There was a millisecond of silence and then a string of expletives. This is normal procedure for Scott, who is well-known in these parts for taking out his anger on inanimate objects. He can usually be found instructing God to damn a computer to hell or unleashing brutal verbal abuse on a hinky small appliance. I could tell from the sound and the ensuing tenor of the cursing, though, that this particular injury was beyond the usual stubbed toe. This was bad. I wondered, from the comfort of the bed, if he had broken his toe. I considered getting up and helping him out, but on the other hand the bed was warm. I decided to wait it out. I heard him making his way to the bathroom, I assumed to check out his injuries in a well-lit place, and there was much hissing and gasping and cursing. I really should get up, I thought, and did not move an inch. Because really, what could I do? Wring my hands while he bandaged himself?
As I considered what a good wife I was, keeping the faith that he could help himself and in the process getting some much-needed rest so I could tend to the household tomorrow while he nursed his painful foot-wounds, I heard a crash. Actually it was more like a series of crashes, like all the furniture in the bathroom had come tumbling down. Except we don’t have furniture in the bathroom. I braced myself for the onslaught of cursing that would undoubtedly follow whatever it was that probably just landed on or near my husband, but I heard…nothing. Silence! Well, he’s handling that well, I thought. Just cleaning up the mess, without cursing and…
I sat up. My husband has never in his life taken events in stride. Especially when he already has what sounds like a painful injury. The silence continued. Shit.
I made my way through the dark hallway toward the lit bathroom, and then had what I referred to later as my Law & Order moment: turning the corner to see Scott sprawled, unconscious, on the bathroom tile. There were a couple of small puddles of blood a few inches from his arm, and a streak of blood across the cabinet. I would have been more alarmed if it hadn’t been for the small smile that was playing across my husband’s face, as if he were in the middle of a lovely dream, while his hand, now alarmingly close to all that blood, pawed the air. Did he think he was petting the dog?
I crouched down by him. “Honey,” I said.
He opened his eyes. “What?”
“You fainted,” I explained to him.
“I did it again?” he said.
Scott’s fainted a couple of times, the last time almost exactly a year ago, also in the bathroom, although that time he had been under the weather and not nursing a bloody toe. We ended up hanging out in the ER for hours and hours that time, only for the doctors to tell us that he was completely fine.
So this time, I wasn’t too alarmed. Only I knew that if he got up, he’d probably faint again, because that seems to be his way. And he was trying to get up.
“I’m okay,” he said.
“You’re not,” I said. “You’re lying on the bathroom floor. Stay down.”
Then we heard Henry open his door and amble over. “Hey, guys, what’s all the racket?” he asked, and then saw his dad lying on the ground surrounded by blood. He appeared…concerned.
“It’s okay,” I told him.
“It’s okay!” Scott repeated. “It’s okay!” His face was completely gray by now, and shiny with sweat.
“What’s wrong with Dad?” Henry said, his lower lip starting to tremble.
We then entered the wacky hijinks phase of the evening, in which I tried to reassure Henry that his father was, despite all the blood and the nearing-death quality of his face, actually fine, and also keep Scott from getting up and, in the process, pass out again and this time crack his head open, which was really the last thing we needed. I had to get Henry out of the bathroom and back into bed, and at the same time keep Scott lying down for little while longer, and while I was in Henry’s room comforting him and explaining low blood pressure and fainting and also how sometimes a little blood, strategically placed, looks like a lot of blood, Scott was in the bathroom, inexplicably calling out I’M OKAY to the Universe, and I kept shouting DO NOT GET UP WAIT FOR ME, and possibly the alarm in my voice kept Henry from dropping back into slumber, and then I got Henry to laugh by poking a little fun at his dad's fainting tendencies, and it was going well until I used the phrase “ripped his toenail off” and made Henry weep for Scott’s toenail, weep as if it were his very own, and I had to comfort him all over again and then get back to the bathroom because Scott was all I’M GETTING UP, and for some reason he went over to the couch, which was far from the bedroom and in the exact opposite place he needed to be, and then I went back to Henry who was now mourning Scott’s toe AND freaking out over the blood, and it’s amazing that any of us got any sleep that night.
But we did. In the end, Scott’s poor pinky toe was bandaged, his healthful glow returned to his face, and he managed to get to Henry’s room to reassure him and then get back to bed, and Henry fell asleep, and then I did, somehow, eventually. And the next day the source of the original injury—a heavy wood file box, which had been emptied and left in the hallway so that it could be thrown out—was taken outside and tossed to the curb, where it could never hurt anyone again.