Joining the others on the church prep team, I collected what tools I could find, and headed up the mountain to prepare for the next day’s conference. I wanted to be sure we had enough firewood to last for the two nights we’d camp, as well as to clear the ground for everyone’s bedroll. If we finished our preparations in time, we could lend a hand to the other counselors.
All was going according to plan; even the morning sun was warm enough to shed that outer layer sweatshirt or jacket. Laughing, teasing shouts and lots of singing echoed through the campground. It was impossible to know just how far the breezes carried the racket down the mountain, but the joyful noise was no doubt brightening up the areas where the sound did travel.
Elaine and I cleared our assigned camping spot, pulling all weeds and smoothing out the ground with hoes and rakes. We allowed enough room for all of her high school buddies as well as my university friend and I to drop our rolled out bags around the encircled depression, where a campfire would be made to warm us part of the night, at least. We set apart a place for our ever-growing stack of firewood, including kindling and sticks, branches and logs of increasing size. It needed to be far enough away from the flames to ensure embers wouldn’t catch anything on fire, but close enough to get hold of when needed. I kept the matches and scraps of newspaper we would use to start the fire with my gear. Okay, I trusted the girls, but, well, kids can be kids and things can happen when they get to messing around, right? Not likely any of them would rub two sticks together to start a fire that was not authorized.
By mid-afternoon, we were all getting pretty tuckered out. Elaine looked at me for direction. “Just one more load of the large logs, and I think we can call it quits.”
"Okay, but how ‘bout we put them on this piece of plywood over here and drag them back to our camping space? That way we could carry a lot at one time.”
“Great idea; help me pile on the logs over there that John cut for us.”
The load was a lot heavier than either of us had expected it to be. In fact, I couldn’t really pull it alone. Elaine was a good sport about it…after all, it had been her idea, right? I grasped the corner on the left side of the flat sheet of plywood and Elaine took the right. We lifted it up slightly and began to tug with all our might. Inch by inch we made our way to the assigned spot. Several feet before reaching the clearing, my hand slipped just as my right foot lifted off the ground. Down went the plywood, and searing pain shot up my right leg. I stifled my cry because I didn’t want to alarm Elaine.
“Elaine, help me lift this thing off my leg, would you? I can’t believe I dropped it so close to the end of the path.”
Elaine slowly set down her corner and stepped over to grab on to the board near my hand. “Yikes, that’s heavy and must hurt, doesn’t it?”
“Yes, a little bit. Let’s just get it off and finish up. It’s time to head down the mountain before it gets too chilly and we’re late for supper.”
But, it wasn’t that easy to move the board, even with both of us tugging. “I’ll just run these logs on over to the pile so it’s easier to lift. Or should I go get John?”
“No, we can do this ourselves. I’ll wait for you to take a few of the logs off and we’ll try again.”
Elaine was quick about freeing the board but still we couldn’t move the board off my leg. This was totally puzzling since there weren’t any more logs on it. Each try sent fiery pain throughout my leg. Of course, Elaine stopped pulling every time she saw me wince; we were getting nowhere.
"Okay, look, let’s just give one mighty pull straight up. Pull on three, as hard as you possibly can, Elaine.” Since it was behind me, I had only one useable arm with which to power my efforts. “On three. One…two…three!” Ripping of flesh was the sensation I felt as I tried hard not to let my howls escape my clenched lips.
“Wow, look at that, Sojourner! That nail must be, at least, three inches long! Are you all right?” The entire nail had sunk into my Achilles tendon. The swelling began immediately upon removal of the mini-stake. The small flow of blood was not a good sign, infection could set in.
“Yeah, I’ll be fine. Once I get home, I’ll put ice on it and it’ll be right in the morning. Don’t worry; I’ll be here tomorrow!” Good grief! Where had that nail come from and why hadn’t I checked the backside of the plywood before stacking wood on to it? Too much in a hurry, no doubt. It had taken a bit of talking to get the church leadership to let the high school girls camp outside for the conference and not join the kids in the lodge for the night. I just couldn’t let them down. Without me, they’d be in the lodge.
I clowned around to hide the real trouble as I hobbled back to the car. The truth was that I was totally unable to bend my ankle. The tendon might well be severed.
****Faith Not My Own, Scene 2, Next Post