BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.
"Muugh," I moaned, fumbling around for my phone and managing to slap it off after one or two tries. The difficulty was enhanced by the fact that it was hiding somewhere in the bag hanging off the edge of my bed. It's too early for this crap!
"Morning," TD said blearily from the other side of the room. Naturally, he was already up. The ROTC apparently required waking up at ungodly hours as part of their training regimen, which was one of the many excellent reasons I'd never bothered to sign up. You may note, however, that being "cheerful" at said hours was completely optional.
Anyway, I didn't bother to reply. TD knew quite well that I never really fully woke up until after I'd showered. I rolled over to get up--
--and fell out of bed.
I was halfway down before I remembered that I slept in a lofted bed—the knowledge doing little good to slow my descent. However, my body was already on top of things, twisting to get my feet under me--
"OW!" I yelled.
TD paid little attention. My morning routine involved some version of this fall. He did, however, notice when I tried to stand and promptly collapsed again. "You okay?"
"I caught my foot on the edge of my chair," I gritted out, trying my weight on my right foot again. It held, albeit shakily. Something felt really weird, though.
Now he was mildly concerned. "You need to go see a nurse or something? I can drive you..."
"Heck no," I said indignantly, grabbing my shower supplies and limping out the door.
"This is a one-time offer!" TD yelled after me. "I'm not carrying your butt anywhere later!"
I rolled my eyes. "I'm fine," I growled back, making a mental note to come up with some way to get my bunk back down to the floor.
The next morning, it was immediately evident that I wasn't fine. My foot hurt enough to remind me to go down the ladder, but my ankle gave way about halfway down and dumped me on my butt regardless. I was too tired to even say ow, crawling over to the computer to look up the nearest chiropracter.
Go figure, it was a mile away. I memorized the location and resolved to visit him as soon as classes were over.
The walk there was lovely—the late September still warm enough for me to wear shorts. I probably would have, regardless; my backpack weighed about a thousand pounds. My computer, JARVIS wasn't exactly a lightweight. It didn't take me terribly long to get there; only about as long as it took me to fill out all the freaking paperwork the secretary gave me. What is it about medical professions and paperwork, anyway?
Doc greeted me with an enthusiastic handshake when I finally finished. "What's up? Need an adjustment?"
"Probably," I admitted. "I fell out of my loft and caught the edge of my foot on my chair when I was trying to land. It bent it pretty hard and it feels weird."
Doc shrugged. "Probably a sprain."
I gave him a slightly indignant look. "I know exactly what a sprain feels like, thank you! This is different."
He laughed. "Well, let’s take a look. College kid?"
"Yepp. First semester here," I told him. "I'm going for mechanical engineering."
He gestured me to sit on the table. "Ever been to a chiropractor before?"
"Pretty much my whole life," I told him. "I was always wrecking stuff."
"Somehow, that doesn't surprise me," Doc snickered as I started removing my shoe. "Which dorm are you in?"
"Matthews," I answered. "I walked from the library, though."
"If you can walk that far, it's probably not ba—oh, good Lord!"
I cocked an eyebrow at him. "What?"
"When did you injure this?" he demanded.
"Yesterday morning. Why?"
"And you walked all the way here..." Doc shook his head in disbelief. "Are you insane?"
"You stumbled upon that conclusion faster than most people," I remarked. "So, what's wrong with it?"
He took a breath. "You know how you have a few bones in your ankle?"
"I've always suspected as much. I was never terribly good at anatomy."
He rolled his eyes. "Well, long story short, none of them are where they're supposed to be."
I took a moment to contemplate that. "You mean I've dislocated my ankle."
"That's a mild way of putting it, but essentially, yes." He sighed. "Okay, here's what's going to happen. I'm going to reset it, then you are going to call a friend to come pick you up, and—hold on a second." He disappeared down the hall for a few moments. "Dang it, I don't have any. Here, you're gonna have your buddy drive you to Walmart, where he's going to get you this brace here." He showed me a picture of it on his phone.
I studied it with interest. "Seems simple enough."
"And you're going to ice it and stay off of it as much as possible for two weeks," he instructed me sternly.
I grinned. "Of course."
"Not two hours, two weeks," he ordered, eyeing me. "No running, skipping, parkour..."
