Day 23 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Write about a seemingly bad situation that turns into a positive life change.
Erin: “How have you gotten to be where you are today,” the interviewer asked her broad and open-ended question.
“The biggest driver of my success has been resilience,” I gave my broad and open-ended answer. To be honest I frequently liked to test the skills of the interviewers I encountered. Being too talkative wouldn’t challenge them.
“How so,” her game was weak. She seemed too nice for me to continue on though, so I decided to make life easy on her and open up.
“This all started with my 6th concussion. I was dead set on playing college ball, and made sure to be back on the field quickly and as consistently as possible.”
“What sport did you play,” she clearly had not done her research.
“Football. My doctor recommended that I quit however. I was playing varsity as a freshman and we were a shoo-in to go to regionals. I couldn’t give up that easily,” I remembered back to my emotions that day.
“What did you do,” she interrupted my flashback.
“There was a chance that my brain could be permanently damaged if I continued, so my mother demanded that I quit. With my plan to go pro my brain didn’t seem to matter, but as a minor her opinion was the only one that mattered.”
“What does that have to do with resilience? Did you find a way to play?”
Her interest in the story was becoming slightly adorable, “Not quite. I hated my mother for ruining my chance at the NFL. I had to channel my anger somewhere and that place was the piano. Now I see how important a healthy mind is and I know how much more passion I have for music than I ever did for sports.”
“Wow,” her jaw hung open. She looked like a cartoon.
“I called my mom to thank her when I released my first album.” She giggled. “I used to think getting back up was resiliency, but resiliency is actually knowing when the universe is telling you to stay down and reach for other dreams. Having the strength to change direction is sometimes, if not most of the time, more noble than having the strength to struggle through.”
Shannon: “Maybe you’re not meant to be a singer. You don’t have the look. You have a basic voice. Maybe it’s time to consider another career,” the casting director advised with a straight face.
“So what are saying? I should try out for acting-only roles,” I hoped he’d give me some genuine advice.
“Do you want my honest opinion?”
My mind was screaming no, but my head nodded. I wanted the opinion of a person in his position, but I didn’t want to be discouraged if he was wrong about me.
“If I were you, I’d stop auditioning completely. Stop wasting your time. It’s not going to happen. I’ve seen a lot of young girls like you stick with this until they burned out with nothing to show for it. Life can be a lot easier if you stop chasing an unreachable goal.”
I tried to hold back, but the tears were building up, “But there’s nothing else I want to do,” I shrugged, hurt. “What am I supposed to do?”
“You’ll figure it out, and you’ll be surprised. I’m sorry, but we have more auditions and your time is up. Good luck,” he was still stern, but honest, and even though it was hard to hear, I believed him. No more auditions.
Once I walked out the theater into the fresh air I considered going home to cry and pity myself, but I’d done that enough already in life. I wanted to know where I was going. I wanted to find my new passion, my new love. The world was open to me. More open, I suppose, than it was for the people who already knew who they were.
I still wanted to spend my days singing, but I didn’t know who my audience was going to be anymore. As I walked downtown I paid more attention to the world to around me. I started a list in my head as I encountered people to sing to: people in bars, people at weddings, people in parks, animals, even objects.
I sat down at a bench in the park to take out the ukulele I choose to audition with to try to stand out. I just started playing. I didn’t want money, or to get noticed, or to simply have one person finally hear my song. I just sang, and belted it without any fear someone could stop me to tell me they’d heard enough. It felt good to go on uninterrupted, and to do it for myself. I felt happy, like I was actually doing what I loved. After I strummed my final note, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.
Look on the bright side of the prompt.
Rowdy rock music echoed off the faces of suburban houses as I screamed down the backroad. In the back of my mind I was still at my boyfriend’s tiny apartment as my tires spun against the blistering pavement. His smoky living room swam into view as the truck veered towards a line of parked minivans and eco-efficient cars dangerously. Righting the beast I kept my eyes on the tie-died horizon sky.
