Chapter 6 - Shouting At A Paraplegic To Get Up And Walk

Chapter 6 - Shouting At A Paraplegic To Get Up And Walk

A Chapter by Oscar Blomqvist

They looked shocked at my use of the word “f**k,” which was understandable since the impression I got from their parents was that the craziest thing they’d ever done was to have sex above the covers.


I excelled early academically, although, in those days, it was all about being able to grasp the simplest of problems. I was good enough at math, that when I finished a lesson’s work, I stood up and started helping those who were struggling. 

When I stood up to help someone it was always fine because I was coming to them, not the other way around. I had my mind set on helping. But when I was seated next to someone like Peter, who struggled to get his brain to work at the speed of the average snail, he asked me questions like “What’s one times two?” over and over. I just lost my s**t.

“USE YOUR BRAIN!!!” I would shout at him. I struggled to answer questions that were so dumb they didn’t need answers, or shouldn’t need them at least. After I did that, Veronika would give me a talking to, and I saw her point, I basically just shouted at a paraplegic to get up and walk. 

This was about the time that I started to suffer from intellectual isolation. To put it in drama-queen-speak, this would over the coming years come to almost entirely break me from within until I was merely a shell of a human, thinking almost exclusively of death and destruction.

The summers down south at my grandma’s giant house were fairly idyllic, at least on the surface. The sun was shining, the grass was dry and yellow because of the lack of rain, and the sea was headache-inducingly freezing. 

You jumped in from the dock leading out into the water, realized this was a huge mistake and frantically got out of there as quickly as possible. Except for dad, who relished the cold and took a few strokes into the ocean, making “ooohh” and “aaahh” noises to deal with the below comfortable temperatures. 

This made me stay in for a bit longer as well because you don’t want to be a wimp. There were usually a group of young men playing keepy-uppy at the end of the dock, whoever lost the ball into the water had to jump in and get it, it was all very macho. 

The reason I say it was only idyllic on the surface is that while it was really nice and all, the group was suffering from the fact that a significant percentage of the people gathered there were dying on the inside, and with a number of young girls present, the body image issues that creep out as soon as it becomes too hot to wear a jacket were making themselves known like a genital rash a week after returning home from a trip to Amsterdam. This would come to result in a number of suicidal thoughts and one actual suicide… so far, but more on that later, don’t you worry.

I also played fake Wild West war (without my “wild” vest) with the neighborhood kids on warm summer days when I was a child. We used guns that made noises when you pulled the trigger. Sometimes they worked and sometimes they didn’t, so sometimes your opponent died, and sometimes they didn’t. 

However, like almost all other human beings I’ve met in life, these boys weren’t “my people” and after a while, we drifted apart. I might’ve got a tiny bit too physical during street hockey, resulting in one of the other boys hitting me with his stick, resulting in me pushing the boy to the ground and walking off.

“But he’s a year younger than you!?” Per, one of the neighborhood kids, shouted after me, something that would apparently make him hitting me with his stick okay.

“Why the f**k does that matter?!” I shouted back. 

They looked shocked at my use of the word “f**k,” which was understandable since the impression I got from their parents was that the craziest thing they’d ever done was to have sex above the covers and perhaps, maybe, possibly with the lights on. 

I’ve seen Per a few times in recent years, we walk past each other sometimes and say “Hi.” Sometimes he’s got a girl with him. He managed to get on that horse before me, although I’m pretty sure I got on an actual horse before him. 

When I see people from my past, I always manage to be smug, despite that in ten out of ten cases, in comparison, my life is objectively a lot sadder and more pathetic. But holy f**k that changes fast when you allow yourself to go slightly insane.

Certain sports allowed me more male comradery than others. Everybody played soccer and floorball when it was still warm outside. But when the snow started to fall there was a divide, between those who managed the transformation from asphalt and gravel to snow, from ball to puck, and those who’d rather use the snow to pack it into small, hard balls and throw em’ as hard as they could at someone’s face. 

