The other night our family, joined by our close family friends, attended a beach party run by our church. The evening was spent playing frisbee on the hot sand, wading through freezing cold ocean water, and running across the beach in an epic game of manhunt.
One activity that was not mentioned above had the largest impact on the night. There is a lifeguard stand on the beach that is vacant after around 3 or 4 pm. It is a popular game to climb up the lifeguarding station and jump off one of the three steps onto a large pile of sand. The sand acts as a cushion for the jumper and raises the area of impact as not to cause injury. On the other side of the stand is one ledge, sans steps, and no comfortable mountain of sand to land on.
Early on in the evening, hours before the sunset, my brother Atticus and I, accompanied by several friends, decided to play on the stand. After a few uneventful jumps off the safer side of the lifeguarding stand, several of the kids decided to jump off the rather unforgiving and extremely intimidating side of the tower. I, for one, have a fear of heights, and declined to jump off the highest part of the structure onto flat sand. However, Atticus and his friends jumped off a few times each, landing with various degrees of elegance.
To make the game more exciting, the frisbee was incorporated. As the designated “watcher” of the jumping excursion, I threw the frisbee up to the top of the tower where people were standing while one either caught it up there and threw it back or jumped off the stand and caught the frisbee mid-air.
Eventually, Atticus stepped up to the top of the formidable lifeguard station with a confident smile strewn across his face. There was nothing to be worried about, seeing as he had landed the jump a few times. He jumped, flying through the air with grace as he caught the frisbee. Catching a moving frisbee while falling nine feet onto flat sand is no simple feat, and soon took its toll of Atticus.
He landed in an awkward position, and quickly buckled down and started grimacing on the sand. At first several of the kids were joking around with Atticus, not expecting him to truly be injured. After laying on the ground gripping his ankle for five minutes, we started to get worried. The decision was made to carry him back to the fire and party setup to get him looked at.
By the time that Atticus’s ankle was looked at by several doctors who happened to be at the beach party, the ankle was the size of an apple. It scared off several of the smaller children, and at that point everyone knew that it was serious. There was a variety of reactions across the party, ranging from mildly interested to freaking out. My little sister Pippa attributed to the latter.
It became clear that Atticus was severely injured, and he was eventually loaded into the back of our car and driven by my mother and father to the emergency room. The rest of the night had a dark cloud of sorts looming over it. It was difficult to enjoy the evening knowing that my brother was not there.