Indigo spilled into saffron and tawny rust before meeting blood-red sky just above the mountain range. As I hit the gas a little harder, the engine whining to be heard over the music, the last bit of sun fell behind the cut out skyline. There was a sense of freedom and ease of breath as the last house passed me by; fields spread out to the forest on one side and as far as the eye could see on the other. Out here no one would tell me to turn the tunes down.
But my heart felt heavy as I sped, drifting, along in the twilight. When I saw a break in the wheat I braked as hard as the ancient vehicle would take and parked on the open road. Jumping out, keys still firmly in the ignition to keep the rock music blasting, I wandered aimlessly along a disused trail until I couldn’t see the rusted metal truck frame in the distance.
I dropped to my knees in the dry dirt, staring up at the emerging stars. Somewhere in the density of the crop something moved but I didn’t notice it. Taking in a deep breath of fresh air I screamed into the night, “He will not define me! I don’t need him!” But the tears had already begun to carve rivers down my cheeks. Relaxing back on my heels I gently cradled my head in my hands as the silent sobs rocked me.
There was something so stupid and fragile about the human heart that made me so mad sometimes. The reason I’d been sitting on Ben’s stained brown sofa, sipping his horrid malt liquor was that he was going to ask me to move in. But in perfect Ben fashion he didn’t ask; he told me. When I said I’d have to think about it he’d slapped me across the cheek and sat in his tired armchair like it was nothing. For us, that was almost nothing; he’d done far worse.
I blame myself for staying with him all this time. When I gently brushed against the angry red spot under my eye and pain blossomed across my face I forgot about the horrible things he’d do when he got drunk. The refuge of physical pain felt better than the emotional hell he’d put me through.
Tonight after he hit me I’d had enough. Storming to the door I’d told him I wouldn’t be coming back. When I got in the truck I didn’t even know where I was going; I just drove. Here, in the middle of nowhere, was a perfect place to be alone and still. As the cold wind rushed through the crops a chill went up my spine; it was too quiet out here.
Stumbling back toward the truck I heard the faint melody as I got closer, the wind making writhing waves out of the wheat stocks. I could see the truck only when my heavy boots stepped onto solid pavement. Deliberately not wiping the dust from my jeans I struggled into the high cab and settled into the worn leather bucket seat. For a moment I just took in the fresh scent of the wind wafting into the hot metal beast as she belched bass, drum beats and wailing guitar chords back into the night air.
I didn’t even see Ben’s shiny blue pick-up roaring up behind me at full-speed.
Waking up under the brilliant fluorescent lights in an uncomfortable bed I took a deep breath. Beside me various machines whirred and beeped with my vitals, getting a gradually faster as I became more aware of myself. Somewhere down the hall a siren went off and sent me into near-panic. Half a dozen nurses in scrubs shot past my door as a woman dressed in a maroon sweater and dress pants wandered in, not seeing me, and turned to watch where the emergency was. Obviously not finding any interest in them she clicked toward my bed in her heels and put her purse down in the chair.
“Mom?” I whispered, realizing I had a voice.
When she looked at me her face lit up; the lines around her eyes and lips creased as she smiled in relief. Sighing she bent to hug me while sputtering, “Iris, you’re okay. They weren’t sure.” She held my shoulders when she pulled back, looking me over with her keen eyes and clucked faintly. Lightly she touched one cheek with her manicured finger and pain shot through my skin. Seeing the wide-eyed look on my face she drew her hand back sheepishly.
Shyly she spoke to the floor, “What do you remember? They say you had a concussion,” she stated, also to the ugly tiles. There was a moment where she looked up into my eyes and I struggled to grasp for any semblance of an accident.
Opening my mouth and closing it a few times I finally settled on a last memory, “You drove me to Diana’s birthday party.” I searched my mind for specifics about the party and gushed, “She had a princess theme with lots of presents and three cakes and games. Oh, and pony rides and her dogs almost chased the pony away.” When the smile spread on my lips I turned to see horror plastered on my mom’s face. “What is it?” I asked, concern permeating my tone.
