"Why me?" Okay, so it sounded like whining, but I don't like to write stories, anything just to have them eviscerated by high school critics. A short story? A single event? With the luxury of a defeated groan I accepted both assignment and yellow pass.

In my spare time I tried to think of something to write about, inspiration just wouldn't come. I figured that perhaps after midterm week I would sit myself in front of the computer and type.

Never got that far.

Friday came, I took my last exam. Prepared to enjoy a nearly full day off, I went to look for a friend. Unfortunately she was broke, so we couldn't go to the movies as planned. We talked on an endless line of subjects, noting the sound of footsteps on the stairs above our head and regarding the legion of spider webs, also over our heads. Her mother arrived, and gave me a ride home, in her new minivan.

In my driveway I struggled to get out of the van. I'm not used to doors that lock automatically over a certain speed or buttons that have to be pushed while sliding the door back. Being a member of the type that can encounter difficulty in remaining vertical while traveling down stairs, this took me some time. As I walked toward the door I noticed our poor rhododendron bush. It was covered in at least a half inch of ice, encased like an ancient insect in amber. I feared it would be killed if we got more ice that night.

I rustled through the front pouch of my backpack, searching through my keys amidst all the other junk there. After ripping out tissue and various pens I found them. Unlocking the door, I went inside and threw my backpack on the floor. Minutes later the phone rang; it was my mother. She requested I work on the dishes at some point during the day. We talked a few more moments, I hung up. Planning to procrastinate, I left the cleaning and decided to go play on the computer. As I passed by the oven I noted a pot still full of water. I had to remember to clean it later, but it seemed a pity to waste all that water. Then the misguided light bulb in my head went off.

There was a plan, I would heat the water and then pour it onto the rhody, not enough ice would melt to let the heat harm the plant, but there would be less ice to hurt it if we had another storm. I put the heat on under the pot and continued upstairs. I kicked off my sneakers, put on slippers, and proceeded to waste time. After awhile I went back downstairs.

The water was ready; I took the handle and went outside. Little white flakes had drifted down from the sky, making the ground slick. I hadn't noticed this, that is until I slid and fell, the whole pot of boiling water splashing on me.

I have never, ever hurt that badly before. The heat was incredible, searing. I couldn't help it, I started to scream, and cry. As soon as I got up I ran upstairs and jumped into a cold shower. I could see, and feel my skin coming off. Hysterical and only semi-coherent I phoned my mother. I eventually ended up in the emergency room.

Next thing I knew I was wearing a hospital gown lying on one of those funny beds. Looking around me was no more calming than the bags of ice pressed against my side. Despite being prone to minor injury, the only other time I was in the hospital for personal injuries I was too young to remember, so I'm not used to the scene. The large stainless steel cabinets full of instruments and bandages and god-knows-what struck me as intimidating. The large light above me was turned off, but the circular metal shape with a protruding center looked like a deadly laser-ray thing from some James Bond film or the setting for an X-files episode. (Appropriately enough, as my skin had started to ooze and blister badly, also like something out of X-files.)

Antibacterial cream and a pain killer later, I felt nearly human again. Human enough to begin to feel really stupid about what I did. I was consoled that it was just an accident. Maybe, but I still felt rather sheepish about it. Since then I've heard stories about much larger lapses of judgment, one about throwing gasoline on a fire and another about using rubber cement to light a snowball on fire. . .

Then came another scene straight from a movie. My burns were covered in gauze, then I was wrapped in more and more and more. It was what I would imagine being a mummy to feel like. What felt like yards of gauze were wrapped around me before I was ready to go home. Boris Karloff, eat your heart out.

I had to go back the next day and get the dead skin cut off and treated with antibacterial cream before preparing for my role in "The Mummy II." A week later I'm still bandaged and sore.

My horticultural career nipped in the bud.

Oh, and the rhody is fine.

(yeah, the story's true- so much for being gifted)