What did not really happen

She has told the story so many times that, when she is telling it, she believes it herself. About how she was getting up from her convertible futon chair -- the wood frame kind with a footrest that extends. How she usually gets up from the chair the very same way, by resting her weight on her right hand, then swinging her legs across and onto the floor at the side of the footrest, because this footrest is not one that responds to leg pressure, like the lay-z-boy footrest. In the story she has told again and again (but why does she feel she should tell it? Is she looking for sympathy, explaining why she is unable to help with the raking, sharing a bizarre mishap?) her hand slips and the weight of her body comes down on the six-inch wide wooden arm rest. Ouch! Bruised, possibly cracked ribs she can do nothing but endure (and complain about, and research on the internet, and become gymnastic about avoiding during sleep).

It's not what really happened. In fact, it would be physically impossible to injure ribs on the right side of the body from that position, i.e, leaning on her right hand, twisting right to swing her legs over the footrest. In this scenario it would more likely have been the ribs on her left side or her breastbone that took the impact. But she has repeated the made-up version often enough that she has almost forgotten the complicated truth, which began with an ant invasion. Just when she thought the invaders dead or at least discouraged, another bold one would appear on the carpet, purposefully moving through the study, heading to the bathroom for water. Sometimes, when she was sitting on her zafu on the floor to practice zazen, one of them would lose its way and crawl over her bare leg, startling her out of wherever she had been. Not horrifying her really, horror is too strong a word. Probably not disgusting her either, or at least not to the degree disgust can feel like food-poisoning. But distracting her at least. When would the next one squeeze through the crack between the moulding and the floor and invade territory that, despite knowing it a cliché (though clichés are true and sometimes unavoidable), she does jealously guard.

She had to get off the floor, so she put her zafu on the square of futon that makes the footrest of the convertible chair, and climbed on top, and immediately toppled sideways towards the floor. Outstretched fingers kept her from wholly catapulting into the wall beneath the window. She didn't hit her head (and she's grateful for that), but the side of her body came down hard on the six-inch arm of the futon chair, just as it did in the fictional version.

The result was the same in both. Bruised, possibly cracked ribs that kept her from sleeping well. While she lay awake she considered why she had not just told it like it really happened. To avoid the charge of stupidity? (Who puts a cushion on the chair and doesn't test its stability before climbing on?) To save herself explaining the ant invasion (which, shortly after that, abated)? To dodge questions concerning the zafu and where had she bought it, concerning the correct posture, concerning her teachers and experience as a practitioner, concerning other methods from other schools? To minimize the distraction that became larger than any ant?

One day after the chair incident, she met a woman she had not seen for a couple of months. "It's because I had an accident," the woman explained. "I was running water in the sink when I looked out to the balcony and saw a bird on my plant. I ran out to chase him away and slipped on the plastic boot tray so that my legs went in opposite directions. I couldn't move... I had to crawl to the phone...." Then, shaking her head, "Isn't it funny how quickly things can happen? How quickly life can change?"

The woman with the injured ribs nodded. Yes it certainly is, she thought. "I'll tell you what happened to me..."