Hey there! I'm Vivian. Sometimes I write about life and sometimes I write about teaching.

Inspired by Fran McVeigh‘s time-bending post…

Based on a true story.

“Okay I’ll be back in the afternoon. Text me if you need anything.” I take one last look at my 21-year-old stepson sitting in the hotel room figuring out the TV. His leg elevated on the chair, crutches leaning against the bed next to him.
“Yeah, I’ll be fine.”
I head out and start walking back to class at Teachers College with a skateboard under my arm.

And before that…
“Oh my god! Are you okay? What happened?” My stepson is in the ER at Mt. Sinai hospital. He’s waiting to be discharged. Luckily it was only a sprain. I sit with him as we wait for the doctor to come back. He needs to stay off his foot for awhile and take some over-the-counter painkillers if the pain gets to be too much.
“Okay, thanks Doctor.”
Terren and I take a Lyft back to the hotel.

And before that…
Bzzzz. Bzzzz.
Text from husband: Terren doesn’t have his insurance card and he’s in the ER.
Me: That’s not funny.
Husband: I’m not joking. He says he’s at Mt. Sinai.
I whisper to my friend, “Take good notes. I’ve got to get to the hospital. Something’s happened to Terren.”

And before that…
Terren skateboards down Broadway away from Teachers College and ready for a day of adventure on his own in New York City. Let me try some of my old tricks he says to himself. Jump…flip…bam. “Aaaaaaah!” He’s on the ground gripping his ankle in pain. A stranger stops, “Do you want me to call an ambulance?” she asks. “No, no, no. I’ll be okay,” Terren answers. He’s imagining the possible bill for an ambulance. “Okay, well, there’s a hospital a few blocks away if you go east.”

And before that…
“Hey Cornelius, this is my stepson Terren. Thanks so much letting him borrow a skateboard.”
“Yeah, thanks.” Terren says shyly.
“No problem, ” Cornelius smiles.


  1. franmcveigh says:

    Awesome story. Not the trip to the ER or the crutches. But that you were at TCRWP and that the skateboard came from Cornelius! Thanks for the shoutout!

  2. I am beginning to love this flashback format. Your piece is the third one I read today, and I am totally into it. The dialogue really brought this to life.

  3. WOWilkinson says:

    Thanks for sharing. I’ve been meaning to try this format too. It’s interesting to see how the conflict emerges differently in reverse.

  4. arjeha says:

    I love the format of starting at the end and working toward the beginning. One of my favorite books, The October List by Jeffery Deaver is written this way. Glad it was nothing more than a sprain even though that is bad enough.

  5. Rita K. says:

    First time I’ve seen this flashback format and I love it. You did a great job with this story and have inspired me.

  6. I love this format and will give it a try on a day when I have a bit more oomph! what you’ve done here, such a great story featuring Terren and his skateboard misadventure. He looks no worse for the wear and is probably out skating with the best of them again, no doubt.

  7. A fascinating twist on storytelling. Really interesting!

  8. Lainie Levin says:

    What a great format for relating a story. First of all, I’m DEFINITELY going to have to give this a spin for myself. And after that (see what I did there?) I’ll have to share it with my students so THEY can give it a spin. And after that I’m going to have to start a list of all the cool strategies and forms I want to try in my own writing. And after that I’ll have to solicit others’ ideas in the comments. And after that…

  9. amyilene says:

    I love how you wove this all together! The craft is impressive.

  10. Love this … I’m trying this structure as well. I loved it from the first time I read it. I think yours will help me with mine. Love that he made his way to the hospital … that says so much in one line.

  11. cmargocs says:

    This was fun (if not vicariously painful) to read! I hope Terren heals quickly. And yes, will have to try this style out before the end of the month!

  12. A terrific (yet painful) flashback slice! I could see something like this happening on a TV show of some sort! Now, who would play your family, that’s the question of the day?!? 🙂

    Thanks for sharing with us today!

  13. Yes I love the rewinding of the whole story, it works really well for accidents like this, the aftermath before the prelim that caused it all!

  14. This format works so well in telling this story. The dialogue also really makes it pop. So glad Lainie linked this to her post today. Wishing Terren a speedy recovery.

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