Wayback, Early Afternoon

Needless to say, this had been going on WAY too long by now. Everyone was tired, annoyed and getting hungry. Mom was trying to deal with me and worry about the houseful of screaming kids she left Dad with at the same time. She was ready to crawl under a rock in shame, too. Apparently she made a decision. She walked over to me and took hold of my top knee and squeezed until I looked at her. "You stay right here on this table and don't you move!" she growled with a shake of her finger at my nose.

I had heard that one enough times to know she meant it. I nodded and curled back up. Then she left the room. I guess she asked the nurse to stay and watch me because I know she wouldn't leave me alone. I really don't remember anything but the dim room, the cold table, crying helplessly forever and a day and the pain in my hand.

She must have gone to a phone someplace. I can imagine the conversation. The phone would ring in the house with a hole in a wall, a hole in a door and a window stuck at the top of the frame. Three girls had been calmed down, dressed, put in front of breakfast and told Mom and Val will be back later. Val is fine. Mom is fine, eat your cereal! They would be watching cartoons in the living room with a Dad who was worried about how badly his oldest girl was hurt and how he was going to pay for a doctor.

Ring...Ring! Hello? Mate? It's me. I'm still at the hospital. She would have to explain that I was totally uncontrollable and wanted my Teddy Bear. It will be in her bed under the covers somewhere.... I know I have the car.

Dad would be grumbling over every option for getting a teddy bear to a little girl with no car and no one to watch the little kids. Mom would be trying to be calm and explaining why in h--- the bear had to be brought and, finally, she would break down and tell him I had not stopped crying and every time they touched my hand I screamed and what if she loses all her fingers...Oh, mate, please, find a way to get over here with the bear, we need you. Then the (real) operator would have broken in asking for more coins and Mom would not have had any so she would have had to hang up and start praying.

When she came back in the room I knew it even though my face was away from the door because the light from the hall sprayed into the room like a flashlight beam. The nurse left to get her lunch. Mom came over to me and started rubbing my back and telling me everything was going to be all right soon. Just be a brave girl a little longer. She had a whole list of nice things to say that I guess she learned from her mom.

The tears still would not stop but they were slowing and had lost considerable volumn. The rejected Panda stared at me from the chair where he had been forgotten. The eye of the storm, you might call it. We both rested while we waited. The almost peace couldn't last. The doctor came back.

I suppose I could be remembering him a little harshly but, I swear, when he came into the room and shut the door it was darker. There was no smile on his face this time. He looked at my mom and I could feel him looking at me, huddled over my mangled hand. I just KNEW he was going to be mean to me. My tears picked up some of the lost speed and I whimpered and snuffled loudly. He announced, "Mrs. P, I want you to leave the room while I take the X-Ray. Val will be just fine with me. He was trying to emote "firm" but it came across to me as menacing. "I'll have the nurse in with us so there's nothing to worry about," he continued, to placate my Mom.

I panted a little faster. I knew what he was going to do. If she left me alone with him he would mash my hand on that plate! To give Mom credit, inspite of her embarrasment, previous tears and stress she looked him right in the eye and explained, "I couldn't leave Val alone in a strange place, Doctor. She's too upset already." I wanted to cheer. It didn't last.

I guess he expected that answer because he gritted out between his teeth, "Then we will attempt to get the hand on the plate only ONE more time. If it can't be done you will both have to leave."

Mom and I looked at each other. Waves of tears stood in my eyes just waiting for their cue to flood my face. Mom wasn't doing much better. She explained very slowly, for the umpteenth time, that the plate was in front of a camera that would take a picture of my bones to see if they were broken and needed to be fixed. The tears cut loose but the sobbing held off. I just hiccupped now and then while she continued to tell me that it was very important to see if they needed mending. I HAD to put my hand flat on the plate to get a good picture or we would have to do it again and it would hurt again. Would I try again, like a good girl?

I nodded helplessly. Again, they put my bed by the machine, brought the plate down where I could reach it and squared it up. I knew what was coming and I started gulping back cries as hard as I could. Squeeks kept sneaking out between my teeth. I slid my legs under the strange table. My right hand moved down and rested on my lap. I twisted a little sideways so my armpit was at the edge of the table and slowly brought my crumpled hand over plate on the end of my crimped elbow.

