It’s happening again.
One step – a creak in the ankle.
Two steps – a steady ache.
Three steps – shooting pain.
I grip the stairway banister and look down. It’s going to be a rough one.
Sunburn and a finisher’s medal from yesterday’s half-marathon would have been perfectly adequate parting gifts, but apparently I’ve earned another souvenir.
Four steps – oof.
As a gymnast, I was lucky enough to avoid the chronic, creeping injuries: tendonitis, stress fractures, groaning back pain that tightens over the years. Instead, my body opted for the Big Bang sort of injuries: spontaneous and drastic. Go big or go home. Just look at the surgical scars, child-sized crutches (still not tall enough for the adult kind), and miscellaneous knee braces I’ve accumulated.
For the body in motion, slamming into that equal opposing force is a shock. And it comes with a choice: do you fight back? Limp around with ice on your body and fire in your eye? Or do you decide that enough’s enough? Move on to less painful pastures?
In WHAT HAPPENS IN WATER, Savannah’s torn ACL is the last straw. She’s done with gymnastics. No more. It’s time to exchange her dream of competing in college for a normal senior year, with her best friend Cassie leading the way.
But as Savannah quickly discovers, “normal” just won’t cut it.
My characters are fractured. Torn ligaments, torn trust. They’re working toward healing, but “wholeness” doesn’t necessarily correlate with happiness and security.
For Savannah, the journey back to gymnastics is lined with figuring out how to be more than a gymnast and more than her best friend’s counterpart. Healing her body comes with restructuring her identity – and making decisions about what’s really holding her back.
I have a choice to make right now: Do I sit down? Promise myself I’ll never run this far again? Yes and yes, but it’s temporary and my cranky ankle knows it. So long as I can walk, I’m going to keep moving.
|Diana Gallagher is a gymnastics coach, writing professor, and country music aficionado. She holds an MFA from Stony Brook University and once had a story published on a candy cigarette box. Her contemporary YA novel, WHAT HAPPENS IN WATER, releases in Fall 2015 from Spencer Hill Contemporary. For deep musings on gymnastics and Game of Thrones puns, follow her on Twitter.|