Cotton Wool

The room I ran into was full of the yellow light of my mother’s vanity mirror and the heavy scent of perfume. I stopped abruptly in front of the mirror to gently finger the colourful glass bottles holding the scent; my mother was going out tonight and if I were very good she would perhaps daub my wrists and neck with the scent she would wear. And I would dream of the parties I would go to when I grew. I resolved to be very good as I stood on tiptoe to catch a glimpse of my face in the vanity mirror. I smiled at myself and reached for the lipstick, forgetting my resolution to behave myself as quickly as I had made it. Before I unclicked the cap, I heard and smelt the steamy hot water of the shower; my mother was in her bathroom, behind the white door. I replaced the lipstick as soundlessly as I could, raised my eyebrows at my reflection and ran to ask her where she would go tonight.

I pushed the door open and saw my mother with her dark hair wet and a soft white towel around her; she was shaving her legs. Dads shaved faces and mothers shaved legs. Wondering when I would do the same, I sat on the floor to watch her. So I could do it just right when it was my turn. My mother was in a hurry and didn’t notice the long, thin red line marking her calf; a bead of bright red was racing towards her ankle. At first I thought she had made a mistake with her lipstick but remembering how she had warned me to NEVER touch her razors, I ran towards her and grabbed the injured leg:

Mum! You’re hurt! I’ll call the ambulance right away! Stay here, don’t move!

My mother held me still and looked very calm; she didn’t seem afraid to die. She handed me a soft little ball of cotton wool and called me Doctor; I cleaned up the blood slowly and carefully before racing off, once again. For a plaster.

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