Tonight the light of love is in your eyes, But will you love me tomorrow? She snapped off the CD player. Daydreaming out the window, she saw the little girl go down on the rough concrete of the Playground and now blood was trickling down from her knee. Another girl had pushed her; it didn’t look deliberate just a friendly push, you can’t keep them from playing rough at times. Maybe they had taken this anti-bullying thing too far. They liked to play rough at times and you couldn’t stop it. Katie, the teacher with playground duty today, took some wipes out her purse and staunched the blood on her knee and pointed toward the Nurse’s office on the second floor of the school.
She took out the supplies from the medical cabinet: rolled gauze, medical scissors, antiseptic, and tape. She laid it out on the table. The teacher probably didn’t need to send the little girl upstairs to the nurse for this kind of scrape, but they were using any kind of excuse to send her to the Nurse’s office these days. It had all started about six weeks ago.
The Principal had asked Tina, the little girl’s teacher, and the School Counselor together for a meeting. The Principal said, ” I thought that we would evaluate the facts on the ground.” Tina had heard him use that phrase before, “facts on the ground”. Had he been in the military? The Principal also liked to say,”I know my people.” And he did, he had been born here, and except for college, had lived and taught in the county his whole life. Longer than Tina, she had only lived here for fifteen years.
The principal asked the teacher to start. The teacher said that she had noticed some ugly purple bruises on the little girl’s upper arms. When the teacher asked her what had happened. She had told her that some rough kids in the mobile home park had thrown her around in a touch football game. That didn’t sound plausible to the teacher so she sent her to Nurse K to have her look over the bruising.
Tina thought about the first time the little girl had come though her office door. The little girl had long dark brown hair, and Tina had noticed immediately how it was cut, the layering was so skillful, it lay so beautifully. She had a small nose and a gap toothed smile. Tina asked, “Tooth fairy been visiting.” The little girl smiled. Tina examined her arms and asked her how it had happened. “We started playing touch football, but it turned into tackle. When I had the ball, those rough boys started to swing me around by my arms,it went a litltle crazy” the little girl said. Tina, “Was your Mom upset?” “A little , but she says you have to fight back, don’t be a wimp.”
When Tina drifted back into the meeting the school counselor, a smug women who had married into a prosperous farm family, was speaking. The counselor said the little girl’s mother was a hair stylist over in town. She was a very popular stylist. The counselor knew this because she had been trying to get an appointment with her . She said that she was popular with the cowboy hat set over at the country western bar, AfterHours. The Counselor said that she had seen her riding on the back of a Harley with long dark haired guy.
Tina wondered what that meant. She didn’t like where this was going. She had ridden on the back of some Harleys in her time. She was a young women looking to have some fun while she still could. Still you couldn’t overlook those bruises. You had to take that serious.
The Principal asked Tina for her evaluation. Tina,” Their were serious bruises on her arm. The kind of bruises that are compatible with abuse, hard shaking, but there were no bruises around her neck, or anywhere else. The football story was believable. I don’t think that we have enough to make a referral to Child Protective Services.” The Principal, who had been born in the county, and had a lot of experience, said, “Because you have a Harley doesn’t make you an outlaw, and some bruises don’t necessarily mean child abuse. Let’s keep a good close watch on the situation. The teacher from the prior year said that he had never seen any problem.” Tina thought for a second second that he was going to say “Let’s keep a good eye…” The Principal, “Meeting adjourned,”
Now here she, the little girl, was standing in her doorway with blood trickling down her knee. The little girl, “Nurse K, I…” Tina , “I know,I saw it.” “Katie Jacobs pushed me when I wasn’t looking,” the little girl said. “I’m sure she didn’t mean it.”
Tina, “Come over here and let’s bandage that knee. “ She sat on the stool as Tina applied a wet wipe and cleaned up the wound and applied the antiseptic. She pressed the gauze on to the scrape and laid the first strip of tape over the knee. “Bend your leg a little.” Tina made a small crease in the tape so the bandage would adjust to the movement of the knee joint. Her bandages never sagged. It was a good job. She was proud of her bandaging skills. That came from experience.
To Be Continued
“Looks like your Mother cut your air,” Tina said. Tina swung the stool around to look at the back of her head. “wow, that’s some great cut.” Tina ran her fingers through her hair as she looked at her neck for any bruises. Thanks God, none there. She twirled back around and checked her upper arms. “Looks like all those bruises are all healed up,” Tina. The Little Girl, “I love your blonde hair, it’s the color of corn on the cob.” Tina laughed, “Thanks, I think, but that there is too much gray in it.” The Little Girl, “Mommy can cure that.” Tina, “I bet she can, I hear that she is a very good stylist.” Tina thought, I may have some gray, but I still have my figure, more than could be said for many a gal in this county.
As Tina was finishing off the bandaging, the Little girl asked, “How do you become a nurse?’ Tina, “You have to go to college.” The Little Girl, “They talked to us about thinking about going to college? What’s college, do you have to go away, what’s it like?”
“You can, but you can live at the University too. I went twice. The first time, I wasn’t serious, it was in Bloomington,,” Tina. “That’s far away, isn’t it ? Where’d you live?” The Little Girl.
“I lived at Willkie Co-op. It was a cooperative residential dormitory. The guys lived in one building and the girls in the other. We shared meals and took care of all our own housekeeping chores: serving and dish cleaning and vacuuming. It was wonderful fun. The people I knew were close to each other. They were the best kind of people.” This was bringing back some memories, she steered the conversation back on to going to college. “The second time, I went in California, that was different , I had kids then , but I knew I wanted to be a nurse, I got through it, I stuck with it.” This brought back some memories too. There had been some rough time in California, she had got real low out there. “Then I moved back to Indiana, and I’ve been here ever since.” Tina dropped the stool down and patted the little girl on the shoulder, “OK, you’re all fixed up. Off you go.” The Little Girl, “Nurse K., did you ever see those people again, you know the people from the first time?”
“No, I never have. I left Indiana after college. Some people, you only know once, and that is all. Now off you go and remember, no getting even with Katie Jacobs,” Tina. “Okaaay,” the Little Girl said as she skipped out the door.
Tina went back to the cabinet and switched on the CD player, she went back to the window where she saw the Little Girl run out on to the playground. The Little Girl ran up to the girl that pushed her, she pointed at her bandaged knee, they talked for a minute, and then ran off together, holding hands. Tina grinned. The song came back on.
So tell me now and I won’t ask again/ Will you still love me tomorrow.
Then she thought about the Co-op again. She thought about those people, and on that place, and in that time, and she was lost to it. She was far away in the past now.
This Is The End