High Places, II
At one point he came around the corner and cried. It was hard standing up. His knees and hands bled. His lip hurt too-- he bit it after the crash. And at last after what felt like hours, when nobody was looking, his tears finally fell and he looked at his red palms.
Why, he wondered, did he decide to climb to the very top of the slide, stand up on the last wrung, and hold his hands over his head for ten Mississippis? Anyway, if it meant that Nicky would stop teasing him, stop calling him "freckles", stop poking him in the side, it was almost worth it. So he did it. And look what happened: after he did it, he tripped and fell.
It was an ugly, clumsy fall. Head first down the slide on his chest, his hands the brakes, his knees and feet bumping and scraping like a caboose. After he hit bottom his world was silent. And then when he was breathing again, there was pain and the blood. But he said nothing. He just limped away, shaking his head.
Later in the kitchen under the bright fluorescent light, his mother overcame her initial alarm and peered closely at his hands and knees. She wanted an explanation of what on earth had happened. When none was forthcoming, she insisted on cleaning and bandaging. The mercurichrome burned, as did the cleaning, but it didn't really matter. She would tell his father about this when he got home.
Special thanks to the NChatham Group.