Time seemed to turn into slow motion as it toppled unsteadily. By then it was too late – things were set in motion. I had already stumbled and started to fall before I really knew what was going on. Looking back, I guess it was my own fault for not treading carefully enough (or perhaps I was treading too lightly?), but in that moment of freefall, I felt a confusing mix of emotions rush through me.
First there was panic. Was this really happening? Was it a cruel joke? Had I been pushed too far? These thoughts flashed through my head faster than I had time to truly contemplate them. Pitching forward, the panic had overwhelmed my senses, causing me to reach out for a support – anything to grasp on to.
Alas, there was none, and my outstretched form, arms flailing wildly, must have looked particularly comical to any onlookers. But how could I even think about that right now? Sure, I had fallen before – but not like this. I had also been hurt before – but again, not like this. They say ‘what doesn't kill you makes you stronger’ and that things like this ‘help build character’. Such clichés can only exist because they are continually proven to be true, right? But that realisation always comes after the fact – it doesn't help you much during.
I was pretty much headfirst now – my legs a good distance behind me. A point comes when you realise you are just too far gone. You can’t do anything to stop it. You are a slave to the earth’s unrelenting pull. There is no fighting it.
That's when the panic gives way to anger. How dare this happen? To me? And at a time like this? What possible worse luck can a man have in this world? What fates had set me on this cruel collision course? In that moment I was so angry – angry for being pushed, angry for allowing to be pushed, for being caught off-guard like this. Angry at the weak will that had manifested itself in the form of my wobbly legs. My arms flailed even more wildly, for all the good that it did me.
I guess ultimately, I was angry at the feeling of utter powerlessness that I felt in my situation. Nothing that I could do would divert me from this path I was on. No way of slowing my fall – no way to avoid the catastrophe that was coming my way.
That's when finally, a strange sense of calm takes over. It’s funny - when you have exhausted all the (admittedly limited) options you have – it all changes. You accept there isn’t actually anything you can do. So I resigned myself to my fate, accepting it – no, embracing it. If this was going to happen to me then I would meet it head on. Go out with a bang and damn the consequences!
My arms stopped flailing and rested calmly at my side, my eyes closed in quiet acceptance. There was no prevention. No escape. This was to be my fate.
I crashed headlong into the antique vase – my full body weight knocking it clean off its stand. Upon meeting the ground, there could be no other outcome. The priceless object shattered into hundreds of pieces, skidding out across the museum floor like a shotgun burst of china. In the suddenly hushed room, all eyes were on me. I lay motionless amongst the debris, feigning death.
That’ll teach her.
22th September 2011