Excerpt: Rita Cosby's 'Quiet Hero'

My scream brought my mother running. Blood gushed from a gash in my leg. The cut was long and deep. When my mother saw it, she became just as hysterical as I was. My father was away, so it was up to her to deal with the crisis. She grabbed a towel and wrapped it around my leg, trying to stop the stream of blood. It was unbelievably painful as she helped me into the Chrysler, and I was teenage girl dramatic. I shivered with fear in the backseat of the car, but as my mother instructed, I kept pressure on the cut and tried to keep my leg straight. When we arrived at the hospital, I was immediately rushed to the emergency room, where I promptly cried to the doctor, "Will you be able to save my leg?" It seemed so dire; certainly, it was the worst wound I'd ever seen. The doctor laughed and said he thought it would not require amputation. As hard as I tried, I couldn't stop the tears as he stitched my split flesh back together.

I left Greenwich Hospital with a lollipop in my mouth and my knee in a brace, a brace I was shackled in for two months. At first it seemed like a terrible handicap, but when I figured out that I could parlay this misfortune into extra attention from cute guys at school, I completely took advantage of it. The injury forced me to stay off my leg as much as I could. On a positive note, running was definitely out. On the negative side, I knew I would end up with some kind of scar. I was secretly sure, however, that it would impress my father.

When he returned from his business trip, I called him quickly to the living room. I was eager to show him my wound, to show him that I, too, finally had a scar of my own.

I remember the morbid fascination I felt as I peeled off the bandages, excitedly anticipating his empathy for my new badge of honor. When I lifted off the gauze, the scar was very apparent; a jagged red line with stitch marks at its edges. It still had the moist plumpness of a fresh wound. I looked to my father for his reaction, hoping for compassion and perhaps even some anecdote about the injuries in his own past.

My expectations were quickly squashed. He didn't mention his own scars. He didn't even commiserate.

"Oh, that's nothing," he said, giving me a pat on the back.

"Carry on."

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