written and read by Damien Laughlin | illustrated by Vaso Michailidou
I was going to start by telling you all about my broken back. It’s a good story. Fourteen years old, lying in bed, reading a lesser-known Nabokov, when a Ford Transit smashes through the gable wall and into my headboard. My wardrobe explodes. A portion of the roof collapses. Nabokov is dropped, page lost, and swept under an encroaching wheel. I, meanwhile, find myself pinned to the opposite wall, spine broken in two places. The rest of me is spared, thanks to the fortunate positioning of a bulky bookcase, a top-of-the-range but seldom used Yamaha keyboard, and a little locker filled with key rings and other curios. Combined, they stopped the Transit in its tracks. Things. Things saved my life.
A drunken driver would add a certain drama to the story, but in truth the vehicle was unmanned, its invasion into my home the result of nothing more malevolent than a snapped handbrake cable and a steep slope. Likewise, a long, exhausting rehabilitation process would provide an element of struggle and eventual triumph — an uplifting montage scene — but in actual fact I’d made a full recovery from my injuries in a matter of weeks. Spinal breaks can be fatal, yes, but they’re more often minor. I have an uncle who fell through an attic once. He got up, dusted himself off, and re-plastered the roof the same day. Weeks later he went to the doctor with a crick he couldn’t shake. Turned out he’d been walking around for a month with a broken neck. His break was slight. Mine was slighter. Not even a crick for me. I suppose the biggest tragedy was the Nabokov, a vintage edition of Invitation to a Beheading. I could always buy another copy, but I’ll be damned if I can remember which page I was on.
About the artists:
Vaso Michailidou is a freelance illustrator based in Greece. She graduated from Coventry University with an Illustration degree in 2014. She loves drawing buildings, girls and fluffy eyebrows.
Damien Laughlin is an incurable people-watcher, eavesdropper and note taker. He is a menace to public places and lives in Derry, Northern Ireland. He has been published in The Cadaverine Magazine.