I wrinkled my nose. "You're fast."
"I was your age once, too," he admitted. "Okay, this might hurt..."
I watched the resetting operation with a maximum of interest and a minimum of actual swearing, learning a lot about how that general region worked in the process. Fleetingly and irreverently, I wished I would be able to reset an ankle sometime. It really didn't look that hard.
Doc helped me down off the table and escorted me to the door. I thought he was actually gonna wait for me to call someone, but another patient came in and he got distracted. I took the opportunity to quickly pay and sneak out.
I did take a moment to think if anyone was available, but the only person I could think of who wasn't in class at the moment was Courtney, and I was fairly positive she didn't have a car. Besides, my foot felt a lot better, so I shouldered my backpack and started walking. Walmart was a mile away from my dorm...in the opposite direction.
My phone rang right as I was dropping off my backpack in my room. I answered it automatically. "Yo."
"RADAR, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING??"
I winced and turned down the volume. "Hi, Ma. Thinking about...I'm sorry, what are you talking about?"
"Why were you at a doctor's office?" Mom demanded. "They called to verify some of your information! Why didn't you tell me you were hurt? What happened?"
"I just torqued my ankle out a little," I reassured her. "No big deal, just a little uncomfortable. Doc set me up with a brace and everything. I'm fine." (I didn't tell her that I had to go pick up the brace yet. No point in freaking her out...more.)
"Okay," Mom said, sounding marginally calmer. "Just make sure you tell me when you get hurt, got it?"
I grinned. "I thought the rule was 'no blood, no notification.'"
"That's for when you're home," Mom said, sounding a little put out. "It's different when you're at college and going to the doctor."
"Technically, it was a chiropracter," I couldn't help interjecting.
"Whatever. Be careful!"
"Got it. Bye."
I hung up, a little guiltily. Didn't know they were going to CALL her. I sighed and headed out for Walmart. Halfway there, I got a call from Kyle, reminding me of the flag football game scheduled for tonight. I told him I'd be there and hung up.
To be fair, I'd been planning to show up and support the team. As it turned out, we had just enough guys to play—if I played. I decided not to tell anyone about my foot and relied on the brace to keep my ankle together. Since no one ever threw the ball to me anyway, I figured it wouldn't be a problem.
We scored pretty quickly. I started having fun, completely forgetting about previous injuries. When it was our turn for defense, I volunteered for the line, a decision my teammates heartily supported. Being skinny and fairly quick, I was a major annoyance to the other teams we'd faced in the past. I'd perfected a plant-twist move that usually got me past the opposing line and in the quarterback's face. Sometimes, I'd even get a sack.
Our team lined up, me on the right side of the line. The center snapped the ball; as soon as he moved, I exploded sideways, planting hard on my right foot and shoving off around the end.
Well, that's what was supposed to happen, anyway. What actually happened was that my foot stopped, but my ankle kept going. I yelped and wiped out. Fortunately, it didn't matter—Ben smacked down the quarterback's pass.
Kyle came over. "Hey, you okay?"
I glared at my ankle. "This brace doesn't do crap." I yanked it off, followed by my shoe.
Kyle turned a little green. This time, it was immediately evident that there was something wrong. "Come on, let's get you off the field!"
"No!" I snapped. "We'll lose by forfeit. Just—call a time-out for a moment."
Kyle called a time-out. I studied my foot. Let's see, if I remember right...this would go here, and this goes here, so...
I positioned my hands, took a deep breath, and yanked sharply. There was an audible crunch, followed by several distinct pops as I rotated my foot to finish the job. I looked up to see Kyle visibly trying to not be sick. "See? All good?" I put the brace back on, cinching it as tight as I could. "Although...you may want to put me on the left side of the line."
"You're crazy," Kyle announced, shaking his head and waving for time-in.
"Boy, everyone's figuring that out today," I muttered under my breath, lining up. The opposing team had seen the whole thing and clearly didn't see me as a threat anymore, a notion I promptly squashed by immediately sacking the quarterback (I used my left leg to plant that time).
Needless to say, we won.
I'm just kidding, we lost to a Hail Mary pass in the fourth quarter. But at least we didn't lose by forfeit.