Name: Steph Schmidt
Genre:Young Adult, Contemporary
Having bangs is one of the lesser known impossibilities in golf. I should have known better than to let the person who normally cuts my hair talk me into bangs. Frame my face? Nah, they ended my life. Okay they didn’t end my life—just a promising junior golf career.
The first sign they were trouble was later that afternoon after I’d stuck myself them. A Wednesday summer practice for a huge tournament coming up. It carried a ten-thousand-dollar scholarship prize for first place. I don’t know why I had gone with something semi-permanent that I wouldn’t be able to fix before the tournament. That’s when those bangs did their worst. They took it upon themselves to send me on the awkwardest trip to the ER.
After the familiar ping of a iron driver sent away Becca’s only diversion from her bad mood about the rain I resisted tightening my hand around the leather grip. I’d seen the little smirk she’d fought in the team huddle about today’s course. “Why is your face so swollen Ace?” Becca asked.
Too bad Coach was huddled up behind the plastic rain shield in his golf cart. He wouldn’t be able to understand a thing any of us said.
Coach purposely had set Becca to tee first so I could get use to psychological tactics. My short nails sent a nice bite of pain on my palm. Don’t rise to Becca’s bait. She only wants to vent her frustration about sending her ball into the sand trap.
Ethan, the only guy on the five person golf team, sighed from his place at the tee. “Can we for once not talk about nail polish and who’s getting fat?”
“Who’s getting fat?” Courtney perked up from her place by the golf bags. Ethan’s ball landed after a tidy arc into the sand trap to join Becca’s.
“Courtney!” Ethan’s club shook in his hand as he walked back under the umbrella attached to his golf bag. “Bad enough it’s raining, did you really need to be that stupid too?”
“Yeah, Courtney,” Becca had found her first victim, and it wasn’t Courtney. “Unlike some of us who are on the team to pad his college applications with sports he can’t actually play, it’s customary to shut up when someone tees off. Penalty at a tournament.”
“Let it go Becca.” I cut off whatever mumble Courtney had been about to say. I switched to my second best driver. “At least some of us don’t have to worry about the school finding out the bill daddy pays every month for the golf carts somebody dents.”
The buzzing in my ears quieted down after that nice little jab. Deep breathe, not because I’m the only professional on the team but to shut out Becca’s reply. Relaxed hands, ignore the oddity of whatever just dripped into my eyes. My hat couldn’t be that wet so soon. Even if it was raining harder my bangs couldn’t be causing this-could they?
“Pair behind us!” Ethan said as Courtney whined, “Hurry up Ace!”
I gave up on the idea of taking my hand off the iron to fix my hair. I can make this shot in my sleep. Then Courtney will tee, we’ll be that much closer to the end of practice and dry clothes. Water squished out from my golf shoes to form a little pool around the tee, like a coconut tree on a sandbar out in the middle of the ocean. It be nice to play somewhere tropical.
I let that thought relax my hands and eased the club back to start my swing. The ping that should have come from my driver making contact with the ball instead happened too early. Mid swing back something hit my driver, and sent the hilt into my hand. Courtney's driver had slipped out of her wet grip in her practice swing because of the rain.
“Seriously? What did Coach say about towels-” I stopped.
My right hand couldn't pick up the iron off the ground. It wasn’t just because the grip was wet, my hand wouldn’t close.Worse, I couldn’t feel my pinky finger anymore. At least not without making multi-color fireworks explode in my eyes. My driver slipped a second time back onto the puddle next to the white golf tee. I straightened and started to take really deep breathes.
As I pulled off the glove I mentally chanted don’t panic, don’t panic.
I even wiggled my toes to stop the sudden urge to hold my breath. It was my fail proof trick to stop any nerves at big golf tournament, or worry if I overheard my parents fight about how to afford golf related fees.
Why wasn’t the toe wiggling working?
Coach’s dry shoes appeared under my hand. I’d left it hovering in the air, shaking and swelling. “Coach, I can’t get a grip.”
Why did everyone else have to be able to hear me? The trembling in my hand did not just jump into my voice.
“What did you do?” He threw my glove at the plastic panel of the golf cart. “Get-get in the cart! Christ almighty there’s the season!”
