and Ryan exchanged a look.
Miles later, Van pulled up on the edge of the country club and golf course. Huh. OK then. Ryan grinned at my confusion. I got out of the truck with the rest of them and walked to where they gathered around the tailgate. Ryan plunked a huge block of ice into my arms, then reached back into the bed for a block for himself. I chuckled, finally realizing what we were doing.
The 12th hole had the biggest slope. Cam went first. He positioned himself at the top of the slope, sat on his block of ice, and pushed off. He whooped all the way down, his voice interrupted now and then by an unexpected bump, and he somehow ended up facing backward by the time he hit bottom. He rolled off the block and onto his back, laughing.
“Out of the way, idiot!” Ryan pushed off, and Cam had to scramble before being crushed by his buddy’s 200 pound body and a block of ice. Cam threw a play punch at Ryan, glancing off his shoulder, then grabbed his block and ran back up the hill before Ryan could retaliate.
“After you,” Van said. I felt buzzed, but I couldn’t tell if it was the one beer I had finished or the excitement from just being outside. I sat on my ice block and pushed off before giving it another thought.
I flew. The wind whipped my hoodie off my head and blew through my now-unhindered hair. The crisp air bit at my face. I tried to maneuver the block by shifting my body back and forth, uselessly, I discovered, because I somehow managed to hit every bump I was trying to avoid.
One last jolt at the bottom of the hill made me tumble off, and I lurched forward, my arms like a windmill as I struggled to keep from falling. I could hear the guys laughing at me from the top of the hill. I suppose I did look like a dork. But I didn’t fall. Look, Ma, no scratches.
We took turns sliding down the hill until the ice began to melt under my ass, soaking through my jeans, and my testicles curled up into tiny little raisins trying to get warm.
Maybe it was because we were all a little drunk, or maybe it was because we were having too much fun, but we didn’t notice the guy in uniform until he was right there, shining his flashlight at us.
“Hey! What are you kids doing?”
We took off running, and I could tell by the bouncing light from the flashlight that he followed. He must not have been in very good shape, though, because we easily put distance between us. Just ahead of us loomed a brick wall, not too high. Van reached it first and started to climb.
The wall had plenty of footholds, and I scampered up and over, adrenaline pushing me faster than I thought possible. I dropped to the other side, only realizing my mistake as the fall took longer than I expected.
The brick structure was a retaining wall, and the drop on the other side was a good ten feet or more. I hit the ground hard, feeling my ankle twist, and I fell forward, scraping my hands in the gravel and banging my knee. I breathed in sharply as the pain radiated through my body.
“Dude, are you all right?” Van knelt at my side, pulling on my hoodie to get me to sit up while Ryan and Cam tumbled over the wall beside us. I heard them yelp, too, and I hoped they didn’t get banged up too badly.
“Yeah, sure, I’m fine,” I said, waving Van off. I stood up but immediately buckled when I tried to put weight on my twisted foot.
“Shit,” Cam said. “We have to get out of here.”
He grabbed my arm and wrapped it around his shoulder, helping me stand. Van took my other side, and they helped me limp/run back to the truck. They shoved me into the back seat, and then we took off.
Everyone was silent on the ride home, everyone but Cam. He kept repeating, “Piss, piss, piss.”
“Look, it’s gonna be all right,” I tried to console him. “It’s merely a flesh wound.”
No one laughed. I sighed.
“You don’t even have to come in. This one’s on me. OK? Seriously, this one’s on me.” They didn’t argue.
We arrived at my house, and Cam and Ryan helped me hobble back to my bedroom window which we’d left open a crack. They shoved me through the open window, and I fell with a thud onto my bedroom floor.
I pulled myself up and collapsed into bed, not bothering to take off my clothes. I figured I’d just wait until morning and try to come up with some excuse by then. However, after an hour of agony, I knew I couldn’t wait until dawn.
I crawled down the hallway and into my parents’ bedroom.
“Mom? Are you awake? Mom? I, uh, I fell out of bed and hurt my ankle.”
My mother sat bolt upright in bed and switched on the light on her nightstand. Her hand flew to her throat as she looked at me, took in my condition – my rumpled clothes, the grass stains, the scratches on my hands and face, the tear in my jeans covered in a mixture of blood and mud, and the gash across my knee, the broken skin allowing all those germs to invade my unprotected blood stream.
Her voice trembled as she whispered, “No, no, no…Devin, how could you?”
“Mom, it’s OK. I promise it’s OK. It’s just…” Tears squeezed from the corners of my eyes, and it wasn’t only from the pain.
“It was the best night of my life.”
* * *
Today’s prompt is from a true story about my (not chronically ill) brother sneaking out in the middle of the night.