by Candace Robinson
I could hear it now—the blood.
It sounded like someone had turned on the kitchen sink. The sound of it gushing out my nose and splattering onto the pavement made me sick. Or maybe that was just all of the metallic-tasting blood I’d already swallowed.
So much blood. The last time I’d seen that much was back in high school when my teacher brought in a live duck and sliced its neck. I’d watched as the duck flapped its wings frantically at first then slower until it twitched and flopped and finally stopped.
How much more blood could I lose?
My vision faded in and out.
Coughing, I realized I had a more pressing problem.
I knew major blood loss to the nose could lead to drowning. To prevent that, I had once read you had to pinch the bridge of the nose and lean forward. Or was it backward?
I couldn’t remember. I had a fifty-fifty chance of survival.
I picked a direction. Forward.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw someone running. Was he coming back for me?
Maybe I was just hallucinating.
Then I saw him.
“They’re gone,” Danny said, crouching next to me. “Let’s get you inside the house in case they come back.”
I stood up and almost passed out. Danny and his brother helped me walk.
“Are you ok?” Danny asked as I collapsed to the floor.
“Someone dial 911. I need ice to slow the bleeding.”
I heard scrambling and slipping on the smooth wooden floors but my vision was fading again. The tips of my hair, now stiff from blood, kept sticking to my face. I tried to pull it up into a ponytail but was too weak.
I vaguely heard someone talking. “Yes sir, there were two of them. Must have been part of a gang…”
There was the sound of scampering feet, a fridge opening and closing, and then a handful of ice cubes were placed in my hand. They kept slipping away as I tried to press them against my nose.
No ambulance or police came.
“We need to go to the ER. Now,” I finally said.
We hopped into Danny’s car and sped away. Danny kept casting concerned glances my way. “If they ruined your nose…”
“I’ll be fine,” I said but a knot tightened in my stomach.
We sped past empty, dark streets in silence. I tried to position my head so I was bleeding onto my clothes and not his dad’s car but every time I opened my eyes in the dim lighting all I could see was red.
Finally, we were there.
I sat in the empty lobby as a bored receptionist clicked away on a computer.
“Hold your nose honey,” she instructed.
My hands shook violently, and raising them felt like lifting weights.
“Can’t,” I rasped. “Danny?”
I felt clammy fingers squeezing my nose for me.
“Here’s a bag.”
Something slippery was thrust into my hands. I tried to open my eyes but it required too much effort. I positioned it below my still leaky nose.
“What’s your insurance provider? Social security? Date of birth?”
What was this; twenty questions?
Finally, the receptionist helped me back to the room.
Finally the patch job was done and I was released with instructions to get good sleep and take Advil.
The part of the story I rarely tell is what happened after.
I felt like that duck back in high school.
My world was shaken.
It would take a novel to explain the circumstances leading up to this bizarre series of events.
The short of it was I was in Houston with my grandpa’s truck to pick up my family’s golden retriever from China so I could then drive it up to them in Oklahoma.
So there I was the next day with Sammie the golden retriever panting heavily next to me in my grandpa’s gigantic pickup as we cruised down the highway. The truck hadn’t started earlier that morning and I had to pour coke on the battery to get it to work. I knew if I stopped, there would be no getting this truck going again.
I felt like crap. I’d worn my most comfortable sweats and hoodie and not even attempted makeup as my eyes were both swollen and had turned an angry purple where blood had pooled under my skin. Stiches made a chevron pattern across the bridge of my nose.
There was no hiding this.
In the rearview mirror I noticed something flapping in the wind.
My heart jumped.
The dog crate!
With Sammie sitting next to me, the empty dog crate didn’t weigh enough and was lifting off the pickup bed.
Then I saw something else—a cop.
“Of course you couldn’t have showed up yesterday fast enough, but now, here you are,” I mumbled.
There are many things two black eyes and a stitched up nose are not good for. Getting pulled over makes top of the list.
Some girls have this ability to cry their way out of tickets. I’d never tried it. I’d also never gotten a ticket.
Once, I had managed to cry my family out of a hostage like situation in Inner Mongolia, but that was under dire circumstance.
With two black eyes and a tangled mess of a nose, I looked sketchy at best. Not to mention, amongst the chaos I seemed to have misplaced my driver’s license. Then there was the minor detail of driving a truck that wasn’t mine, and I wasn’t exactly sure where the insurance card was.
Maybe these were bad enough circumstances to manage a couple tears…
I let out a sigh of relief as the cop cruised past me.
There was still the problem of the crate attempting to fly away like a kite behind the truck. I needed to buy more ratchet straps.
I pulled over to a gas station/makeshift hardware store. Knowing to turn the engine off would be to seal my fate of being trapped in the middle of nowhere Texas, I had only one option: leave the car running and unlocked while I ran inside.
Maybe the dog would scare potential intruders away. One look at grinning slobbering Sammie and I knew she would be no help.
Fortunately, as I got out of the truck, I realized I didn’t need her to scary anyone away. My face did the job just fine.
People cast quick, suspicious glances my way. A woman locked her doors as I walked past. I got the impression no one would attempt stealing the truck.
I quickly purchased more ratchet straps and tightened the dog crate down. Soon, I was on the road again but there was something gnawing at my thoughts. Something deep and dark that I kept putting off by turning up the radio.
Finally, after a long exhausting drive, I was home and able to return the ecstatic dog to my family.
The next day, I walked into my parent’s church with two black eyes and a nose that would have impressed Frankenstein.
In my old Sunday school class, most didn’t notice/recognize me. The few who did blinked in surprise and confusion.
“And looks like we have Candace here from College Station. . .” the pastor’s voice trailed off as he got a look at my face.
I stood and waved. “Hi! Should have seen the other guy!” I sat back down into complete silence.
“Uh,” the pastor started again. “Today we’re going to be looking at Mathew.”
After Sunday school, several people came up to me all to express their concern. It was as if the transformation from sweats to a skirts had magically transformed my story. I was no longer a shady person who got in bar fights who you locked your door around. Now, I was an innocent victim of some unfortunate series of events.
The gnawing in my gut returned. People were making assumptions about me based solely on how I looked or where I was.
I never did find out why my friend Danny and I were attacked back in Houston. The police never arrived on the scene and the two attackers were long gone by the time we arrived at the ER.
What I do know, is that attack has changed the way I see things.
I used to make assumptions about people just by looking at them. Now, I always walk a little in someone else’s shoes first.
Today, my scar is barely visible.
Unless I point it out, you’d never notice. It’s such a small red line that crosses the bridge of my nose.
I treasure that scar.
It reminds me I’m more similar than different to the people around me. Through it, my eyes have been opened.