‘Jesus, Mary and Joseph. What’s happened to you?’
Ma’s standing in the doorway, looking down at me as if she’s just dropped her messages. The blood feels tickly and stingy.
‘I cut masel,’ I say, finally.
An open palm swooshes through the air and heats my ear with a ferocity that makes it buzz.
‘I can see you’ve hurt yersel, yer dripping blood ontae ma clean close. Here…’
She hands me her pinny. I press it against ma temple.
‘Right, what happened?’ she says, still blocking the doorway.
‘Nothing. I fell aff ma bike.’
‘And where’s yer bike now?’
Her tone makes me take a step back.
‘It’s doonstairs. Andy’s watching it.’
‘Get in,’ she says, like I’ve passed a test. ‘And God help you if you get blood on ma carpets… kitchen, now… shoes aff… move.’
I kick ma sannies aff and make for the kitchen. As she turns on the cold tap I look oot the windae. Andy’s doon there like a wee ant, guarding ma bike. Good man. Ten bob it’ll cost me, but worth it. I fall intae a chair.
‘C’mere, let me see you.’
A take away the pinny.
‘Were you building ramps?’
‘Naw, I was…’
‘So help me, I will phone Father Hayes…’
‘Awright, we made a ramp, but it was Andy…’
‘Andy’s fault then, aye?’
She’s wet a cloth now and is rubbing ma face as if it’s a dirty pot. It’ll be the TCP next.
‘Florence,’ she screams. ‘Get ma nurses’ bag. And the TCP.’
Ma used to be a nurse afore she had Florence. She’s oot of practice but it doesnae stop her practicing on me like I’m a burst teddy. I’ve heard da shouting at her tae take me tae hospital, but it’s always efter the event.
Flo comes in wi’ a black bag and the TCP.
‘Ay, that’s minging,’ she says, grinning this massive grin. Her big teeth are growing in more.
‘Out,’ says Ma.
Flo vanishes and Ma doesnae see me gie her the Vickies.
‘You, haud this ower yer face.’
I do as she asks, and feel ma pulse throb. My t-shirt’s red and I think I might be running oot of blood.
‘Ma, how much blood have we got?’
She grabs a clean cloth and spins the lid aff the TCP.
‘Don’t be a baby,’ she says, swapping the bloody rag for the clean one. I scream as the sting makes me kick ma legs oot. This isnae like before, I can feel it melt ma fucking bones.
‘Right,’ says Ma, spinning ma chair so I’m facing the windae. She pulls the cloth away. ‘This is the sore bit, son. But it’ll no’ take long, then ye’ll be back oot on yer bike.’
She lifts ma fringe and kisses ma forehead. There’s this weird buzz in ma thighs and when I catch a glimpse of the thread looping through the pointy end of the needle a fog fills the room. The song ma’s starting singing sounds awfy far away.