I know it’s silly, but whenever there is a Friday the 13th, my stomach kind of knots up a little because I’m a slight triskaidekaphobic. It hasn’t always been this way, but I would say pretty much since the incident on Friday August 13, 1993, I’ve been a little gunshy about the number. And what happened that day you might ask?
Well . . . I was stabbed by a tree.
Oh, how I wish I was joking.
(Posting the story under the cut in case anyone is squeamish)
I was 10 years old and at my regular summer camp just kicking it like any other day when someone suggested that we play Survival Tag in the woods. If you’ve never played before, Survival Tag is a game in which each player is assigned an animal and much like the food chain, if you’re a big animal you can tag out anyone who’s smaller than you. I’ve never been a particularly lucky person, so for this round of the game, I was assigned the loathsome roll of “Chipmunk” which, since there is no kid assigned “grass,” is pretty much as low as you can go. However, because I was a sprinter, I figured I had just about as good a chance as anyone to survive.
To be fair to us weeny animals, the counsellors gave us a three minute headstart to find a hiding spot in the woods. The woods by the camp was amazing. While the area the camp was located in was pretty built up, the woods had gigantic trees to hide behind and hollowed out stumps big enough to hide in so there were plenty of hiding spots. I found a place and settled in as quickly and as quietly as possible.
And then Talbot came. Talbot was this little bucktoothed asthmatic kid that everyone called “Timbit”. We’d gone to camp together for a few years and that summer, he was big into wearing oversized Hypercolour t-shirts and sported a mushroom cut that made him look like Moe Howard. On account of the asthma, the counsellors thought it would be nice to give Timbit a less physically tolling roll, so they let him be a bear or a wolf, I can’t remember which.
He was slowly skulking along in the woods when he started coming in my direction. Again, because I was a runner and Timbit was decidedly not, I figured I could easily make a break for it and leave him in the dust.
So I started to run, my feet making a squish noise as they pounding into the mossy ground. Behind me, I could hear Timbit panting heavily so I sped up slightly and continued to plough forward. But in the split second I turned to look back at him, a force stronger than anything else I’d ever felt pushed into me and I fell backwards.
Timbit ran up to tag me, but then stopped dead in his tracks when he saw what had happened. Colour drained from his face and, seemingly, his Hypercolour t-shirt. I looked down.
At first, I couldn’t make sense of what had happened but after starting at it for a moment, I realized that one of my arms had been cut by a rogue tree branch. Because I’d been moving when it happened, the force behind it had been so strong, it had left a gaping slit about two and a half inches long and straight down to the bone.
I do not remember whether or not I screamed. All I know was that the second I realized what I was looking at, I felt a searing pain and I instinctively clamped my dirty hand over top of it to try and stop the bleeding.
The counsellors called my parents and then an ambulance to bring me to the hospital. I ended up having to get 9 stitches, the last 3 of which I felt go in since the doctor had had to spend a ridiculous amount of time picking gravel out of the wound (it was on my hand from falling down and from stealing a base in soccer baseball).
I’ve since been through worse (amputation surgery, anyone?), but part of me still feels shocked when I think about it, mostly because I can’t help believe that it even happened.
I mean, a tree? Are you kidding me?
Anyway, that is the story behind my triskaidekaphobia. So far, today’s been pretty good, but I would be lying if I said I said I didn’t wish it were tomorrow already.