If anyone was allowed to be freaking out right now Coach, it really ought to have been me. I didn’t say that out loud because I’m ‘Ace’
Abby. I don’t throw fits and toss my irons at people, like Becca. I don’t score more than 80, like Courtney. If that wasn’t enough pressure, I’m the only serious golfer on the team, unlike Ethan and Natalie. I’m Coach’s single chance at getting back on the professional circuit’s radar. Or should I say I probably was his single chance.
I haven’t heard Coach cuss this much since...ever. Did my hand, being in incredible pain and weirdo swelling, mean that I was allowed to cuss too? Courtney’s freak accident could mean I’d never play golf again.
“Practice canceled,” Coach thundered. He fought with the umbrella on my bag so he could load it onto the backseat of the cart. “Dry off, get your forms in order and meet for films during lunch tomorrow. I don’t care if its the first day of class!”
Think anyone told me get well? Nope. My so called teammates had turned back to the clubhouse in clusters under their over-sized umbrellas and muddy water logged shoes. I was alone left in the humid golf cart.
That’s why I hate playing on my high school golf team. It’s not really a team and no one likes anyone else. Welcome to the cut throat competition of forcing a team for a single player sport. We were all out against each other to impress university scouts or land scholarships.
There’s one problem with this scenario, aside from the fact Coach should stop saying there’s the season under his breath every few minutes as he drives the cart back to the clubhouse. I heard Courtney laughing at something Becca says as we pass them.
The bigger problem than my hand is both my parents are out of the country. Mom’s at some work thing for two weeks (she promised, three at the most) in Spain. Dad’s in Australia to bail out his PhD candidates on an archeology dig. I’m seventeen. I’ve no idea how ER works. I don’t know if my parents’ insurance can afford whatever is now wrong with my hand. I’m kinda the one who ought to be freaking out. But I’m not freaking out. The toe wiggling is isn’t working but maybe the swelling in my hand is taking all the blood away from my brain. Or my hand is really messed up and I’m in shock.
In this weird anti-feeling state all I can think is how Mom will get really nervous when she finds out how much this will cost. Dad will have to teach extra classes at the junior college so we can afford it.
Instead of freaking out about my hand, I’m one word away from feeling like I’m going to cry with guilt that I let this happen.
If I hadn’t gotten bangs I would have teed off well before Courtney could screw up her practice swing.
I wouldn’t have injured myself out of a tournament that could have paid for a year’s worth of tuition.
No way is whatever under the swelling going to be magically healed in three days.
I ruined everything.
After the world’s longest trip back to the clubhouse, unlike the others drying off, I stood next to Coach’s dated luxury car as he chucked spare hand towels all over the slick leather seat on the passenger side so that I wouldn’t ruin anything.
“We’ll skip getting ice from the club house so I can get you to the ER sooner.” Coach has the nerve to smile at me. He only smiles when he lies to parents about their kid’s talent, like Becca’s Dad. “Stuff like this usually means one shot then you’ll be back to golfing on Friday.”
I sorta wish there had been time to grab my bag from the truck. The clubs would be fine wet, I just really needed some music to take my mind off the swelling around my palm slowly matching my black and purple nail polish hack job. The talk station on the radio looped traffic reports that I could barely hear over the pounding in my ears.
Music would have kept me from thinking about how much the ER would cost and who would drive my car back to my house. Wasn’t going to be anyone on the team, I had a nifty clutch. Oh and how was I going to get my good luck watch from the clubhouse locker? I needed it for the first day of school tomorrow. And my street shoes. These bangs are screwed my entire year over and made my face look fat.
Coach was gruff but I couldn’t believe how cold he acted on the trip.
A whole summer of speculating about my career with the pros—gone.
After that lie to my face he didn’t say much. The only noise from him at first was his hand as it tapped the wheel at red lights. “You’re not feeling light headed right?”
“Good, let’s avoid fainting today if you can manage.”
“And nausea, speak up if you feel like upchucking from the pain.”
Nothing would have made me happier than to throw up on his precious car right then. But I didn’t. Instead I let my anger block out the constant ache whenever I tried to grip out of reflex. Did Coach honestly think I’d decided this morning I wanted to be done with golf?
