Houston, we have a problem . . .

Distress signalsYou remember Liz, don't you? Distressed septum, and all that. Well, now she's gone and damaged her head, and possibly the contents thereof if an infection happens to spread beyond the sizeable gash she created with the edge of that kitchen-cabinet door. Hey, it happens. You're running late in the morning, trying to get the kiddo off to school, and suddenly you're on your butt on the kitchen floor with a bunch of little birdies flying around your head, struggling to remember your own name. If you're like most people, the vertigo combined with the blood running down your forehead might signal (1) a possible concussion, (2) the possible need for stitches and (3) the need to reconfigure the day's schedule.

Not Liz. She has a math final to take and nothing is going to stop her. Holding a towel to her head, she phones her father to advise him of the circumstances, just in case there's a problem with the navigation systems that might prevent her from arriving at one or more of her intended destinations. Shrugging off his pleas to postpone her morning travel, she hangs up and staggers off in search of hydrogen peroxide. Its bleaching action momentarily forgotten due to the trauma, she pours the bottle's contents on her head, grabs the towel, and heads for her daughter's school. As you might expect, the staff is horrified.

"Oh my . . . Liz! What happened? Are you alright?"

"I'm fine. Just bumped my head."

"You don't look fine. You're covered in blood. Why don't you sit down?"

"No. I'm fine. I have to take a math test."

"Liz, you don't look so good. Your eyes are . . ."

"Bumped my head. Gotta go. I have a math final."

With that, Liz is off. The teacher watches, open-mouthed, as Liz makes her way out of the school, bloody towel pressed to her head. She's listing to starboard.

On the highway, motorists are alarmed at the sight of the muttering, bloodied driver. She seems almost unnaturally focused on the road ahead, ignoring the speed limit and anything else that might impede her purpose. She has a math final to take.

When Liz arrives at her destination, the college staff is similarly alarmed. They gasp as the bloodied woman makes her way through the hallway, glazed eyes fixed on the door of the classroom at the end. She's repeating a phrase over and over, as if chanting a mantra. Something about a math final.

Liz bursts into the classroom, startling the professor. He jumps to his feet, understandably distressed at the sight.

"My God! Liz! Did you have an accident?"

"I'm fine. Just bumped my head."

"But you . . . you're covered in blood! Here, let me have a look at that . . . oh man . . . that might need stitches . . ."

Liz pushes him away. "No one is sticking any needles in my head. I just want to take the test. I don't want to come back during break. I'm fine."

Realizing the futility of his protests, the professor returns to his desk, silenced. Liz is already engrossed in the exam, pencil in one hand, towel in the other. The professor shakes his head as a drop of blood obscures an equation on the test sheet.

That evening, Liz is back at her job at the restaurant. She's cleaned herself up in the meantime, but the hair she has brushed over the top of her head in an effort to hide the bleaching effects of the peroxide gives her the look of a lopsided, demented parrot. A few customers make the mistake of mentioning it, and are given a brutal lesson in the aftereffects of head trauma. An employee expresses concern over Liz' drooping eyelid, and the disparity in pupil size. He pays with his job.

It's been a tough day for Liz, and now for others, too. Some of us are more fortunate; some of us were far, far away on that day, and so are able to talk about it now, or write about it. Of course, there's still the possibility of infection, and all the danger that sort of thing presents not only to Liz, but to us all. Better to have dinner elsewhere, maybe.



  1. Anonymous7:45 AM UTC

    My favorite bits: "a lopsided, demented parrot," and "some of us were far, far away on that day, and so are able to talk about it now." I can laugh -- I've got a droopy eyelid of my own today (likely conjunctivitis), and I concur with Liz: ""No one is sticking any needles in my head."

  2. Anonymous11:39 PM UTC

    I never much liked the idea of needles to begin with, but that disgusting needle scene in the Jacob's Ladder movie pushed me over the edge. Hope your eyelid snaps to attention soon, but if not, there's always Krazy Glue, yes?