Eight Seconds By Alexandra Johns

Only eight seconds I thought to myself before I got onto the bull. My mother has tried to stop me from bull riding for as long as I can remember. After what happened to my father, she doesn't want the same thing to happen to me. My father was on a bull named Texas, the fiercest bull in all of North Carolina. He got thrown off and was rushed to the hospital. He ended up getting stuck in a coma and then later, he died. It was such a hard time for both my mom and me. It was like when the power goes out and you were never expecting it. We were never expecting my father to die so soon. That day, I was riding Texas and all I could think about was what happened to my father.

Remember, only eight seconds. One, two, three, four, five, six, bang! The bull wiped me off. It was like having pins and needles stabbing me in the back. I fell to the ground. I couldn't get up. “Marcus Benson, one of the best bull riders in all of North Carolina, has just been thrown to the ground by Texas, the fiercest bull in the state!” the announcer shouted into the microphone. People tried to talk to me, but they kept getting quieter and quieter. I woke up and I didn’t know where I was. My mom, Maria Benson, and my best friend, Spencer Ross, were both with me. It appeared to me that I was in the hospital, but the room looked a little fuzzy. My mom and Spencer were knee deep in fear. They were both crying, thinking I was never going to wake up. I guess they didn’t notice me open my eyes. I ended up having my right leg and left arm paralyzed.

After three days in the hospital I finally got to go home. Spencer came over to my house everyday after school because I didn't go to school anymore, so I didn’t get to see her everyday. I started doing online school so I could still go to college. I was a senior at a public school called North Carolina High School. It was hard being happy considering the condition I was in. I stayed stowed away in my room all day. When Spencer came over, she tried to get me to go downstairs but I wouldn’t budge. I wouldn’t talk to anyone, even the people that came to visit me after school. I wouldn’t eat either. “Marcus what do you want for lunch?” my mother shouted to me from the bottom of the stairs, but I didn’t answer. I could hear her stomping up the stairs. As she got closer to my room I could feel the ground vibrate. It felt like a giant was coming up the stairs. She came in my room and tried to get me to talk to her. “Marcus you need to talk to someone, anyone,” she said, starting to cry.

“I’ll have a ham and cheese sandwich, but that’s all,” I mumbled.

“Okay. Thank you for talking to me. I have felt like you’ve been shutting me out,” she said as she left my room.

It is hard to talk to people when you have nothing to say to them. At this point I didn’t want to be here laying in bed all alone and not able to move without help. I just wish I could go back in time and trained more, or at least listen to my mom when she told me I would get hurt. I could have died.

Spencer came over right before dinner. She tried to get me to eat, but I just pushed her away. I talked to her once in about three hours. All I said to her was, “Go away.” She listened and went downstairs to talk to my mom. I could hear them through the door.

“Has he talked to you at all today?” Spencer questioned my mother

“All he said to me was what he wanted for lunch. I told him how I felt, but that’s all I said,” my mother said with a sigh.

“He is shutting everyone out. Even you, and you’re his mother!” Spencer whispered in frustration. I could hear them, but it was hard to fully understand them. All I knew is that they were angry with me. All they wanted me to do was talk, but all I was doing was pushing them away.

I hadn't seen Spencer in a month and my life was getting even more depressing. When I was in school my life was going great. I had great friends like Mike, who played on the football team and Spencer, my best friend since Kindergarten. Now I didn’t see anyone. My mom rarely comes up to my room, but that night Spencer came over. For once I was happy to see her. “Hey Marcus, long time no see,” Spencer woke me up. “You know it 3:00 pm right?”

“Well I know now,” I replied. Spencer smiled, but you could tell she was in shock. She didn’t know what to say. She hugged me and started sobbing. We talked, laughed, and ate dinner, but before we knew it, it was already 11 o’clock. Spencer had school tomorrow so she had to get home and I was getting tired so I decided to go to bed. A week went by and Spencer came over every night. My mom was happy that I was talking to Spencer, but I didn’t talk to mom because I was angry at myself for not listening to her. She went through so much pain while I was in the hospital and I don’t want to put her through that again. I had to go back to the hospital because my doctors had to check up on me. When I was at the hospital laying in bed I started to get really hot. The doctors came in to see if I was okay. They noticed I had a terrible fever. They said I had to stay at the hospital to run more test to see if it was more that just a fever.

After one night the doctors found out that I had a concussion and a fever. I was getting even worse. After three nights I got to go home. I was still sick, so I didn’t want Spencer to come over because I didn’t want to get her sick too. She begged my mom. My mom wouldn’t let Spencer in because I told my mom I didn’t want any visitors. Spencer thought it was my mom’s idea not to have people visit me, but it was really my idea. It took me a week to get better and I had to go to the hospital that day so they could check up on my concussion. I was fine so I could go home. I wasn't sick anymore, so Spencer could come over, but I still have to move around in a wheelchair. Spencer was sitting on our front step when we got home. She was crying so we invited her in for some tea and to talk. When she calmed down she told us that her mother had a heart attack and was in the hospital. She didn’t know who to talk to so she came to us. We let her stay the night and stay the next day. Her mom was in the hospital for a week and she couldn’t recover. She only had three more days. It turns out that three days turned into one and Spencer’s mother died. A month went by and I only talked to Spencer over the phone.

I was still planning on going to college in North Carolina, but now I don’t think it will be a possibility for me. Spencer graduated and went to UCLA. We tried to stay in touch but that didn’t go as well as we thought it would. I guess great things don’t always last. I didn’t end up going to college, but I did get married to a wonderful woman named Teresa. We moved into a house together and have been together ever since then.

The End


Created with images by Paul J Everett - "Professional Bull Riding (PBR), Indianapolis 2008"

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