Every year one of my fathers co workers has a pig roast. You start cooking the pig almost 24 hours before and hope that your timing is perfect and your guests are pleased; alcohol surpasses “a must have” and becomes “the reason for”. I don’t typically go but this year my father personally asked me to come so that his coworkers can see me. I guess after 15 years enough time has passed for a reappearance to become a reunion. Anyway, the food was good, the conversation was decent and the beer was free so all in all it was a pretty good time.
As I was leaving the party two young girls, daughters of the partiers, scooted by on scooters and headed out towards the road and in the general direction that I was going.
Maybe 12 year old girls think, let’s scooter down a hill in a swim suit and flip flops…
Me (24 years old) thinks, fuck this isn’t going to end well… and it didn’t.
Girl number one sways a little bit during her descent but manages to stay in control.
Girl number two sways a little bit and doesn’t even try to regain control and crashes on her knee at full speed.
Instantly I’m thinking don’t fucking scream, please god don’t fucking scream… after all the last thing that I want is for people to hear a girl screaming and a I’m standing over her, it just doesn’t look good. Adult men cannot be close to screaming children if they are not part of their immediate family or if there isn’t a witness.
Luckily, she didn’t start to scream but I could see the panic coming to her eyes and the effort it was taking her not to become hysterical. For a second I realized, whether she did or not, that we were both trying to keep the other one calm. When I asked her if she was okay and she said no she also started to stand up. I looked at her knee and there was a half dollar area on her knee that was lacking any skin at all. It was a white circle of flesh cut so quickly that it didn’t bleed at all at first.
The two off us started to walk back to the party, I had asked if she needed help standing and she said no, this 12 year old girl had a chunk missing in her leg and she was hauling herself back to the party without any help; color me impressed. I grabbed her scooter and walked beside her and had figured that if she wasn’t going to cry right off the bat, I was going to do whatever I could to keep it that way and the only way I knew how was to keep her mind off what just happened.
“What’s your name?”
“Emily? That’s such a pretty name..” Emily looks down at her gnarled leg and notices that it’s only now starting to leak blood. From experience I know that clean cuts that don’t bleed right away will typically explode shortly after their created and based on her gasp and wine that’s bordering on hysterics I didn’t want that to happen.
“Emily, Emily, look at me. You wanna see something because you’re being so brave I think I can show you. Do you see this scar on my chin?’ She’s paying attention and nods. “Well I got this when I fell off my bike at a party just like you but can I tell you a secret?”
“Yeah.” she says, the fact that she’s answering me helps a lot. It at least validates that what I am doing is working on some level and that helps me relax and the more I am relaxed and able to convince Emily that she’s okay, the better chance there is of this not getting out of hand.
“Well I was such a big baby, I started to cry and run around and scream and I am so impressed that you’re being so brave right now.”
Finally we reached the party. Now I know, march a kid with a shredded, bleeding leg into the back yard and people freak out, then kids freak out, then shit gets messy. I saw a bucket next to the fence and flipped it over and told Emily to sit down on it.
“Now Emily, I’m going to go get your mom while you sit right here and continue to be brave. Can you tell me your moms name so I can find her for you?”
Her name is Susan.
Back at the table I knew that my parents were sitting with the hostess, Carly, and if anyone knew a random Susan, mother of Emily, in a crowd of 40-50 people it would be her. “You need to find Emily’s mother, Susan. Tell her that Emily fell and cut her leg pretty badly and she needs to come now.”
“What?” Carly said, half not hearing me half disbelieving what I just said.
“Emily, daughter of Susan, fell and cut her leg badly and you need to find her mother Susan right now and bring her to the driveway.”
Carly looked at me for half a second and realized that I was not bullshitting. She jumped right up and without a word drifted through the crowds of people looking for Emily’s mother.
I turned around and headed back towards the driveway, one to check on Emily and two because it was time to leave. The longer I hung around the more I’ll probably be interrogated and that shit sucks. I get out to the garage and Emily is surrounded by all the other young kids and they’re all pointing at the injury and talking as if Emily isn’t even there. The look of horror on this girls face like she was the center act in a circus was enough to keep me there for another 30 seconds.
“Who here is Emily’s brother or sister?”
One girl answers.
“Everyone else go away right now and leave Emily alone or I’m telling your parents you did something bad and you’re going to be grounded.”
One girl remains.
Susan and Carly come out from behind the gate, Susan’s face is like a what the fuck am I being disturbed for..my kids not crying….then she looks at the leg and backyard partier instantly changes to mommy. Out of nowhere the kids I sent away, who disappeared back into whatever fantasy world they were playing in before the accident suddenly reappear like a swarm of locus. In the confusion Susan turns around and looks at me and gives me a look that can only be defined as gratuity. She mouths thank you to me and we walk our separate ways.
In the days since I just wondered how that would have turned out if I wasn’t there. Questions like this have no answer, only speculation. Whatever may have come of it I think that it ended better than it started. Emily didn’t cry, I didn’t get a cautious eye thrown my way, and a little girl shed one less tear on a sunny day in July.