Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Post #3: How I Got the Scar on My Chin

Just breathe. Stay calm.

The wind burns my face. September isn’t supposed to be this cold.

Stay calm. Everyone else is. You can’t make a fool of yourself already. You just started this school three weeks ago!

Everyone else looks calm.

Don’t look down! Don’t think about falling!

I look down. My stomach lurches.


I look around. Everyone ahead of me looks like they’re riding with ease. I can imagine that everyone behind me is struggling to ride their own bikes at the turtle-like pace I’ve created for them.

Come on, Whitney. You learned to ride when you were 6!

My mind begins playing devil’s advocate with itself.

But… you also haven’t been on a bike in years!

I try to push those negative thoughts out of my head, but they keep wedging their way back in. I feel my hands shaking as they grip the handles with an iron grip. Am I really that cold? Maybe I’m just that nervous.

I’m surrounded by people I just met. If this was last year, in grade six, I could have handled it. I knew those people for eight years, since we were four! Now I’m in a new school and I barely know these people. I can’t make a fool of myself. It’s barely a month into grade seven.

I keep pedaling. We’re on the side of the highway, riding towards the biking trail. It’s supposed to be the ‘beginner’s’ trail that we’re headed to. I can barely pedal straight on the paved shoulder of the road – how am I supposed to navigate through branches, rocks, and dirt?

Without warning, I hear it behind me.

Don’t fall. Don’t fall. Don't fall!!

A glossy yellow car zooms past us, barely two feet away from the edge of the road. I can’t move. If I move left, I hit a car. If I move right, I hit the edge of the road – gravel instead of pavement. And then there’s that drop into the wooded area…

The next thing I see isn’t the road. It’s that steady drop I just wasted my time thinking about.

What do I do? I’m falling!

I see the trees. I see the boulders that edge the side of the highway. I’m still on the bike. Is that a good thing?

I open my eyes.

Well, that’s strange. I don’t remember closing my eyes.

Now the trees are in front of me, right at my feet. And so is the bike. How did that get in front of me? I twist my neck up and around to see the people on the top of the hill. The people who didn’t just fall off the highway.


My new friend Mat yells to me. I see him. He’s off his bike and he looks worried. Did everyone see me falling? I remember screaming as soon as I turned off the road. Maybe everyone turned to watch it all play out?


The owner of the camp we’re staying at comes running. “Don’t move your body! Don’t move your neck!”

Oh, she wants to see if I broke my neck. Awesome.

I move.

Good, I guess my neck isn’t broken.

She leaps through the boulders that I just crashed my bike down, coming to rescue me. I’m nearly already on my feet. I know I didn’t break my neck, there’s no need to continue laying there surrounded by rocks and dirt.

“Are you ok? That was a pretty big fall. Good thing you have your helmet on!” She looks worried, but I can tell she’s pretty relieved. She probably didn’t want yet another injury occurring under her watch. My best friend broke her arm when we were camping there last year.

“I’m fine... I’ll be fine.” I don’t even care about the bike. I don’t care about what’s happening. I want everyone else to leave, to continue on their bike ride and stop looking at me – the girl who can’t even pedal a bike straight.

“You’re bleeding. We’ll have to get you bandaged up. Can you walk back to the main cabin with Mrs. Favreau?”


She carries the bike back up to the side of the road, making sure I get a sturdy grip on it before she calls to the rest of the students to continue following her to the biking trail.

I look at the teaching assistant, Mrs. Favreau. She smiles and then removes a Kleenex from her pocket to dab at my chin, which apparently is bleeding quite badly.

First month of grade seven and I’ll have a Band-Aid on my chin. Ugh.

“So, think you can walk the bike back to the cabin?”


I start walking the bike, still looking down in embarrassment. After a few steps, I notice the bike’s front tire is almost knocked off the axle and is now spinning with a noticeable waving motion. I can’t help but crack a smile.

At least the bike is hurt, too.


  1. Whitney, I like your title, it quickly introduces what you are going to be talking about and allows you to get right into the moment of action without any lengthy explanation. I also like how you SHOWED and didn't TELL what happened using lots of active verbs as opposed to passive. For example "She leaps through the boulders".
    I like how you let the reader find out more and more information about your situation gradually and did not just explain plot aspects all at once: like the fact that this is when you were in grade 7.
    It was cool how the reader gets right into your thought process, which is much more affective in setting the scene then just telling us you were worried about falling etc. Being able to read your thoughts also sets the tone as a worried kid, who is anxious on many different levels: of falling, or making a fool or herself, etc.

    Good Job :)

  2. Wow, that must have been a doozy! I notice that your writing has a very human quality to it. Even though this is a story about you, it effectively puts me there as if it is happening to me. I also love your tone; "Oh, she wants to see if I broke my neck. Awesome." A little dark humor, i love it.

  3. Hey. I really liked this story. It was different. I liked how is went from what you were thinking to what was happening. I love how you were so worried about what other people were thinking and if they had seen you fall off your bike, you didnt even consider your injury. I really liked the last line "At least the bike is hurt, too." I like how it made you happy to see the bike injured as well. Good job. :)

  4. Hey Whitney,

    What I appreciated most about your writing was how it took the reader through the action. You are still able to narrate the events, but through your throughts, rather than a direct narrator. Sometimes you suspend the action with your throughts, which maintains interest.

    I also appreciate your honesty in your writing. I really enjoyed this piece.

  5. I really loved this story. It was funny and evocative, but above all (considering the purpose of these blogs), it was really really well-crafted. The dialogue and description and action are all very well thought out and the whole piece just really flows. Pretty much the highest praise I can give you is that while reading I totally forgot that I was supposed to be reading it critically for class and just really enjoyed it! The back-and-forth in your sub-conscious was my favourite, and a really innovative way of narrating the story. Keep it up!

  6. Whitney,
    I loved your use of dialog. The majority of your blog was in dialog demonstrating the whole “show don’t tell” concept. One suggestion it to not only show your pain of embarrassment but also your pain from your bloody chin. This was an awesome post!

  7. Hello Whitney!

    Great work! This was a very enjoyable read. You were able to really capture how much adolescents are concerned about appearances, especially when around a new group of peers. The self-conscious narration really helps keep the reader in the present. The ending, where you remark that aatleast the bike was hurt too, fits perfectly with the teenage sarcastic humor you employed. You are definitely a talented writer, keep it up!