The video faded to credits and I pulled the lid of the computer closed with that familiar magnetic click. My arm hurt. I let the aluminum rectangle slide to my left side where it caught between a fold in the blanket and my hip. I leaned back into the pillow and I’m sure an involuntary groan escaped through my lips.
“That looked interesting.” A nurse stepped into the room leading a wheeled cart of vials and medical implements in front of her. Her nametag read Gail. I could only see her now-familiar eyes which scream pity and the pink medical mask covering her mouth and nose buckled ever so slightly in sync with her lips as she spoke. “Was it you?”
“In the video?”
“Nah. It’s just some guy —” I shrugged weakly. The medication had dialed the sharp pain back to merely a dull ache. That ache was the various muscles in my back and neck waving a white flag. “— a channel I’ve been watching lately.”
“I need to take some more blood, okay?” Gail moved my laptop to the bedside table, careful to untangle the power cord from the safety rail. She prodded the space on the hospital bed beside me smoothing the blankets into a makeshift workspace for her collection of vials and labels she would need in a moment. Then, she took my arm with her hand and lightly touched around the intravenous tube with practiced fingers. She asked. “So — you’re an athlete right?”
“I guess. I run.” I replied but I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and think of my accident then correct myself. “I mean — I used to run.”
“I run, too.” The fabric of her mask implied she smiled, and with a nod she added. “Don’t worry. We’ll get you back out there.”
Neither of us said anything as she peeled printed sticker labels from a tear-off sheet and applied them to a small collection of glass tubes, the soft clicking noises filling the silence in the air.
“I do envy some of the people in those videos though.” She said finally as I watched her start to fill the vials one at a time with dark, red liquid draining from the tube in my arm. “You know — they’re out there doing it — right? Really living.”
“I tried that — “ I shrugged even while realizing I was only stoking the fires of her pity for me. Not a good look. “See where really living got me?”
Her eyes finally met mine. “You going to let a little tree branch swatting you in the arm stop you, then?” And when I looked away sheepishly and didn’t reply she continued. “I haven’t told anyone this — so if you tell Sasha out there I won’t be so gentle with your blood draw tomorrow —“ she winked. “— but last week I was out for my run and a wasp flew into the front of my shirt. She managed to wriggle under my bra and stung me good and hard — right here.” She tapped her chest over her heart at the top of her right breast.
I smiled, weakly.
“Not funny.” Her eyes flashed a fake scolding glare. “It hurt like hell — and I had an itchy welt there for three days.”
“And you got right back out there?” I teased. “Is that my lesson for today?”
Gale dropped the vials of blood gently into a pink plastic basket on her cart. “No lesson.” She shrugged. “I’m just saying that nature has it out for all of us — and there are plenty more boring ways to earn a scar than having a tree fall on your head.”
“Boring, no. Try embarrassing.” I corrected. “Or maybe just stupid.”
(cracking woods - part 02)
Gaige Gildon is a fictional trail runner who lives and trains in Edmonton. After a trail accident, he quit his tech job in 2019 to focus on his recovery and his passion for outdoor adventure. In 2021 he partnered with The Cast Iron Guy blog to write and post about his upcoming pan-Canadian multi-sport trip.