Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
by Janet Caplan
I see my six year old self pinned against the grey cement foundation wall, arm raised, rock in hand, ready to throw. Directly in front of me stands Nathan, a strong, stocky boy of about five, with a blond brush cut and clear blue eyes that stare straight at me; he is daring me to make a move. I think he's tough and I know he's fearless.
The kids in the circle around Nathan are taunting me to do what they'd all like to do to the little bully. "Throw it, throw it," they chant. I am frightened into doing something. Suddenly, I feel myself in a robotic trance as my arm moves forward and I pitch the rock towards Nathan's forehead.
It connects directly over the bridge of his nose and instantly there is blood everywhere. Nathan staggers backwards and falls. He doesn't emit a sound except for the thud of his landing.
I scream and cry and the other kids start running in all directions. My mother and Nathan's mother appear out of nowhere and a calmness blankets us. Nathan is picked up and scurried off to emergency by his parents. I am petrified that he has a concussion or worse. I shake and cry for the next two hours as both my mother and father try to settle me down as I explain what happened and why. As if there was a right answer.
The phone rings at suppertime. It is Nathan's mother. He is fine: no concussion, just a bruise and a deep cut that required a few stitches. My parents and I are invited to come right over and inspect for ourselves.
We enter Nathan's house and he smiles at me. He tells me about the hospital as if it had been a great adventure. I am so relieved. I can breathe deeply again. He's okay. After all, as he says, he is a tough guy.
Janet Caplan lives on Vancouver Island on Canada’s west coast. Her work has appeared in Canadian Stories, Dogs in Canada and in the anthologies Kitchen Table Stories from The Story Circle Network and Holiday Writes from InkSpotter Publishing as well as various online publications.
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