- a person who is an expert skier.
Kala stared at the swollen mass that no longer resembled her knee. Her skin was a mixture of browns and blues with splotches of purple. Painkillers numbed her senses, but did nothing to diminish the fury swirling inside.
The Times had dubbed her the “Kanone of Kona.” Her family had been so proud. Even her dad had showed the article to his people at his shop. That moment had been the best. But now it seemed like it all happened so long ago.
She was the phenom, the wunderkind from humble beginnings–the slice of Americana that the public drank down like marshmallows and cocoa on a cold day.
Her career was shot. The first MRI confirmed what Dr. G had suspected. Everything was mangled–bone, tendons, muscles were in disrepair. Dr. G had been with her since her late teens. He was the best around, but even he was leaning toward a diagnosis of disability and physical therapy with slim chances of walking normally.
Tears stung her eyes. She closed them, resisting the urge to cry, but images of the broad oaks rushing at her filled her vision.
She knew the truth. Like a brand new car totaled in an instant, she no longer had any value. All the contracts, sponsorship opportunities–her life–would be nonexistent. If she recovered at all she may be able to help brand some government sports initiative, but nothing of prestige making any real money.
It was over. All of it.
Kala’s body shook with rage.
“Hey…Kala…” Gavin placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. “It’s okay.”
“Really?!” Her face felt weird. Words felt fuller in her mouth, sounding strange to her own ears. “I’m too broken to ski!”
“Kala…you’re lucky you’re even alive! You could’ve died.”
She was shocked that Gavin wasn’t more upset. A top trainer and a former Olympian, Gavin MacNamaro had worked with her for the past three years with hopes of grabbing gold in another two. He was as dedicated as a coach as she was as an athlete. Of anyone, he should’ve been just as upset, if not more.
“I wish I’d died…”
“Stop! Don’t say that!”
Now Gavin was mad, but it wasn’t about the destruction of her career or a shot at the Olympics. It was about the thought of losing her.
Kala strained to calm herself. She knew they shouldn’t have started dating. It was confusing things.
Gavin placed tender fingers beneath Kala’s bandaged chin. She twisted away, but winced, realizing she wasn’t able to fully move her head.
“I know you’re angry. I get it; I do. I’ve been in this same place, but I am not leaving you…”
Rage brewed within her.
“You may never ski again, but I don’t care. That doesn’t matter to me,” Gavin breathed. “You matter more to me than the sport. I love you for you.”
Tears spilled from Kala’s eyes.
She wished she could explain it all to him. Yes, he’d had his own set of injuries, including the last one that ended his career seven years ago, but this was different.
The truth was she would gladly give up everything, including him, in order to ski again. Looking into Gavin’s eyes, she knew the time would come when this fact would gut him as she sacrificed anything and everything to do the only thing she was born to do.
Gavin shook his head at his own untimely displays of emotion and feigned a weak smile.
“Let’s just get through the next few months and focus on healing up, okay? Then we’ll focus on the PT…”
“Yeah,” Kala said, with as much strength as she could muster, well aware that somewhere in her mind she was formulating another plan. “Let’s do that.”