Magpie Moments: Wearing a Skirt with a Shiner

Magpie bird stock photo from Photography by BJWOK on freedigitalphotos.netThis is the second in a series of what I’m calling Magpie Moments, things that I snagged from real life and repurposed into fiction.

I will add something new to the series every week until the next Sydney Brennan release. And SPOILER ALERT: you may not want to read these if you haven’t read Back to Lazarus yet.

When I was a sophomore in high school, I caught an elbow playing pick-up basketball after school and ended up with a hell of a shiner. It was centered on my cheekbone, but the swelling and discoloration extended to my eyesocket. It was beyond make-up, even if had owned any and known how to use it. Instead I wore a brand-new skirt to school, a cute black and white checked thing with a wide black waistband that really popped. I never wore skirts or dresses in high school, and I don’t know what had possessed me to buy that one, but I was glad I had. The next day I kept hearing compliments from behind me or from my “good side,” and when I’d turn to thank my unsuspecting classmate she (or he) would gasp. I was uncomfortable at first, but somehow the two things that drew attention to me seemed to cancel each other out.  [From Chapter 17 when Sydney wakes up in the hospital]

Yellow sign with downhill skierThis is a mostly true story about me. I did get a helluva shiner, I did wear the skirt I describe even though I rarely wore skirts, and I did get those reactions. The one big change is my method of injury (and mine was scraped a little raw too). Growing up in rural West Virginia, beginning in high school, if we were really lucky we’d go to Canaan Valley for skiing once a year. That’s not often enough to learn to ski, but just often enough to think you can and get hurt. I was (of course) trying to impress a boy I’d just met by racing him. It was icy and I went straight down the slope like a demon, but only made it 2/3 of the way down. I did wake up in time to see my friend Renee skiing toward me and wonder if she would run me down. Fortunately she was able to stop. I couldn’t have, which is why I went straight down the hill–I didn’t know how to do anything else. I never saw the boy again, but I thought of him every day for the next couple of months when I bent over and felt my head (not my heart) throb.

[Magpie image by BJWOK and Ski image by Salvatore Vuono, both from]

2 Replies to “Magpie Moments: Wearing a Skirt with a Shiner”

  1. I LOVE it! I really related to Sydney, but have never been as brave or as much of a risk taker. However I do remember trying to surf because of the cute surfer boys in high school and I was doomed from the start. Although I am a terrible klutz that will find anything within 5 miles to trip or fall over, I never had a black eye and I never broke any bones until at age 42, I walked out the front door with a basket of laundry and misstepped, breaking a foot bone. I continued to wash 6 loads of laundry but by the next day my foot was black and blue and I figured out that I might need an xray. I was a 3rd year resident and continued to work.

    1. Thanks, Lissa! Probably a good thing I didn’t grow up where surfing was an option. And I definitely will be more careful doing laundry from now on.

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