A Mistake

by Benjamin Khoo (P6 2021)

             “Jim! It’s already 11.30! Shouldn’t you be at the park now?” Mother asked.

              “Oh no! How could I have forgotten? Thanks, Mum. I’ll get going now,” I replied thankfully, heaving a sigh of relief. Every Saturday, at 11.30, I would meet up with my friends at the skate park to perform bicycle stunts. That day, as I was rushing to complete my homework, I had forgotten about it. Scrambling to get to the skate park on time, I clumsily got on my bike and dashed off.  Unfortunately, I had made a mistake by forgetting about something else.

              The skate park was one of my favourite places in the neighbourhood.  The blue concrete slopes were always teeming with skateboarders and cyclists performing an array of stunts. They would even organise mini competitions and playfully challenge each other, as was the case with me and my friends, Jared and Tim. Although we were just amateur cyclists, we still relished in performing stunts together. However, Jared had performed a more impressive stunt than I had last week. I was adamant to claim victory over him.

              “Hi Jim! Ready to get beaten again?” Jared taunted me out of the blue, wrenching me away from my thoughts.

              “As if!” I challenged, “I’ve gotten much better over the last week!” So Jared and I got ready.  Secretly, I was like a cat on a hot tin roof. Jared was a much better cyclist than I was, able to pull off much more complex moves than me. I was the underdog.

              So, with Tim as the judge, Jared and I were ready. Jared volunteered to go first. He took his bike and assumed his position. Then, as quick as lightning, he raced up the slope. At the last moment, he twisted his bike around, such that his bike was sideways in the air. His bike finally turned the full 180 degrees in mid-air and descended down the ramp, signalling the end of the stunt. How was I going to outdo that? One stunt popped into my head. It was quite perilous, but my sense of pride vanquished my better judgment.

              As I wheeled my bike to the bottom of the slope, I realised what I should have realised the moment I had walked out the door. I was not wearing my safety gear!

              Risk. That was the only word in my mind in those few moments that felt like months. Was this dangerous stunt really worth the risk?

              “No!” I felt the sensible and rational side of my mind urging me to back out. However, once again, that small monster in my head, a ball of arrogance, pride and insecurity seemed to step up to the control panel of my head and shouted, “Of course it’s worth the risk! Do you really want to look like a coward?”

              That was it. No longer was risk at the centre of my mind. My pride had taken over. All I thought about then was out-doing Jared. Straightening my spine, I mounted my bicycle and pedalled up the ramp, and everything else tumbled into a blur. Blazing up the ramp, optimism overcame my nervousness. “I can do this,” I convinced myself with determination. Then, the moment came. It was all or nothing. My bicycle’s wheels parted with the ramp.  Mid-air, I twisted my body, bringing my bike along with it. For those few seconds, my bike was spinning in the air, just as I had intended. The grin on my face said it all. I was elated. I could finally beat Jared.

              Then, it happened. A sudden gust of wind blew my bike off course and my bike tumbled, with me on it. As my bike turned sideways, so did I, and my knee made first contact with the hard, cement ground. Searing pain shot up my whole knee. Jared and Tim grasped, their expressions embodying nothing but worry. The other people in the skate park scrambled: some towards me, others away from me. Dizziness overcame my senses. Everything around me was just waves of colours. My hearing was muffled. I could barely distinguish the cacophony of voices. My body, especially my knee, began to feel numb. Suddenly, everything went black.

              Beep! Beep! Beep!

              “He’s awake!”

              “Thank goodness!”

              That was all I heard when I woke up. As my eyes flickered open, I took in the scene of the enlarged faces of family and friends gathered around my hospital bed peering at me. Jared and Tim talked to me for a moment. My uncle and aunt comforted me. A doctor appeared and explained my injury.

              “Young man, you have quite the injury,” he shared his diagnosis with a grave expression, “I’m afraid you’re going to require an operation.”

              At that, my mother, who was standing next to me burst into tears. “Why had this happened?” I reflected. However, I knew the answer. My carelessness, arrogance and insecurity had led to this.  Watching mother weep on my father’s shoulder, I was struck by the gravity of my mistake and I pledged never to let my pride take over, to never repeat this mistake.

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