Virtual Voices

Adventures in trauma

Essay

Injury and sudden fainting spells, if minor, can make excellent memories.

Take, for instance, the time I fainted in high school. It felt like nothing but nausea. It happened in my summer class for driver's education.

Two young women had come in to scare the daylights out of us by showing us a film made by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. In a strange way, I am grateful for the scare.

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It was July. I cringed behind my hand and wore a hot sweater. To the boy behind me I said, "I'm going to throw up."

I waited till I could wait no longer, then peeled off my sweater. I took up my notebook (because I took it everywhere, even when I went away to faint) and walked to the front of the room.

I didn't have time to get out of the room, so I fainted in front of the entire class.

My brother carried me out.

I sat in the hall with my head between my legs. The nurse and principal appeared with a wheelchair.

"You fainted," they told me.

"I did?" I said.

"I've always wanted to," I told principal and his tie. "I always thought it would be such a romantic experience."

After that I went home, ate rice, and watched Little Women. When I went to the doctor he told me I had good blood pressure and would live longer as a consequence.

When it ends as well as that, trauma does have an adventurous quality. It hints at a big story in which calamity results, somehow, in life rather than death.

I sat a moment ago beneath our streetlamp talking scars. Several students walked by and joined once they had heard the tenor of the conversation.

I keep telling how last week I stepped on a tack in my closet that punctured my foot as deeply as it could have. Its few centimeters went straight in, clear to its white base. I released it after four yanks, then hopped out to the dorm lobby with my bloody sock in hand.

Around the same time, said Ben, the maintenance department changed the hinge mechanism on the door to his wing so that it closed quicker than usual. It swung, hit his face, and blood ran down his forehead. And see these three scars on his finger? On the day he turned 8 he bought his first pocketknife and set out to build a bow and arrow. He has never seen another scar like this one, where you can still count every stitch.

My ankle, though, matches him. From the time the screen door closed on my ankle, each stitch remains visible.

Chaedon stops with a large black umbrella to say that he passed out in church one time.

But in church I once sat on a bee.

It's getting late, so we have to break it up. Ben shouts after us the tales of his wars with the hedge trimmer.

May we always have a person to carry us out of our calamities, and have thorough story celebration afterward.

Chelsea Kolz Boes
Chelsea Kolz Boes

Chelsea is an editorial assistant for God’s World News. She graduated from Patrick Henry College with a degree in literature. Follow Chelsea on Twitter @chelseakboes.

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