It hurts when I laugh

Twelve wasn't my best year ever. After dealing with the birthday blues and learning to get along without Grama and Grampa, because he sold the house and bought a camper for his pickup and went traveling, and the family in fighting about posession of tables and chairs and such I went on to have another bad day.

In school the 6th grade kids are used for Hall Patrol and Safety Patrol. You get a glow in the dark orange belt thing that runs over one shoulder and around your waist to wear. For hall patrol you make sure there is no running or fighting in the halls. Safety patrol was to help kids cross the streets. When kids don't mind you then you report them to the teachers.

Now hall patrol was an honor. Not just anyone got the job. You had to have good grades and no black marks for misbehaving and the teachers had to trust you. I was only picked the week before and it was still a rush for me to put my safety belt on and work the hall patrol.

I was on patrol one day, leaning against a post with my hands behind my back and my legs about shoulder width apart, as required, when my stomach started to hurt. I don't have a pain threshold, I have a hair line crack. I feel pain quickly and thoroughly. This wasn't an "I ate too much" pain or an "I have to go" pain and it didn't stop, pause or fade, it got worse and worse.

I tried to deal with it. I didn't want to have to be excused to go to the john, you were supposed to do that before you came on duty and I had. I was there with my hall leader, Rut, so she knew I had gone. So now what was I going to do? It was really hurting! Then, all of a sudden, there was a sharp pain, like someone stabbed me. It made me bend right over and wrap my arms around my stomach! OWWWWWWie!

That decided it for me and I hobbled down the hall, bent almost double and clutching my gut, to where Rut was standing. "I need to go to the bathroom, please. Can you cover for me? " I asked.

Rut had just been picked for hall leader that week, too. Her responsibities lay heavy on her shoulders. She wasn't really a friend or an enemy and we usually got along ok. I guess she thought she had to play hard ball or she thought I was faking because she looked down at me, her eyes narrowed, her chin stuck out and she looked me right in the eye and said, "No! Get back to your post."

I said, "I'm sorry, I can't!" and took off hobbling as fast as I could for the girls room. I ran into the closest stall, unfastened my jeans and slid them down with my panties and took a seat. I felt a little better then. I tried to do my business but there was just a tiny tinkle, nothing else and then the pain rammed me again and I bent over my arms, flat on my knees and cried out a loud groan.

Just then my favorite teacher came in, calling for me. Rut must have tattled that I left without permission and she was in charge of the patrols that week. She must have heard me groaning with pain because she sounded concerned. "Valerie? Are you alright? Where are you?"

"I'm here, Mrs. M, in the first stall," I creaked out past the pain.

"Are you ok? Should I come in?" she asked.

"My stomach hurts," I replied, "and I don't know why! I'll be out, just a minute."

I was panting and carefully sat up. I got to my feet, pulled up my bottoms and hooked them over my poor tummy. The pain quit. I didn't move for a minute because I was afraid I would make it hurt again. Then I unhooked the door and stepped out. Mrs. M looked at me and said, "My goodness! You're so pale, Val!"

I looked in the mirror across from me, she was right - I looked like a ghost of myself I was so white! It was spooky! And it scared me worse!

"My stomach just stopped hurting when I put my pants back on but I must really be sick!" popped right out of my mouth.

"I think so, too, " she agreed, "Do you want to go home?"

That was a no brainer, "Yes, I had better," I said shakily.

"I'll call your Mom and tell her you are on your way."

That was one of the things I loved about Mrs. M. She knew Mom and Dad both worked and that I would have to walk home but didn't act like it was a crime. Mom would be there when I got there and it was only four blocks to my house. She didn't make me wait around in the nurses office till a parent could come get me. This happened to be a very good thing.

While the rest of the the kids filed back to their last classes I walked out the front door, by myself again. I didn't bother to go back for my books or anything, I just headed for the house.

I made it about half way before the pain started again. It did just like before - twinge, pause, twist, pause, pause, GRAB GRAB, pause and I walked the last block all bent over and holding my tummy again. When I stepped down off the curb to cross the last street to my house it stopped again. I stood straight up, felt a little dizzy, then was ok and just walked home, up the steps and in the front door.

I went right to the bathroom, stood on tip toe in front of the sink and, sure enough, the ghost me was back! My lips looked like someone drew them lightly with pink crayon and colored over them with white really hard, my hair stood out where the bangs went across my forehead like fence posts across a snow drift and my brows and lashes looked painted on. My eyes were green but looked dark brown against the no lines and never been drawn on paper white of my face. It made me feel sick to look at me, so I ran out and laid on the couch. I was really tired all of a sudden and it felt right to lie down.

I heard mom's car in the drive and she came right to the living room to find me there. She actually gasped, "Hauu!", sucking breath in fast, when she got a look at me. I was that strange looking.

She slid her hip down beside mine and put her hand on my brow. "You're burning up! What is the matter with you?"

"My stomach hurts really bad and then it stops." I answered in a weak voice. "It makes me dizzy, " I added. (Now there is medical terminology for you! )

"I'll be right back," she stated as she rose and headed for the phone in the kitchen. I knew she was calling the doctor and there was nothing I could do now to get out of seeing him. I even looked sick to me!

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