On Friday, I like to take an ordinary photo of something I’ve seen during the week and create a bit of flash fiction. I call it 1,000 words worth, because, you know, a picture is worth…. For more information, click here.
I got on the "L," same as I do every afternoon at 4:29 PM. On 35th Street, by LaSalle High School, not too far from where the Sox play. At that time of day, at that stop, there's hardly anyone on the train when I get on. The crowd comes later, as we approach The Loop. Students at the high school were already practicing football, no pads. Sometimes there's kids on the platform, fooling around, laughing, and jostling each other.
Once I heard of that kind of stuff happening. I looked down into the pit and formulated an exit strategy. That is, if I even had time for an exit strategy. Of course, nothing like that happened. I digress.
When I got on, I sat down across from a girl, about 14 or 15 years old. She was one of those tiny girls that would one day be a beautiful woman. And stylish, too. Well, as much as a 14 or 15 year-old could be: clean, almost new clothes, put together in that not-put-together way. She had a back-pack on her lap and a smart-phone pressed up to her left cheek, talking quietly to someone. Only one thing seemed strange. The girl had on purple bedroom slippers. The slightly fuzzy kind, that have no toes. Are they called "scuffs?" In front of the seat next to her looked like a pool of blood. I mean a pool of red liquid about the same size as the seat itself. The girl didn't seem to mind, or maybe didn't notice, so I busied myself in my own business.
At the next stop, I looked up and noticed drops of red under the girls right right foot, that she now had cocked over her left knee.
"Are you bleeding?" I asked.
She mumbled something at me and returned to her smart-phone.
"Are you bleeding?" I asked a little louder. One other person in the front of the car continued to play a game on his phone, without looking up.
"Yes." She rolled her eyes and said into her phone. "A lady just asked me if I'm bleeding," then to me in a voice so low, I'm not quite sure if I heard her correctly, "I scraped my toe." She could have said just about anything, and my mind just filled in what made sense to me. At any rate, she turned her attention back to her friend.
"Do you need a Band-Aid?" I carry a small first-aid kit in my purse. It's a hold over from when the kids were little. "I have a large one and a regular size." I held one of those large kind meant for falling-off-a-bike scraped knees, and the standard, I-got-a-boo-boo kind.
"I gotta go," she said into her smart-phone, and looked at me. That's when I realized, she hadn't really looked at me before that moment. The girl had beautiful brown, almost black eyes. "Thanks, I'll take the big one."
I gave her a Kleenex first, so she could clean off the blood. That large Band-Aid fit perfectly around her toe, no overhang. She's got really big toes for someone so tiny.
"Can I have some more napkins?" she said. I handed her the travel-pack, and she mopped up the pool of blood next to her as best she could and stuffed the Kleenex into her backpack.
The next stop, a slew of people, leaving work or going to the Cubs game got on, and I guess she got off, cuz she was gone and someone in a "Loveable Winners" shirt was sitting with his shoes in a smear of rust colored residue.