Sometimes these groups overlapped, although that didn’t apply to me. Ice hockey was in, floorball was out. It was really a mix of the two. Sometimes it was hockey with floorball sticks, sometimes just regular floorball, just a lot more slippery than usual. 

However, everyone wasn’t so into floorball. Lukas complained loudly about not being included (the only time that ever happened), and Veronika would give the rest of us guys who spent the breaks pummeling each other a glare that could slay a stallion. All we said was that since he didn’t have a stick, he couldn’t play, we didn’t stop him from joining or ask him not to. 

We wanted him to play with us, but he didn’t have a stick, and that was hardly our fault. So, Lukas became the goalie without a stick. And he was fairly good at it. But he was not as good as Arlo. We didn’t have helmets or anything, not even the goalies, if the ball/puck hit your face, then it hit your face, end of story, stop moaning about your stiff lip, shove some paper up your nose to stop the bleeding, and get out there again. 

Okay, we were more considerate than that. More than you could expect really. I may have painted a picture of a class of awful kids, but there were moments of surprisingly progressive, compassionate actions. 

Like when I fell over on the soccer pitch once we were a bit older and had finally claimed it as ours, and my legs started bleeding here and there. It was towards the end of the fifth year of school and the sun was shining as warm as ever. 

The guys, and Frida, gathered around me.

“It’s okay to cry,” said Tommy. I didn’t. But it took me aback. The fact that he said it at all surprised me and made me like him a bit more. You rarely come by a twelve-year-old boy who’s willing to say the words “It’s okay to cry” in front of his friends.

With each year, the classroom in which you had almost all of your classes changed, so each fall when you came back to start a new year of school, you really felt like you had progressed, literally. It also kept the age groups together and succeeded in keeping the older kids away from the younger as we all gradually moved through the school. 

In the second year, when we were in our third classroom, including the one we had the year when we were six, we were paid a visit by Allison, the English teacher of Jodie and Lukas, who had Welsh and American parents respectively. The rest of us mortals were taught by Veronika. As by circumstance (not really), Veronika was standing next to the wall right beside me in the corner where I was sitting, listening to Allison speak. 

She was talking about some pub in Ireland she had visited, using words none of us understood, like “opposite” and “shithole.” When she described the place as a shithole, I burst out laughing, simply because you don’t expect a teacher to describe anything as a “shithole” in front of a class of eight-year-olds. 

Maybe she assumed we couldn’t understand what she was saying so she could allow herself to say the line “That place was a shithole anyway,” before moving on with her talk. Veronika was laughing behind me as well. Jodie and Lukas were not. Maybe they were just used to it. We had a nice moment there, Veronika and me. It was like we were in a little bubble of our own. That bubble became more important as time went by, as everything outside of it became steadily shittier.

You see, the reason I don’t want to say that I was bullied is that I was just picked on. And there’s a difference. People would poke me in the back and run away, laugh really loudly and point at me for no reason, and run away. Not that awful, just really f*****g annoying and rather humiliating. They would call me names and just generally be dicks. 

If I had to describe it in one word, I guess that word would be ostracism. I was isolated, shunned in a way, excommunicated, and sort of barred and even banished from being part of the group. And there was something every day, there was never a day that I could fully relax. I wasn’t part of any “Us” or “We,” I was othered. 

And being mature and intelligent enough to pick up on these clues made it all very disheartening. I realize that to some, this may make me sound like a massive, moaning crybaby, but I need to get this s**t out so I can properly move on from this garbage and stop having it define me, so just let me say what I have to say and then you can laugh at me all you like.

From their point of view, I was probably someone who had a short fuse and was a safety risk to deal with. I guess in a way that’s fair enough. But I never saw it that way. I felt like I was dealing with a bunch of anti-vaxxers and climate change deniers. The wall of ignorance and willing misunderstandings was thick, like that of a nuclear bomb shelter, and I would never in a million years be able to hack my way through it. 

