It looked too steep to begin with. Funny that, how something can look so utterly dangerous, so completely bad and yet so inexplicably tempting. The descent drew me in as I surveyed the smooth, grass covered surface, the narrow soil path and the undergrowth that gripped it on both sides. The feeling was one I had known before. It had got the better of me that time and I'd been lucky to walk away from the result, bleeding convincingly from a head wound. I ran my fingers across the bottom edge of my helmet and traced out the ridge of the now old scar, which sat just above my sunglasses.

The ground looked quite tame and the cyclable path widened towards the lower half of the slope. There were walkers down there and I allowed them time to wander further from the bottom while I took in the details of the ground. The cover provided by the grass suggested there was no loose dirt to eat up my grip. I shifted my weight back on the saddle and eased off on the brakes.

The first sign that I'd made a mistake was when I began accelerating more rapidly than I had predicted. I squeezed the brake levers slightly, being careful not to overdo the front and lock the wheel. I didn't need any more signs once I realised the grass was wet. Just a few seconds into the roll I found I could no longer use my back brake at all. The slightest pressure from my gloved fingers brought on a full lock and the tire slipped freely across the green ice beneath. At this point panic began to rise within me only to be greeted by the absolute knowledge that my choice to make the descent had been absolutely wrong.

With no means of controlling my speed I started to rush down the hill and to my terror, I discovered the ground was not as smooth as I had thought, but was covered in lots of small bumps. Each one the front wheel hit jarred my handlebars upwards, hurting my wrists and demanding all my strength just to point them the way I wanted. Each one that met my back wheel kicked the seat up into my rear end and lifted me clear of the bike. As my speed increased the bumps hit harder, my feet started to lose the pedals and I found myself half flying down the hill, bouncing above a bike I was clinging onto for dear life. Control of my plight slipped from me as did cries of fear as my steering became less and less effective.

Just as I had almost lost hope I cleared the steepest section and things almost seemed to be going my way. I was nearing the run off area I had seen from the top and if I could just hold my course it was possible the softer undergrowth would slow me down. Right then a large rut thudded under me and shoved me sideways. I no longer had any choice of direction, but the shear instinctual fear of injury forced me to do whatever I could to hold the bike upright. I flashed past a young tree, surrounded by a barbed wire topped wooden fence and found myself pointing directly at a large grassy ramp.

I believe I was already falling as I hit the mound. My front end was thrown upwards and I surrendered the handlebars to bring my hands up and cover my face. As I did so I looked down at my right foot as the spinning tire lifted it into the forks and my front wheel locked. Then the back wheel hit and the saddle's impact on my coccyx felt like a cannon ball. I rolled in mid air and discovered a frightening, yet beautifully restful moment of clarity. I cursed myself for having done it again. I'd made the same mistake twice and I knew I'd have to pay, but then I realised I was wearing my helmet this time and a blend of relief and self congratulation lit up my head. It was immediately destroyed as I thought of my sunglasses. Childhood experience had taught me that glass and eyeballs don't make good partners.

My head brushed against something hard, the ground, and the moment vanished. My legs came up and my head went down as I took on the pheotal position, but still somehow managed to fend my bike off with my arms. Even then I was able to think how nasty it would be to break my arms, but I knew that getting hit in the face by a metal cog was no gentle alternative. My back thumped the ground next and my bike was thrown over me, tumbling down the hill to rest. I had no notion of how far I'd flown from the mound as I came to a stop. All I knew was that something in my back was seriously wrong.

I had never known pain like it. I could believe that this was what it felt like to break your spine. It was pain like fire, like I was being crushed in a vice, like I'd been impailed on a spike. As the sun beat down the only thing I could find to alleviate the terror was that I could move my legs. Move them I did. I could find no way to ease the agony as I rithed around, rolled over and over, clasped my head and protested at the injustice of life. I tore off my helmet and thanked myself for having the straps over my glasses. They'd stayed in place the whole time. As I twisted and contorted my body on the wet grass, I pulled off my cycling gloves and found part of the flesh from my thumb stuck to my palm. I couldn't even feel it as I picked it off and then reached back down to clutch my spine. I could move my legs. I couldn't have done any proper damage. The pain would ease. It would be ok. I would be ok.

An hour later I felt I could sit up. It fucking hurt.

Another hour later I managed to get to my feet. It fucking hurt, but the worst of it had passed.

That next day I made my way home by train and pushed my bike the four and a half miles back from the station. I was pleased to find it wasn't too badly damaged. The back wheel was bent in half, but still went round. The front wheel had a couple of minor wobbles in it. One bar end had twisted slightly downwards and the back reflector was bent. I didn't feel I could ride it.

Well mothers, eh? Mine sent me to the local doctor to get my back checked out. I got pain killers and an x-ray appointment. Just to make sure it's ok, but just take care and don't do anything that hurts for a while. Cool.

Five days after the hill the appointment came up. Dad dropped me off outside the hospital and I walked in. They x-rayed me. They looked a little unsettled. They strapped me to a hard stretcher and rushed me by ambulance to see an expert in another hospital. They x-rayed me some more, but this time they wouldn't let me move. Instead a team of four nurses log rolled me and they all looked quite stressed. The expert told me I'd crushed l3. I'd broken my back. If I'd been unlucky and it had been unstable, a single movement could have caused the bone to slip through my spinal cord and it would have paralysed me instantly and permanently. I looked a little unsettled.

I couldn't ride my bike for six months. They said my back might be back to normal in a year. They didn't know. My doctor's never seen anyone my age with a wedge fracture before.

Next time it looks too steep... I'm not going down.

I was lying in my bed, looking at the ceiling, and suddenly I stood up - I had finally decided to do it. I took my backpack, it had contained this 3 metre piece of steel cable for about half a year already, I put on my shoes and left.

When I arrived at the bridge, it was rather quiet there, no wind or anything, so I tied the cable around the railing, put the other end around my neck, climbed the edge, and jumped down.

It was a highway bridge, with about 10 metres of height, with a few cars driving by occasionally. So, I fell, and when the cable was pulled tight around my neck, it snapped and I kept falling. It felt like flying. When I landed, I broke my backbone, a piece of bone pressed hard against my spinal cord, and my legs were paralyzed.

It takes a long time, a few years, for this kind of fracture to heal completely. Soon I'll be in a wheelchair, maybe even for the rest of my life. But right now, after a month from the injury, it's still too early, the doctor says, to let me sit aywhere, so I spend my days lying down, surfing the Internet with my laptop.

But I guess it wasn't my time to pass away yet.

Spinal fractures have to heal by themselves, just like any other fracture, there really is no medicine to help with that. Broken arms and legs are casted, to restrict movements, but since that is impossible with a broken backbone, you just have to lie down, not to strain your back. Those whose legs aren't that paralyzed, are allowed to walk, it's a weird situation, you can lie down or stand up, but sitting is forbidden by the doctors, at least in for the first few months.

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