“You won’t do it,” Vera said.
“Stay low, Carrie,” I said. “Watch the ceiling. Superman across.”
Carrie crouched on her bed, bouncing side to side like a boxer. She looked nervous. I thought, This is what I love about college, just messing around.
“I’m gonna do it,” Carrie said.
Vera stood up on her bed. “Fine, move, I’ll do it.”
I knew Vera was calling Carrie’s bluff. Carrie knew it, too. But Carrie hated being told she wouldn’t do something. I once told Carrie she was stubborn for wearing sandals in twenty degree weather. She was only doing it because I told her to wear boots. She told me that she wasn’t stubborn. “I just do what I want,” she said.
Carrie’s bed, which is pushed up against the left side wall, runs parallel to Vera’s, which is pushed up against the right side wall. The space in between their beds, which Vera began calling a “canyon,” was littered with jackets, socks, underwear, notebooks, crumbs, and half-empty water bottles.
I’ve never been good at judging distance. I didn’t think it was that far from Carrie’s bed to Vera’s bed. I was surprised by how long Carrie had been stalling.
“Is it really that far?” I asked.
“Yes, it’s far,” Carrie answered. “I’m afraid I’m going to hit that bottom part.” She pointed to the wooden panel that stuck out beyond the mattress. “Can you cover that with my pillow?”
I tried to stick the side of the pillow in between the wooden panel and the bed board. But the pillow wouldn’t stay. Carrie sighed and jumped down from her bed. She isn’t very patient. She turned the pillow vertically and stuffed it under the mattress so it flapped down and covered the wooden panel. I hadn’t thought of doing it that way. She asked me if I felt dumb. I kind of did.
I said, “There’s no way you’re going to jump into the area that pillow is covering.”
Carrie kept saying she was afraid of hitting that wooden panel. I thought she was much more likely to hit her head on the ceiling, or over jump the bed and ram into the wall.
I started to get a little bit nervous. The music had been playing on Vera’s lap top for a while, and Carrie still hadn’t jumped. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea after all. But it couldn’t be that far of a jump. She probably wouldn’t do it anyway.
“You’re being chased Carrie,” Vera shouted. “You have to jump, Carrie, jump over the canyon, there are worms at the bottom of the canyon!” Carrie has a very strange fear of worms. She cried one night as we walked to the library after a long rain. The ground was covered with worms.
“Jump, Carrie,” Vera said. Vera was relentless.
And then Carrie did it. She jumped. I want to believe that in that last second before she jumped, or at least in the moment she hurled through the air, that I was thinking, No, don’t do it. But I really can’t be sure. It either happened too fast or I just can’t admit that I wanted her to do it. I wanted her to jump.
Mid-air, as she approached the bed, she still had her knees close to her chest. She didn’t make it to the mattress. Not even close. Her leg smacked into the wooden panel and she fell backward. The pillow idea hadn’t worked after all. She started to roll around on the ground, hugging her knees to her chest, to the navy blue Milton soccer sweatshirt she always wore.
I looked at Vera. Her mouth was wide open, all her teeth showing. She was laughing in silence. I remember thinking, What is so funny about someone getting hurt? And then I burst into laughter, out loud. Vera caught on, and started laughing out loud, too. I kept waiting for Carrie to start laughing. It wasn’t the first time Carrie had fallen. She’s a soccer goalie who walks with her feet pointed outward. She falls a lot, actually. She always laughs it off. Eventually.
She uncovered her leg and I saw the blood, gushing blood. Vera later claimed that it was spurting out of her shin, “Like a fountain.” I didn’t see that. But maybe she was right. The blood spread around the room pretty well. There was blood on the plaid lining of Vera’s puffy North Face jacket, on the carpet, on the white lettering of Carrie’s sweatshirt, above her right eyebrow, along both her thighs and shins, and on a piece of paper that Vera picked up and put on top of her bookshelf. Vera was probably keeping it as a souvenir to show off. She was so mad that her camera wasn’t working. She couldn’t even take a picture of the wound. Luckily, her batteries kicked in a few minutes later and she was able to get several snapshots.
I stopped laughing when I saw the blood. I reached for the maroon towel that lay on the floor, the one’s with Vera’s initials on it. I knew she wouldn’t care. I brought the towel to Carrie’s shin.
“We have to call Campo,” I said.
“No,” Carrie said. “I don’t have time for this. I’m fine.”
“Carrie, you have to go,” Vera said. “I can see your bone.”
“I think you need stitches, Carrie,” I said. “You at least have to get it cleaned up.” I didn’t think you could really see the bone, but it was hard to tell with all the blood that was welled up in the hole on her right shin. Its surface area was about the size of two quarters.
My roommate Liz couldn’t believe that I had let Carrie attempt such a dangerous jump. “Kiki, you’re a terrible buddy,” she said. We had just been in Miami the week before, using the buddy system. Naturally, I was Carrie’s buddy. We always tended to stick together during nights out at school. Carrie wasn’t always what you would call an easy buddy. She took some managing, but she was worth it. I wouldn’t have wanted anybody else.
I used to think of myself as a pretty good buddy. As she left with Vera, Liz, and a campus police officer to go to the hospital, I wasn’t so sure. I typed a note for her on Facebook as soon as she left.
carrie glass – im sorry. please don’t look for a new buddy. let me make it up to you. you know no one adores you quite like i do. i love you. – kiki
I submitted my post to her wall and then decided to add,
p.s. im also sorry for laughing