This one starts small–a drop or two of red on the white Kleenex I fish out of my purse. I hope for containment, but within seconds, bright splashes of blood slap the gym floor. An entire package of Kleenex isn’t enough to sop the blood flooding down his mouth, chin, hands, arms.
He runs out of the gym, down the stairs to the boys locker room.
I stand there, unsure what to do. He’s 15. At some point, he’s going to have to handle his bloody noses himself. At some point, he’s going to want to handle his bloody noses himself.
But then I follow.
“Hey!” I stand safely in the hall on the other side of the locker room door. “Do you have paper towels?”
“Mom! Get out! You’re not supposed to be in here!”
“I’m not in there. I’m just standing at the door.”
A pause. And then—
“What’s the matter with you?! Get in here!”
There is blood everywhere–dripping down the mirror, coating the sink, pooling on the floor.
“It looks like someone’s been murdered,” he says.
There is so much blood in his mouth that I think he’s busted his lip, bitten his tongue. But it’s just the noseblood.
We work mostly in silence. I refresh the paper towels and tissues as they become heavy with his blood. I hold his white shirt away from the edge of the sink. I wipe the rivulet off his arm before it can splash to his shoes.
Eventually the bleed slows, then stops. He rinses his mouth out. He inspects his clothing. He’s ready to play.
“Clean it up for me?” he asks.
He runs out of the locker room to head back to the game. I gather more paper towels and wipe the mirror, rinse the sink, sop the floor. I scrub at the stains on the tile. A teenaged boy comes in to change just as I decide I’ve cleaned as much as I can.
“I’m sorry,” I say.