She sighed shakily and spoke plainly, “That was three years ago, hon.” Struggling to hold it together she walked into the hall and didn’t return for half an hour. I was left, stuck in a bed, to worry about not remembering the last three years of my life.
When my mother came back she informed me that I’d had a car accident, while I was driving. Some yahoo I knew from school had run into the back of my truck, pushing me straight into a telephone pole. Apparently he was sitting in jail because he’d done it on purpose. He seemed like a pretty bad dude; they also charged him with multiple assault claims by his ex-girlfriend.
A decade later I was married to a wonderful man and we had two lovely children in a comfortable house in the suburbs and all I knew about Ben was that he’d hit the wrong truck that night.
The air bag flowered out as I faceplanted into the steering wheel. Metal crunched together as the front end of my car was smashed by the big semi truck as my legs become cocooned in a metal coffin, I couldn’t feel where they went other than pain lanced up through my thighs. Groggily, I tried to pull my legs out, bent steel crumpled flimsily around me. The car door also similarly jammed. Traffic passed on normally, the callus A.I.’s ignoring me as they drove on in their automated patterns.
A spherical silvery orb descended from the murky starless night. A singular cold ice blue optic stared at me before it spoke. “Diagnosis: You have suffered extreme trauma to the lower abdomens and chest.” It chirped. “Query: Would you like to opt into our new premium medical membership starting at $250.00 a month?”
I coughed. “What?” I pointed to my legs. “I’m freaking trapped here! Send an ambulance! Something!” I tugged at my leg to no avail as pain bolted up. “Yeeeow!”
The orb beeped angrily. “Statement: Do not attempt to free yourself. You will cause yourself more bodily harm than intended.” It hummed, levitating. “Explanation: You are being given an exclusive first month of our medical membership as part of a initiative to showcase our new options. You however must agree to the following.”
Groaning, I scream out in frustration. “I agree damn it! Now please help me!” Half sobbed as the I could see the colour of my legs turning purple.
It binged happily. “Confirmation: Excellent! Emergency services have been requisitioned! Thank you and enjoy your medical health care experience!”
“Screw you.” I muttered but the robotic orb blissfully ignored me. The sound of sirens began to thrum somewhere out of my view. I lean back in my chair; a fiery needle being drilled into the back of my head as my sight dimmed.
The gentle pulse of a heart rate monitor woke me. I stirred, the rough touch of paper veil of my hospital gown agitating me. Without thought I swung myself off the bed, the hydraulic hiss of my legs accompanying me.
Wait a minute. Hydraulic hiss?
I glance down and nearly shout in surprise. My lower calves replaced by smooth silvery replacements. I took a step forward, listening to the electric hum of my new legs. A pink robotic orb with a childlike white cap floated in. A feminine voice smoothly spoke out. “Do not be alarmed dear human, your new enhancements will take time to adjust to.” It’s warm red eye looked over me. “It seams you have adjusted very well, how are you feeling Mr. Murphy?”
I beamed. “Great! I feel better already! How much for the bill?”
The robot giggled. “Oh, you’re on our premium membership list. All operations are free of charge.” I start walking towards the door of the room. The robotic nurse stopped. “Mr. Murphy, are you sure you want to leave? You haven’t gotten used to your new enhancements.”
I call over my shoulder as I exit through the door. “I’ll get used to them as I go!” The door closed behind me.
Created to Write:
Chris Sallow leaves the tall building, with his inventions behind him. Another company loves his designs, but refuses to adhere to his ethical code of production and use.
He groans once he sits in his car, the inventions stored in the back. Pinching the bridge of his nose, he wonders what happened to the world.
He scrapes together what he can for his son, and for his niece who is living with them. His son grows to love his father’s side work, but his niece gains powers that neither men know how to help with.
Years later, he provides tech for the team that helped Jacey gain better control of her abilities, and gave her and his son Rick friends that they can be themselves around.
And through that, he meets a man named Danny Rand, who is interested in everything he has to offer with tech, and has the same ideals as the older inventor.
Some things take time, but they are so worth it.