Actually, my friend and I were leaping from one bed to another, back and forth in the guest bedroom of my grandmother's house. My friend suggested that we hold hands and jump together, and though I was a cautious, rule-abiding child and perfectly aware that I was doing something very, very stupid, I agreed. We stood on the taller bed and she took my hand. Her palm was damp and, though I was a year older, larger than mine.
"All right," she said. "We'll count to three and we'll jump."
This, I think, must be the origin of my obsession with language and its imprecisions. We counted out loud, together, and when we reached three my friend tightened her grip on my hand and jumped.
I did not.
I'd expected to take the leap a moment later, to shout "One, two, three, JUMP!" and land safely together on the other side. Instead I fell, my right hand trapped in hers, and my left arm slammed hard into the wooden frame of the bed.
It wasn't a very serious break. My grandmother didn't even realize I needed to be taken to the hospital until the next day, though I sometimes wonder if this wasn't simply because I, like many people prone to melodrama, tend to keep my mouth shut when something is truly wrong. At the hospital they put a cast on my arm and gave me a navy blue sling that itched my shoulder.
My friend drew a dog on my cast with a red permanent marker. I said that it looked more like a possum, or maybe an embarrassed cow. She gave me a look that seemed to say, "It's sort of surprising that you don't break bones more often."
She wasn't wrong.