Monkey Business, The End
In our last episode, Lorna, like Marilyn Monroe, was in a predicament in which she needed some management. Unlike the sexy movie star, Lorna was suffering from a freak monkey bar accident…
No one noticed that anything was wrong with me until the next day. I was glad for the time to concoct a plausible lie about my bruises and limping. I was, however, disappointed that the bowling ball where left knee usually was went unnoticed. I should have known: I was normal, no-problem Lorna. Trouble surrounded my sisters, not me. Being good apparently made me invisible.
Getting dressed for school the next day, Mom finally noticed that my left knee was the size of an adult head and the color of a rotten eggplant. “Dear Lord, Lorna! What happened to your knee?” She never used holy words on week days. I was very satisfied.
“I fell off my bike.” I couldn’t lie to her face, so I spoke into my belly. My face reddened as I imagined another few years in Purgatory. Maybe even Hell…I wasn’t clear on the sliding scale of fibs and lies, or their relative damages on my eternal soul.
“When? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Yesterday. After school.” I was back in comfortable truth-territory so I was looking right at her serious eyes underneath her knitted eyebrows. “I was afraid you wouldn’t let me ride my bike any more.” I chose the bike-lie because I knew she wouldn’t take away my bike—it was unthinkable. Carpools hadn’t been invented yet.
With motherly kindness, she said, “Oh, Lorna. This looks very serious. We have to take you to a doctor.”
Then more sternly, “You should have told me right away.”
Tears welled up in my eyes—tears of relief, pain, guilt.
“How much does it hurt?”
“A lot,” I nodded, making tears spill. She wiped them away. I think that made us both feel a little bit better.
The doctor checked me over. I had scrapes on arms, hands, and legs—and chaffing on the back of my knees. The nasty bump on the back of my head was something that defied bike-accident logistics. But my doctor wasn’t keen on investigating anything suspicious that didn’t look life-threatening. He asked how I got the bump. I shrugged. Medical investigation complete.
My left knee was sprained. I probably wrenched it in an attempt to hang on for dear life while my traitorous right knee slipped from the sweat pooling behind it.
Eventually I mended and life went on, riding my bike and avoiding all but the bottom few levels of the monkey bars. Skinny Michele and I never spoke of the incident. We remained best friends even though she left me for dead under the monkey bars.
In my thirties, I told Mom the truth about how I sprained my knee. By then, the allure of the monkey bars had long faded, so if she wanted to forbid me from playing on them, so be it. The bike-lie haunted me more than my forever-weakened left knee. Finally coming clean felt wonderful. Setting the record straight helps you feel better in your own skin, even if being in that skin gets you bumped and bruised along the way.
Just ask Marilyn Monroe. Oh, you can’t; then you’ll have trust me.