I half expected him to pull up to the ER doors and tell me to get out. He could call my emergency contact back from his office at school.
What a great blessing Coach bestowed on me instead. He actually walked with me to the ER lobby! The cleats under my golf shoes clicked against the tile floor and left a muddy trail behind us. I sat down in one of the chairs in the middle before my knees could give out. If I hadn’t gotten these stupid bangs my hair appointment wouldn’t have gone so long and maybe I would have eaten lunch. World’s best decision maker right here!
“Ace, fill out the paperwork while I find your emergency contact stuff.” Coach jabbed the clipboard in my lap and stalked out. No cellphone policy in the lobby.He’s lucky I’m a lefty or I’d have dropped the cheap blue pen on the chain just like I did my iron.
I twisted to look over my shoulder and make sure he didn’t ditch me once he was back outside the electric doors under the overhang. He leaned over something in the trunk and pulled out the blue form we had to fill out at the beginning of the summer. I should have told him about Spain and Australia. Shoulda, coulda, woulda had Coach been less of a jerk. Instead I’d let him enjoy the long distance charges on his cell phone bill.
Right now I really I wish I had my noise canceling earbuds to drown out the baby shrieking at its Mom three seats down. The hard plastic chair sucked out any patience, and heat, I had left in my wet clothes.
A puddle under my feet reflected the fluorescent light that threatened to go out after each flicker. I wasted the time filling out the obvious boxes on the form for age, weight, symptoms and what I was doing when the injury happened.
Then I stopped. Did I really had to put my full legal name on the lines First Name, Middle Initial, Last Name? Neither of my parents will fess up whose genius idea it was to name me Abigail. Thank you academia! I, in retaliation, refuse to own up to my full name and always go by Abby.
“Miss, may I have the clipboard? You’re next.” Hospital scrubs that overran shoes interrupted my quest to unravel the mysteries of the universe stare at the clipboard. So much for getting my hopes up TV.
The hospital dude (I had no idea if the guy was a doctor or a nurse) was not hot. Just a pale surfer type whose under eye bags were large enough to house my locker. He probably said dude and bro every other word when he was off duty.
Doctor-Nurse-Dude escorted me past the counter to a small room where, after making me sit on the table covered with paper, he began to look at my hand. My supposed emergency-emergency contact (because the regular emergency contact would have meant my parents) walked in with
Coach: Mrs. Perry, my eccentric neighbor of fourteen years.
“Ow!” I jerked my hand when Doctor-Nurse-Dude jabbed his thumb into the space between my thumb and index finger.
“I’m like to run some x-rays to get a better idea what your daughter has done to her wrist.” Doctor Nurse Dude looked awkwardly at Mrs.
Perry. For the record, there is no way based on looks Doctor-Nurse-Dude should have assumed we were related just because we’re both blonds. I have brown eyes! She has like these weird gray ones.
But I’d be uncomfortable too if I was being stared down with bored disdain from a lady in a houndstooth suit, three inch heels and katana earrings. This was as normal as you could get from Mrs. Perry.
“Please splint the wrist for now.” Mrs. Perry said moving her purse strap to her other arm.“Thank you, Coach Mansfield, for the phone call.”
What was Mrs. Perry thinking? I needed way more than a splint if Doctor-Nurse-Dude wanted to run more tests. My hope faded that Coach had given Mrs. Perry my stuff as we headed out of the ER and to her overly expensive imported sports car. That is after I signed a bunch of forms stating I was leaving against medical advice.
“Uh, did you get my stuff from Coach?” I stared at the trunk thinking that was probably a no. The trunk looked tiny.
“As if I’m going to have some third rate resident waste my time.”
Mrs.Perry’s earrings looked dangerously close to cutting her chin if she kept shaking her head. Except they’re probably not sharp. That’d be cool but stupid. Wait, that is exactly something Mrs. Perry would do.
“Mrs. Perry, my wrist still hurts. And did you happen to get my gear from Coach?” I left the cover of her umbrella to stand by the passenger door.
“We’re going to a specialist. Do you know the rates that misdiagnosis and malpractice lawsuits from sleep deprived residents incur?”