This was also the year that I fully renounced the idea of having a so-called “best friend,” since the last year had shown me that those can turn on you and screw you over since Lukas found that picking on me was way more fun than being my friend ever was. I can’t say he was wrong. I can’t have been that entertaining as an eight-year-old if I’m honest.

At the end of each school year, the kids in each class would learn a few songs to sing in church at the ceremony celebrating the end of the school year. One of them was the classic “Den blomstertid nu kommer,” roughly translated it means: “Soon, it’s flower time!” in anticipation of summer and, for me and those equally afflicted, hay fever. 

Being in a church wasn’t a problem in my day but recently there has been made a fuzz about the fact that the school year is ended in a religious building in a multi-religious country where everyone isn’t Christian. A fair criticism. If it weren’t for the fact that Swedes are about as religious as the pope is atheist, that is to say, not at all. 

I’ve often seen the question “If you don’t believe in God, then why do you celebrate Christmas?” on the internet, because that’s where all the annoying people gather to type you to death. It’s not really about Jesus. 

It’s more about the fact that when it’s dark and cold, it’s nice to gather your family, pretend you like each other, get drunk and give each other presents while stuffing yourself with food. The Christmas beer is for glossing over any tensions that might arise. It turns your annoying grandma into a blurry figure who insists on talking to you even though all you can say is onhdejobhfqeubhfeqwb.

When my dad shops for Christmas beer, everything is about the label. If one of Santa’s little elves isn’t carrying a little bag of presents into a cabin, then it’s not good enough for my dad. When it’s Christmas, the beer is part of the decorations, the rest of the year it’s just for getting drunk. I don’t think my dad is like other dads when it comes to me drinking or anything else for that matter. 

He wants me to get drunk with him because I’m his best friend, which is equally sad and fantastic. It’s sad when you’re still sober and realizes that it’s sad, when you’re drunk, you sink lower and lower into the couch and nothing bothers you anymore. It’s excellent. It sounds like my dad is an alcoholic which really isn’t true at all, it’s just that when he has a snack, it’s all of the peanuts or none of the peanuts.

Another great part of Christmas is when my grandpa arrives and decides to roll down the windows, despite the fact that it’s minus fifteen degrees, and serenade the entire neighborhood by blasting Holy Night till his car speakers crumble. He always times it just right, too. Just when you open the door to greet the old man you’re hit in the face as Tommy Körberg holds nothing back and bellows “OH’ HOOOOOOOOOOOOLY NIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!” He always looks so pleased with himself.

Let’s get back to the end of school ceremony. Swedish couples usually tell the priest before a wedding ceremony not to mention the lord. But they love to get married in a church “because it’s such a nice building.” That’s the real reason the school year is ended there. The ceiling is high and the windows are tall and colorful. It lends some extravagance to an otherwise rather ordinary occasion. Sure, there are some saints on the walls but they can be easily ignored. 

I wore a hockey jersey to one of these end-of-school-ceremonies. It was Peter Forsberg’s number 21 from his time in Denver with the Colorado Avalanche. He was my childhood idol. I stuck out like a sore thumb, but in my opinion, it was the nicest shirt I had. It would take more than a decade before I became a total fashionista. Ripped skinny jeans, Dr. Martens, denim jackets, the whole shebang. The Americans thought I was gay. I assume they think anyone who doesn’t wear khakis, a plaid shirt, and a Patagonia fleece vest, is gay.

© 2021 Oscar Blomqvist

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Oscar Blomqvist
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Added on February 8, 2021
Last Updated on February 8, 2021
Tags: school, young adult, new adult, coming of age, math, Sweden, friendships, mental health


Oscar Blomqvist
Oscar Blomqvist

Charlottesville, VA

I wrote a story. I think it's actually rather good, or at least okay. I thought I would post it here. Let me know what you think - [email protected] more..