Please don’t let there be blood. Please don’t let there be blood. Please don’t let there be blood.
Beatris Hammonds chanted the mantra in her head as she looked in dismay out her storm door at the child crying on her sidewalk. She had seen the little boy fly headlong off his scooter when it hit the place where one slab of concrete was a few inches higher than the next, heard his howl of pain as his knees met the concrete. She had had an idea who he was from her constant surveillance of the neighborhood–Billy, or Bobby, or some such thing from down the street–and recalled that his parents were always sending him outside to play, alone and unattended, while they did Heaven knows what.
“Shameful,” Beatris cursed under her breath before cracking open the thin, metal door and shouting, “Go home to your mama, son.”
The boy only wailed louder and cradled one knee closer to his chest. He rocked on his backside a few times before falling over into the fetal position with his back to her, blubbering pathetically.
The old woman pushed the door open wider, debating whether to step out onto the porch. She was reluctant to be out of doors in only her nightgown and robe, and wary of the very real possibility that the boy might be bleeding all over the concrete. She didn’t want to see the blood, knew she would probably faint at the sight of it, but she still felt the long dormant need to determine the extent of his injuries.
Beatris had been a nurse in the war, and as such, she had seen more than her share of blood and gore. Her intense reaction to the sight of blood had only developed once she returned home. The doctors called it Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but Beatris didn’t care what it was called. All she knew is that the sight of blood brought back all those memories of the horrors she had witnessed in the line of duty.
She closed her eyes, clenching her fists so tightly she left crescent-shaped imprints on her palms. With a deep breath, she pushed the fear rising in her chest down and let her training take over.
“Let Nurse Bea take a look at you, boy,” she cooed with only a slight tremor in her voice as she shuffled through the door and down to the walk. “I’ll get you fixed up. And if you’re a good little patient, I’ll administer your prescription of cookies and lemonade personally.”