The nurse went into the small room in the corner. My Mom stayed behind me, rubbing my back. The Doctor was across the plate from me. By minute particles I moved my hand closer to the plate. When there was about a half inch to go I started to un-curl my fingers v-e-r-y----s-l-o-w-l-y. I was crying again. I don't know how. There shouldn't be a tear left in my body anywhere. But, Oh, how it HURT!

I was almost there when the Doctor's hand shot out like a hen's beak after a worm and grabbed my wrist. I had been watching my hand and concentrating on carefully unfolding it. He startled me and it HURT! I was back at full speed, full volumn as quick as a wink. He was hurting me. I couldn't pull my hand back!

Mom shouted, "DOCTOR!" in an admonishing tone. He snapped, "Mrs. P!!", I screamed over both of them as they glared at each other.

Then the Angel of Death came for me on a glittering path of light.

I was almost right. The door was flung open. I had tears going full blast and when the door opened into the dark room it look like the light was glittering. And my eyes were squinted up in pain so it looked like a big, black angel backlighted in the door.

It was my Dad. He had one hand on the door knob and in the other he held my bear. I guess he would have heard me clear from the waiting room and might have gotten a little worked up on his way in. I must have sounded just about as bad as I had when the window first landed on my hand.

Dad strode three big steps into the room. He looked at the three of us with his "What is going on here!" face. He gave a second look at the doctor who quickly let go of my wrist. He moved Mom and leaned over behind me on the table. I looked up into his face and knew he was angry. I also knew he wasn't angry with me. Dad was angry with the Doctor! I wasn't in trouble, now, the Doctor was. I sighed with relief.

"What's she supposed to do?" he growled into the face of the Doctor.

The Doctor was suddenly quiet, polite and considerate. "We want her to lay her hand flat on the center of the plate so we can take an X-ray," he stated in a voice like a teacher's. "I guess it is quite painful for her, " he finished.

Dad knew I wasn't stupid, not by a long shot. He usually talked to me just like I was grown up. I was crying more softly now and my hand was clutched next to my chest again. "Val," he said, "is that right?"

I looked at him above me. His face looked funny upside down but I didn't even grin. I nodded to him. He pulled my good hand gently to the right, stuffed my wonderful Teddy into it and let it go. I hugged Teddy - hard! "They can't make it stop hurting till they get the picture. Here's your damned bear. Put your hand on the plate."

I twisted and laid my bent arm across the plate and put each finger flat one at a time. My face was buried in my bear while I screamed into his tummy. The Doctor did NOT grab me this time.

The nurse did something that hummed and clicked and the doctor said, "We will have the results in about an hour, come back then. He went out, leaving the door open behind him.

My ordeal was over.

Dad picked me up and I calmed down a lot. All that was left of my 5 hour freak out were the hiccups and the mess.

We walked a little way down the hall to a lady's room door. Dad put me down and told us, "I'll meet you in the waiting room."

Mom and I went in to do the routine. I could have done it but Mom did it for me. She ran the water till it was good and cold while she got some brown paper towels from the dispenser then soaked them good. She laid one on the back of my neck and used the others to wash my face and hands and arms and knees and legs. Cooling down was part of the routine.

Using some dry ones she went after the mess on my shirt. It was pretty much hopeless but we both felt better for her trying. She got a comb out of her purse and worked carefully through the rats nest it had become. It took a while. I just stood there with my hand hidden under Teddy and my head hanging low.

When she finished I gave a great sigh and turned around to look at her. I must have still looked pretty pitiful. She dropped right down and hugged me carefully as I leaned my right side against her. "I'm really sorry, Mommy," I mummbled into her hair.

Then I told her everything, how the gift yo-yo got broken, about how it hurt my hand to slug Jay on his face, how it made me feel so bad inside that I hurt him and that I didn't know what to do to fix it. When I got through to "and that was why I wanted my horsie." I just stopped.

She had held me the whole time. Now she stood up. "When we get all done here and get things straightened out at home I will call Jay's Mother to see when you may go over and apologize. Dad will put your stick horse back together. It will all work out." and she reached for my good hand to lead me to the waiting area.

A load lifted off my chest that I hadn't realized was there. Now Mom would help me fix the mess I had made. What a wonderful thing a parent is!

It was about 1:00 now. Stop back for the final installment.

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