There was blood all over the kitchen floor.
My friend was pale and muttered something about lying down for a bit, then he slid down the wall in slow motion and collapsed on my father’s linoleum floor.
I was horrified.
My eyes were fixed on the deep pulsing slash on my friends forehead. How did this happen? Why did we think this was a great idea? No, seriously, how on earth did we think that this was a smart idea?
The massive silver fishing knife was still in my hand. I dropped it on the kitchen bench like an uninvited spider. It clamoured and protested against the modern brown and orange tiles, it’s sharp blade still covered in Colin’s blood.
He was still on the floor, his face stark against his black Irish hair.
God, don’t die. Don’t die.
I ran to the bathroom and found a clean towel; when I got back Colin had slumped a little more down the wall. The bleeding looked like it had slowed a little, but I was fourteen. What the hell did I know?
I lay Colin on the floor and firmly pressed the towel down on the deep crimson gash across his forehead. Colin groaned. Good. He was still breathing. That’s good right?
“You’re going to be fine Colin.” Oh god was I going to cry? Don’t bloody cry. Just stop and think.
Okay, so the good news was that Colin was breathing, and (lifting the towel up) the bleeding was stopping…sort of…I think.
I looked around at the kitchen. The floor was covered in blood from when we had sliced the blade across his forehead. Okay. When I had sliced the blade across his forehead. Colin had screamed like I was murdering him and run around the room with his hands over the cut. “Shit! Shit! That bloody hurt!”
At first I had laughed, thinking he was being a baby, but then I had noticed the blood. Pouring through his fingers. Streaming down his beautiful angular face and onto the floor.
“Sit down Colin! God, you’re making a mess. My mum’s going to kill me!”
Yep, she was going to kill me alright. Here I was with a nearly dead boyfriend, and blood everywhere, and no good excuse for not being in school on a school day.
I looked at Colin.
He was breathing, but he still looked pretty white. Yep, smart idea. Pretend Colin had fallen over and cut his head, so we couldn’t go back to school. It had seemed like the perfect story to get off our afternoon classes. Really there is only so much of geography and Miss Burt that we could take.
So we’d decided to cut his forehead with a knife, and that way it would look like he had really fallen over. We hadn’t accounted for the fact that a cut from a fall would be jagged, and perhaps filled with gravel or dirt, while a knife leaves a distinct slice through the skin; something which a very astute resident pointed out in emergency a few hours later when Colin’s mum took him in for eighteen stitches. We also hadn’t accounted for my enthusiastic approach to every task I am given, and my unexpected skill for filleting fish; or in this case Colin’s head!
Colin opened his eyes.
I let out a huge sigh. Oh thank god. I think it’s going to be alright.
“What are we going to do now then?” He cocked his eyebrow and gave me a grin.
I burst into semi-hysterical giggles.
“Um…clean up?” My eyes looked around the kitchen. Oh great, there’s blood on the fridge as well.
Colin began to sit up and visibly paled again. I pushed him back down on the floor.
“Perhaps you can lay here for a bit while I clean up this mess, and then we can take you to the doctors.”
“Wasn’t quite the way I thought we’d be spending the afternoon…but I guess we’d better get you away from that knife.” he smirked again, then groaned as I punched him in the arm.
“Well I was determined to make sure we did it right!”
Yes, I was determined.
Perhaps I was also a little misguided, and naive, given I was only fourteen. Oh and I was lucky. Bloody lucky that the universe hadn’t allowed me to actually kill or permanently damage my friend. But I was definitely determined to make something happen.
Determined to get what I wanted.
And it’s true, sometimes determination is the great driving force. I don’t want you to think that it’s not. It keeps you focussed on your goals and it helps you to achieve what you want to achieve in your life. We need that fire. My dogged (perhaps a bit more mature an well thought out now that I am older) determination has certainly brought me incredible experiences and achievement.
But we also need to enjoy the moment. To savour what we are experiencing right now.
Sometimes when you are so determined and focussed on controlling everything in your life, things can spiral out of control. No, it’s true, not everyone slices up their friend with a fishing knife, but if t’s all about the goal, the determination, the fire! fire! fire! you can start making insane decisions in an effort to stay in control.
You also forget to enjoy the very moment you are in.
And it’s often in those moments that you find simple, exquisite joy. That you find you can breathe. That you find you have no real control at all, but this is exactly where you want to be; it’s the essence of a life well lived.
So remember to stop the chaos, step away from the knife and make time in your life to be present in the very moment you are living in.