Sometimes we took a short cut walking to school. A rather dangerous short cut which went across the Spicket River. I’m talking about the winter time when the river was frozen. We could save five minutes this way.
It was around 7:15 in the morning. We had missed the school bus, so we were rushing. Sliding down the hill with the snow filling our boots wasn’t a concern. Even knowing that we’d be sitting in school all day with wet feet, we couldn’t take the time to be facetious.
So we ran and slid and ran to the frozen river. Again we ran and slid and slipped and ran until Sheila fell. She fell hard and cried out.
I knew immediately that something was terribly wrong because her cry was full of pain. I thought she had broken her arm or wrist, but she said it was her shoulder. I tried to help her get up, but she said not to touch her. She managed to stand and I carried her book bag.
We walked slowly to school and believe it or not, we prayed for a miracle. Sheila’s parents would kill her if they knew we walked across the river. We could never, ever, tell them. We prayed for her to be OK. We even stopped in St. Monica’s Church and prayed. We bargained with God. We promised to never cross the frozen Spicket River again if Sheila was healed.
Sheila said she thought the bargain worked because she felt better. I was hoping this was true because telling our parents we got detention for being late was nothing compared to telling them that Sheila got hurt when she fell on the ice crossing the frozen Spicket.
Unfortunately, God didn’t accept our bargain. During the morning, Sheila felt worse. Her shoulder and her whole upper body was in excruciating pain. She couldn’t fake being OK, any longer. She needed help. But we had to make up a story that didn’t get us in trouble. What would we say?
We couldn’t involve any people because that would get them in trouble. So I couldn’t have been with Sheila. That would involve two stories that might be different in the telling, when we were nervous. The story couldn’t involve falling in school because Sheila’s parents would sue the school, or wherever else she fell. We decided to say that she fell on a slippery sidewalk, while running to school, because she missed the bus.
That was the final story and she stuck to it. And I’ll keep the secret to my grave.