It’s not your average Wednesday. I have a carrot at my disposal. A carrot dangling in front of them. If they get their homework done, double quick, they can come to Power City with me. Our television burnt itself out a couple of days ago. It fizzed and buzzed and spoke quietly without any picture. It’s had enough. I fizz and buzz and speak quietly at times too, indicating a little burn out, only nobody seems to notice. Oh well. We’ve been making do with a borrowed tiny joke of a yoke. It’s time now to get a new one. The paltry savings have been attacked and further slashed. In my pocket there’s enough to get us a replacement. Maybe a little bigger than the last one. They all want to come but there’s only one proving it so far. Marque 5 works eagerly with his eye on the carrot. The others are faffing around saying they’ll start any second now, they promise, and this is my only problem, the logistics of homework. Until.
There’s a bellow and a yelp. We live in a house full of bellows and yelps. But there’s something different about this one. It isn’t any louder. But I know before I see. There’s something very real and immediate about this one. I take tentative steps out of the sitting room. Perhaps if I tiptoe whatever it is will simply go away. I give it a stealthy whirl only to be greeted by a scene straight out of a gore movie. Marque 4 holds the underside of his wrist up to me. A large shard of glass protrudes from it. It looks like a dagger. Blood drips down and splashes onto the floorboards. He looks at me, imploringly. He thinks I’ll know exactly what to do. Any mother worth her salt will know exactly what to do. This mother does what she always does when confronted with one of her kids badly hurt. She is not proud of it. She is unable to stop it. She puts her hands on her head and lets out a scream. Perhaps it’s piercing. Perhaps it’s blood curdling. I don’t know. I am elsewhere. You’d have to ask the kids. Scream first, to calm everyone down and reassure the injured child, and then act. It works a treat. I tell him ‘it’s ok, it’s ok, I’m just going to pull the glass out’ and he trusts me, which is miraculous, considering. I ease it out and the blood gushes faster now and I’m thinking about arteries and looking for something to stem the flow. Toilet paper. I stand there unravelling toilet paper until there’s a train of it, blood soaked, spinning down the hall.
‘What are you doing?’ Someone is saying.
‘Mum, MUM, what are you doing?’
What does it look like, I’m mopping up blood, what do you mean what am I doing?
‘Mum, mum, you’ve got to get him seen’.
Seen. Ah yes. Seen. My eyes are drawn to what’s on display from the gaping wound.
‘Is that his muscle?’ one of them asks. I look at whoever but I do not answer. I don’t know what it is, but we shouldn’t be able to see it.
‘Mum’ marque 1’s pleas are getting louder. ‘Mum, you’ve got to get him to swiftcare. NOW’.
‘Just calm down everyone’ I say, which is rich, considering.
‘Don’t we have a first aid kit?’ I ask marque 1. The toilet paper is losing the battle.
‘I think I’m going to faint’ marque 4 pipes up. He really needs some reassurance. Anyone?
‘You won’t faint, just sit down for a minute, we’ll get you bandaged up and take you to Swiftcare’. At last. Somebody is puppeteering me into making some sense. Marque 1 finds the first aid kit and in it a roll of bandage that is perfect for the occasion. He applies it. The blood magically doesn’t seep straight through.
In the car marque 2 holds marque 4’s hand, upright to stop the blood loss. I look at them in the mirror. There’s something glistening on marque 2s cheek. I think now about how quiet he was in the midst of it. He internalised his scream. Marque 3 went bright red with shock when he saw it. Then he kicked into action. Got his boots on ready to go. We all have our own ways of processing traumatic events. I wish mine was a little bit more like theirs.
In the heat of it I forget to assess how it happened. It doesn’t seem relevant. It has happened and it needs to be sorted, quickly. I haven’t let their Dad know either, which seems odd now. Usually that’s the first thing I do. It must be a real emergency – I haven’t had a second to contact him. Marque 3 texts him something along the lines of ‘we’re off to Swifcare’ which prompts an immediate call back. Who? What? How? Where?
I give over our details at the desk, triumphantly. We rejoined our health insurance in March when some deadline seemed to be telling us that if we didn’t we’d be badly stung in the future. The lady click clacks the details into the computer, dead pan, and then tells me it has been cancelled. I tell her it most certainly has not, a queue forming behind me now as she tries different versions of us, puts in different names each time throwing up the same result. Their hands are tied, she tells me kindly. They can only go by what they see on the screen. We’ll be charged as if we have no cover whatsoever. The TV cash in the pocket is going to come in handy after all.
The triage nurse quizzes us, myself and marque 4. Exactly what happened and exactly how did it happen? I seem to be shrugging my shoulders.
‘I don’t know, I wasn’t there’ I say at which her nose wrinkles in disapproval. Marque 4 tells her that the glass was already cracked in the door. It happened a long time ago. That he was just trying to open the door when the glass fell out on top of him. She’s looking sterner by the second. Stern and confused. Typing her notes furiously. Typing them for the social services, no doubt.
‘So you were just trying to open the kitchen door when the glass fell out on top of you?’ she asks for clarification for the courts.
‘Yeah’ he says. Not the whole glass door I want to say, but I’ve no energy left in me to speak at all. A little square panel was cracked. That’s what he’s on about. Oh well.
They all want to come into the doctor’s room with him. They want to help him to be stitched. To offer up ridiculous black humoured jokes that marque 4 thrives on. They are not allowed. It’s just useless old me there to tell him the lies about it not hurting, not one bit.
‘Do you want an x-Ray to see if there’s any glass left in it?’ the doctor asks.
‘Ah no’ I say, adding the cost of the X-Ray onto the already massive bill. It’ll be a one inch TV by the time we’re finished here. I know, I know. Bad, bad mother.
‘Sure I pulled the glass out myself’ I say wishing I wasn’t being put in this position. Either he needs an x-Ray or he doesn’t and surely the doctor decides that?
The doctor sets about releasing the local anaesthetic into a very nervous squirming little boy. The brothers really would be good to have in here. I hold his legs and witter on about all the lovely things we’ll do tomorrow.
‘Why, what’s on tomorrow‘ the doctor enquires. It doesn’t seem to have struck him that this little person will be on a much deserved day off school, frolicking about with his dear old mother. The brothers announced this to us on the way here in the car. Rightly so.
I wake from a nightmare. In it little pieces of glass are reeking havoc under stitched skin. The next day my sister checks the wound and tells me it looks good. We’ll know soon enough if there’s a problem which she doesn’t expect there to be. We also find out that the health insurer had made a mistake and we are to be reimbursed. But you can’t reimburse for a mother’s guilt, can you? For the nerves frayed by not getting her child x-rayed when he might need it? Some fat bill that would be. However, back to reality, it does mean that a trip to Power City is back on the cards. Such fickle creatures are we.