Gladys got burned this evening on the tortilla press.
“Oh my. Oh my. You okay, Honey? Where’s the burn? Where does it hurt?”
I heard the scream. I grabbed her and ran to the sink to run her hands under the cool water.
That would have been the perfect thing to do, if she had burned her hand. But, she didn’t burn her hand.
“My belly, Mommy!” she screamed. I was, of course, holding her around the belly.
She burned her belly. My dear, sweet Gladys burned her belly. After the initial confusion, I (her idiot, albeit well-meaning, mother) managed to get cool rags on her and we all calmed down. I saw some blistering, so I called my sister. My sister is a pediatric nurse.
She walked me through the burn treatment. By then, Gladys giggled and smiled on her Dad’s lap. She seemed fine, in spite of how bad it all appeared.
“It sounds a lot like the burns you had on your legs,” my sister recalled. “Well, except that yours were on a much larger area. Small ones aren’t nearly as bad.”
My reaction was visceral. Yes, I remember.
I was six, I think, and it was summertime. I was over next-door talking to the neighbor kid in the driveway. During our conversation, his dad came home on his motorcycle. I don’t really remember why now, but for some reason I backed up. In my memory, it almost seems like I had planned to lean against the bike, but it was such a strange motion. Somehow, both of the backs of my legs were seared on that exhaust pipe.
I vaguely remember running and screaming. I must have.
I clearly remember lying on the floor in the den. My sister very slowly poured cool water on the backs of my legs. I can still feel the cool water. I can still feel the heat that returned and penetrated after the water dripped off the sides of my legs. The memory lasts for hours.
Only once do I recall anyone mentioning the scars beyond high school. It was another summer, when I was still young enough to ignore my DNA and attempt to tan in the sun. The backs of my legs don’t tan very well. The truth is that nothing about me tans very well. As soon as I came to my senses about that fact, the scars never bothered me again. I checked tonight to see if they are still there. My memory sees the faint outline, but I doubt anyone else could find it.
I doubt Gladys will remember this burn. This time, hopefully the only time, we were lucky. And, if we are injured again here I’ll know exactly what to do.
I’ll call my sister.
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