After my eyebrow hit the cement, hard, my right arm landed, then my ribs, and then, weirdly, my left knee. Or was that in reverse? I don’t know. I remember the yellow concrete and using the breath that had been expelled from my lungs to shout: “I’m OK, I’m OK”. I’m not sure who I was trying to assure, myself or Gary. I didn’t know I was bleeding above my eye but after I rolled over, I could see it in his eyes. They weren’t on mine, but sweeping across my body with that concerned look of a trained medic trying to triage. I lay there doing the same.
“I’ll tell you what hurts,” I said. Almost everything. We raised me off the ground, content that my back was unbroken. He brought his phone to my face and the white light of Apple’s torch scanned my pupils.
“P.E.A.R.L.,” he said.
Pupils are equal, round and reactive to light and accommodation. No Concussion.
“But,” he said, “I need to go to the pharmacy, so I can steri-strip your brow to prevent a scar.”
I didn’t want him to leave, but begged him to go — just so he could be back soon. He left, but only to the freezer to bring me ice. Ice for my knee, ice for my ribs, my arm. He placed frozen blueberries over my eye.
“Go,” I said. “
“We have time,” he said.
Tears rolled. Abruptness of the assault was over, vulnerability had come. He caressed my right shin — the only body-part that didn’t hurt.
“Come back soon,” I said.
He placed my phone on my chest and dialled my number from his. When mine rang he pressed answer then walked away.
“I’m right here,” his voice said.
I heard the garage door open, and him drive away.
“I’m just at the corner,” he said, “right by the site where they are building the new nursing home. Now, I am at the stop sign.”
I could hear the blinker, knowing he was waiting to turn left.
“If you didn’t want to walk with me,” he joked, “you could have just said so.”
I’d decided to pee before we’d left. Mid-stride my sneaker had stuck to the epoxy floor but my body had kept going.
“I’m not ready for humour yet.”
“I understand,” he said. “I’ve just pulled in. I’ll call you when I’m back in the car.”
I lay there, cocooned in ice, and schooled my brain to find the gift. This had happened for me, not to me. I got it. Instantly. I’d been busy: two weddings and a new house, a writer’s weekend. Under pressure to find an American agent for my memoir and a British one for my second book before packing for Antigua to sail our boat back to Florida. And in the midst of it all, I’d forgotten to relax, to breathe, to enjoy, to cut myself some slack and to cherish my beautiful, kind, adorable new husband and laugh like we used to.