This is an excerpt from my memoir, The Colors of Sand, due out in January 2019. You will be able to find it on Amazon.
Striding along the uneven stone slabs, I imagined myself as a poised, confident woman in her high-heeled black faux-leather boots. It was a miracle that I had slid my average-sized western feet into an Asian shoe designed for a petite woman with delicate, elongated toes, of which mine were not. Short, German toes give the appearance of squarish feet that are anything but feminine. The fabric encased my feet like sausages; long, slim, pointy black hotdogs.
A glance at the overcast sky, I silently prayed the stormy weather would hold off. One can never count on the weather during the rainy months in Bangkok, so I was taking my chances.
Up ahead men worked on new construction – an extension for the burgeoning shopping district that Phrom Phong was becoming, or a new spa? Most likely, a condo with a cafe and convenient store on the ground levels as the real estate market was skyrocketing with the influx of tourists, entrepreneurs, and the emerging bourgeois of Thai college graduates.
Turning around, arm up like a wave, a pink cab sped towards me and slowed to an abrupt halt. Lowering my arm, I reached for the black handle and opened the door.
“Siam Paragon, kha?”
“Yes, yes,” the driver answered in English.
Stepping off the curb my left ankle rolled. I froze. Rolling my black pointed foot in circles, it creaked and cracked. Normal. “Thank goodness,” I whispered, exhaling in relief.
Smiling at the driver, I stepped my right foot off the sidewalk and gingerly placed it on the concrete, careful to balance it in the V-shaped drain that ran parallel along the road.
White hot pain shot up my foot into my knee, thigh, and groin. “Ah!”
But who am I kidding. It was actually, “Fuuuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Sorry. Fuck!”
The mother of all expletives and the single worst word to ever say on the streets of Bangkok, at the top of my lungs. The litany continued as I lifted my foot, the pain disappearing as quickly as it had appeared. Stepping into the cab, the foot which no longer felt like mine, bumped into the leather backseat. Bright twinkling lights flooded my vision as my heart rate made a mad dash for the ground.
Inhaling sharply, I whipped the door closed.
“Sukhumvit roong-pa-yaa-baan kha. Sukhumvit Hospital please.”
Droplets of beaded sweat slid into my eyes, while shoulders shuddered from a sudden cold chill despite the humidity. Breathing deeply the white lights faded as I shifted my weight.
As the taxi roared through the usual heavy traffic, my hands slid across the seat leaving damp hand prints. The man drove like he had handled the curves in a sports car all his life. Signal, left, signal, right. A narrow miss of a bus, and a left turn on a yellowish-red light across six lanes of traffic down a typically narrow two-lane side street or soi.
Bumping the edge of the road, the pointy tip of my boot tapped the floor. Stars reminiscent of comic book whams crisscrossed my vision. Flutter. Flutter. My heart rate plummeted down then up.
One. Breathe in. Two. Breathe out. Three. In. Four. Out.
“Here. Here. Out. Out.” a male voice said as my jeaned-bottom slid forward off the seat, both feet landing firmly on the carpeted floor. White hot pain shot through my body.
Reaching into my wallet, I grabbed some bills and blindly handed them to the driver. Then I slid across the seat, opened the door, and ambled out. The door slammed behind me as the pink blur of the car sped off leaving me alone next to the curb.
It was only three inches.
Sniff. Sniff. Tears slid down my cheeks. The neon lights of the emergency room were one-hundred feet away. It might as well have been a mile.
Lifting my leg, I placed a toe on the concrete and hopped up. Teetering, my leg moved forward, weight shifting to the right. Heart rate plummeting, stars warped my vision.
“Help! I need help” I yelled, gulping tears and pain. Ragged breaths threatened to overwhelm me.
Without looks in my direction, nurses and doctors passed me by. A minute later, a nurse rushed over with a wheelchair and motioned for me to sit. A few seconds after that the world went black.
The doctors were forced to cut my boot off as the shoe had no zipper. My bluish blackish foot was forced left than right on the x-ray table. The nurse in her perfectly pressed white uniform, motioned for me to hold still.
The nurse smiled. “Yes, kha.” She didn’t understand.
I had cracked the fifth metatarsal from my pinky toe to a quarter of an inch before my ankle. The doctors considered this a lucky hairline crack. Had it traveled up to my ankle it would have required surgery and a bigger cast. It also would have cost me an arm and both legs as my university insurance looked good on paper only.
I was fitted for a cast running from the bottom of my foot, up my heel, to mid-calf. The pain was no less excruciating. My foot was first wrapped in gauze and then an ace bandage. I was fitted with a giant neon-green, unisex shoe with Velcro and told to stay off it for six weeks.
I laughed. My insurance definitely did not cover that. Plus, this is Bangkok. There is no such thing as handicapped anything.
Rather than go through the entire process again, I picked up a second first aid bandage and wrapped my left foot. For the next six weeks I spent the rest of my paycheck on taxis.
It has taken continuous yoga, Reiki, and several doctors’ appointments to be told that there is nothing to be done but re-break it. This of course required surgery. The moral of the story? When you sprain, crack, or break something, go to the doctors. Don’t do what I did.
And when feet are damaged, it is because the universe is sending you an in-your-face-neon-sign-stamped-to-your-forehead that you are going in the wrong direction.
Two months later I moved to Saudi Arabia. I should have stayed in Thailand.
Any grammar and mechanical issues are the responsibility of the author, and even though she’s an English teacher and does proofread, there may be some errors.