A few weeks ago, Sam was working a twenty-four hour shift. I was sitting in the living room with Beezus. She had just woken up from a nap, so she had a cup-full of water and a cookie. I was doing the crossword on my handheld device and talking to my sister on the phone. Besides the noises from meddling kids on the television, the house felt still. Since Beezus was sitting in front on me, I could tell she hadn't moved, even though I was not quite focused on her. The air between us remained unchanged. I looked up, as I was talking, and her face was covered with thick red blood. It was everywhere. In her hair. In her mouth. And she was still staring at the television.
It took me a moment to process the scene. It seemed so incongruous with what the second before had just been. I gasped, said something desperately awful to my sister and hung up the phone. "Did you fall, Beatrice?" And she was suddenly startled too. Her huge blue eyes were like saucers. I tried to temper my worst freak-out instincts. She gauged me gauging her. She stayed silent and unsure. I picked her up in my arms. My feet wanted to run back and forth and back and forth going no where in particular, but I ran to the bathroom repeating questions, "Did you move? Did you fall? Were you just sitting there?" Even though, I know damn well she was just sitting there. It was all I could think--something fell on her, or she fell off of something. And all she could say, finally, was, "Mama, I think there is blood."
My daughter has never had a massive nosebleed, and being that she is my first child, that means I haven't seen one since elementary school when Danny Dolly punched himself in the nose to make my sister vomit in fifth grade. (She has always had a rather weak stomach for blood.) Beezus later sheepishly explained that she thinks that, uh, maybe, she was, perhaps, or might have been, you know, picking her nose, even though she is not supposed to pick her nose, but that perhaps she pulled a booger from it, and that it began, as she describes it "itchin'." Reconstructing the scene I was just part of, I can see her feeling the run of blood down her face, then rubbing her nose, and suddenly, it got everywhere, but for a second, it was like my worst nightmare. It is so disconcerting to lift my head, knowing damn well no one was moving, and seeing my daughter covered with blood.
It is funny the things you think to do in such a moment. I took a picture with my cell phone which was in my hand, so that I could send it to her father at the hospital. I wonder what I thought I would write: "What is going on with her?" Like that would have helped him solve the mystery of why his daughter was covered in blood.
This may be one of the biggest things that has happened to her. After she was cleaned up, I called my sister back. I didn't want to just forget that I left the conversation shrieking in a stage whisper, "BEA IS COVERED IN BLOOD." Click. Beatrice, on the other hand, had her own calling to do. Straight away, she went into the play kitchen picked up her play phone and called everyone she knew and told them. Connected to nothing, she wandered around the house with her little phone calling all her friends and relatives and telling her story, "Uh, hi, Uncle John, yeah, my nose was bleeding. Uh, huh. Yep. I'm fine, but I was scared."
This may seem like my story, because I have told it to you here. But it isn't. Not really. It is her story. One day, part of her story will be Lucy died and it made her mother crazy. Or perhaps she will say, "My sister Lucy died and it made my mother (fill in the blank)." Distant? Kind? Driven? Sad? But these stories are not mine. Not really. I am just borrowing them until they become hers.