we got a bleeder

Quarantine-on Mags-is a funny phenomenon. She isn't one intimidated by her own company, so to be alone for hours a day isn't a particularly lonely gig.
She sews. She paints.

She is also-thankfully--pretty self-propelled. She gets up, does her work, makes breakfast. Then lunch. Then watches scads of creepy detective shows and by the time I arrive home, she is quite happy to take on company again. Or. She takes a nap. Could go either way.

This round of quarantine is progressing like the others. Gobs of dishes. Half begun loads of laundry--an attempt at resourcefulness that I appreciate.


"Mom?" She had come up the stairs after we ate dinner. I was in the back bedroom.


I thought maybe it was the TV. At first, at least, that's what I had mistaken it for. But the mom-radar blinked on. Among all the other sounds, voices, shouts of "Kingdom" on TV--I picked out hers. Faint. But making her way to me.

"MOTHER!" Her exasperated last attempt. In a tone that makes me laugh.

I came around the corner and she was standing in the kitchen, hesitant to travel further than the tile. "I think I cut my foot."

And, listen. Can I thank God Dan was here? I mean, literally, I thank God for him every single day. But can I thank the lord-sweet-baby-Jesus that he was here in this moment. Because--I mean, we had a bleeder.

"SIT DOWN!" He said as she giggled at his paw-hands holding her oddly tiny feet. "You are getting your COVID blood all over the place!"

[Author's Note: She does NOT have COVID]

"I'll just clean this..." I drifted off because blood and me? We are not friends and I just can't. I can't.

"Get the hydrogen peroxide, babe. She will need stitches."

"Okay," I switched directions. "I'll. Okay. Um. It's. I'm not sure."

I went in search of my hydrogen peroxide and all the while I wondered where to go. So many options. And yet--none? I mean, she's quarantined. But. Where? Mercy? Urgent Care? The ER? Dear God, the ER?

The questions. Seemed insurmountable to me even though I could intellectually tell life wasn't about to stop.

"GET. STOP!" I heard what I could best and only describe as swatting in the other room. "Stop trying to look at it, you little psycho!" I hear Dan say and I heard Maggie laugh. A cheerful bubble of a sound that would NOT be the sounds if she was my patient.

But he wrapped her foot. Haragued her into following his instructions and we left.

I went to one place. They were closed.
Another? Just a "call center".
Then I went to the next place on my list. The Urgent Care on Kisker. Side entrance. Shady. Not sure, I left Mags in the car and went in.

At a glance it seemed a little drab. Cheerless. A Hallmark Movie turned down low. Bad lighting. A bit of a dull security guard on duty. Maybe not dull. Maybe just tired.

I explained the situation. That she was on quarantine, but needed stitches.
He said, "Hang on, let me ask if they can do it."

And from that point forward--it was literally a BLAST. Well, a $50 blast. The security guard, the pediatric nurse practitioner. The lady who checks you in. The OTHER lady who checks you in.

All--I'm not kidding you--ALL came out to the waiting room to talk to Mags. To look at her foot.

"Well, we could cut it off?" The police guard/guy suggested. We were the only ones in there, this was high entertainment indeed.

"True," said the pediatric nurse. He looked at it from the top and then from the bottom.
"Well, which one's cheaper?" Asked the registrant.
And Mags just giggled and giggled some more.

"NO! Knock. It. Off!" Mags laughed up at the nurse. Older man. Possibly retired. I could tell she loved him for a million reasons. "Stop trying to look at it, you weirdo!!" And that even made me smile.

"Where do you go to school?" he asked her in the exam room.
"Francis Howell."
"Oh?" He said, "Which one?" There are two others--Howell North and Howell Central.
"Howell." She repeated again.
"Ah. The real one."

I thanked him, as we were finishing up (she DID just get it glued) for all their kindness. I mean--we were the only people there.

He said, "Honey, I got COVID tests in here all day long. And I gotta be honest--we were all just so damn glad to have SOMETHING ELSE TO DO. A cut on a foot? PERFECT!"

~originally published November 2021

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