A LETTER TO MY LEFT ANKLE
My Dearest Left Ankle,
We’ve had our up and downs. And, while I acknowledge you’ve always been there for me, offering (generally) unceasing support, I know too that your feelings have been bruised, twisted even, for a while now.
Some things are more easily expressed when written down. Declarations of love. Resignation letters. Shopping lists. It’s in that spirit that I write.
It was the early 2000s. Already, I was blasé about possessing you. And your dear friend, Right Ankle, too, I admit. Playing soccer whilst drunk is never a good idea but surely you’ll forgive me the recklessness of youth, Lefty. I don’t need to tell you want happened. Playing the fool, I attempted to stand on the soccer ball, aping a trick seen performed in the Premier League.
Alas, we have never been athletically blessed. I fell. I heard you crunch. I cried out in pain, Left Hand and Right Hand darting to your assistance.
Alas, my friends chose a different approach. They took turns in kicking the soccer ball at my supine figure, giggling as they did so. Eventually, half-numbed by alcohol, shirt stained by ball marks, I was able to stand. I hopped from the field, unable to speak such was the sharp tearing that emanated in waves from you, Lefty.
Please believe me when I say I’m sorry, for here’s the moment when I should have found medical aid. Oh! How things might now be different if I had. Instead, I went to the pub: the folly of youth. I was unable to walk, but still I drank. After 6 pints of Snakebite (hard cider and blackcurrant), I no longer felt pain. I no longer felt very much. Apart from the desire to dance and, later, a hunger for a lamb kebab. (Wicked Stomach.)
These wishes were fulfilled. I need not tell you that, as was my custom at university, I returned to my room alone. There is no sleep as dead, as total, as that of the drunkard. My eyes had rolled into my head by the time my head hit the pillow.
I woke early. Too early. You woke me, Lefty. You were awake with pain. My head swimming with hurt and regret, I pulled back the duvet to reveal a black soccer ball where you had once been.
I looked closer. This was no ball. This was you. You had swollen to five times your original size. In another context, your change of colour may have been attractive. Here, it was terrifying. At the edge of your swollen contour, the skin had assumed a purple tint. The closer to the centre of the damage I looked, the darker the bruising. Your very centre was jet.
I abandoned my attempt to pull a sock over you. I slipped you into a laceless trainer. Every touch, every manipulation, sent pain racing to my heart.
I need not tell you that four Samaritans pulled over their cars to offer us a lift as I hobbled, my whole left side alight with pain, towards the medical centre. What a sight we must have made! I turned them all down. We, I, deserved this. A walk of 5 minutes took 20.
Inside, a nurse winced. She thought you were broken. Despite this, she still made me walk a long corridor to an X-Ray machine.
Lefty, you weren’t broken. It was ‘only’ severe ligament damage. But, I confess, our relationship didn’t survive the incident unscathed. It’s true, admit it, that we’ve never since trusted each other in the same way.
This is why I write, Lefty. I can’t live the rest of my walking life this way. I want to share with you that which I share with Right Ankle: unqualified support, no moaning (from either of us) when the weather turns. You share socks with her. Why not share a relationship? Three is the magic number. Especially when it comes to ambulation.
If you’re unmoved by my confession, my plea for rapprochement, you should find consolation in the fact that you’re not Left Fibia. She, if you remember, was snapped in twain following an accident on a climbing frame when we were but children. Too young for general anaesthetic, I still remember the deep bite of extreme pain, the crunch of bone when the hard-fingered doctor reset LF.
I never broke you, Lefty. Grant me that, at the very least.
Yours, as you are mine,
PS I even promise to buy a longer bedspread.