Teaser Tuesday – Step by Step

This is from Fireflies.  Context: Fiona’s brother, Troy, hit his head on the edge of a pool and has a traumatic brain injury.

Mom and I take Troy back after dinner, and before I can leave to find Luke, Troy begs me to watch him walk around the suite once.  I humor him because I don’t want to draw attention to myself from Mom if he makes a fuss when I leave.  I want him to be happy.

Mom’s in her room when he takes those first steps away from the hand he’s been gripping to keep him steady in the walk through the inn.  He’s awkward, but he’s walking on his own.  I see him thinking hard about each step.  Keep the left foot down.  Lift the right foot by bending at the hip and knee.  Put the right foot forward by bending at the knee the other way.  Put down the right foot.  When it’s solidly on the ground, then it’s time to do the same with the left foot.  He looks like a wind-up toy.  He watches his feet the whole way, only stopping when he puts down his right foot in front of the couch.  It’s blocking him from going any further in that direction.  This is where he proves he’s more than a toy.  He gets to reassess the situation, make the decision to turn.

Making decisions is something he has to reshape his brain to do.  It’s not something his therapist can teach him, or Mom, or me.  He just needs that part of his brain to be accessible again.  Either it will return to normal when the brain stops swelling, or the synapses will find a different way to go through the brain and get to where he needs them to be.

Mom says it’s a good sign that he’s been making more and more decisions.

Troy turns stiffly and starts his long trudge around the room.  It takes forever, and, oh, how I’m trying to hold onto my patience, but it’s flying away, little by little, with each deliberate step.  He only stumbles once the whole way around, thank goodness.  I don’t want to see him cry if he falls.  His hand hits the wall a few times, though, keeping him balanced and possibly guiding him like the wall guides me in the dark hallway at night.  Eventually, he ends up back in front of me.  When his shoes are only a few inches from mine, when his floor-bound vision captures my shoes in it, he knows he’s completed his circle.  He looks up at me.

“See, I can walk fine.”

Hope you enjoyed

Lots of love,



16 thoughts on “Teaser Tuesday – Step by Step

  1. This has brought very sad memories about my uncle’s accident when I was 12. As I read, I could see through Fiona’s eyes how she worries about her brother Troy. Something that reminds me of the worry the family went after my uncle’s car accident.

    Fiona’s observations on her brother are very insightful. I particularly like these lines:

    This is where he proves he’s more than a toy. He gets to reassess the situation, make the decision to turn.

    Excellent passage, Sage!

  2. this is really touching and thought provoking! I love the way the technical descriptions of synapses and the brain swelling mesh in without sounding like an info dump! Great job!

  3. Admit it, you were thinking of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” when you were writing the walking description! “Put one foot in front of another!” You are a great writer.

  4. Oh, gosh. I feel like I’m living through Fiona’s eyes, and you know that heartburn kind of feeling you get when you’re about to cry–I got that from reading this. Beautiful teaser!

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