I went on an outdoors weekend retreat with K a few months back, and had a bit of an accident. I was on the outside porch getting the charcoal fire ready to cook the delicious meal we had planned on. There’s this goofy contraption my pa has gotten me in the habit of using to light the charcoal, a kind of metal cup with a thick screen at the bottom. You jam some newspaper into the space at the bottom, place some charcoal on top, and light the newspaper. The charcoal gets a concentrated blast of heat and starts faster. I have my doubts about the overall effectiveness of this thing.

Take the current scenario I’ve just painted. It’s windy, and there’s no cover, so it’s impossible to light a match and get the newspaper going. So I decide to step off the porch and duck down behind the cabin to get a windbreak. This isn’t rocket science. Unfortunately, the two wooden steps are uneven, and constructed in such a way that they appear level. I step the wrong way, and tumble down like a pile of bricks. My immediate reaction is to toss the contraption and move that hand to steady myself into a controlled fall. My knee nearly bends at an unhealthy angle before I slow my fall and slide to the ground. Well, it does make a “crick” noise, and for a moment the pain is so intense I think I’ve broken something.

Luckily, it turns out to be a minor sprain. I can move about, but I have to spend most of our retreat with an ice pack and an elevated leg. Thank the maker for the rum punch we brought! They don’t call it “mixing up the medicine” for nothing. K and I have a blast at our secret little retreat zone, and get some good psychological recovery done. Around here in the nation’s capital (see also, “Doomsville”), you take mental fallout all the time from any number of different sources, and it can be hard to shake the accumulated stress.

As I’m sitting there, nursing a cup of medicine and putting the ice on while the steaks sizzle on the grill, I get to thinking. What happened to me bears a striking resemblance to a scene in my book! Rordan, the main character, is fetching his foster brother some tea when he has an accident. He sacrifices the tankard he’s holding to avoid a nasty fall and ends up mildly injured. Granted it’s not a perfect match – I’m holding a metal contraption that resembles a huge mug, not an actual tankard, and Rordan injures his foot while I injure my knee.

But it’s a meaningful coincidence that’s not lost on me. Rordan’s “accident” is no accident, and I’m not sure I want to be having the same kinds of experiences as a character in my book. On the other hand, it makes me feel closer to what I’m doing with my writing. I’m kayaking those turbulent waters of the unconscious again. Which means I have to watch out for the monsters lurking in the crawlspace beneath porches, waiting to take a swipe at people walking by.