A frozen yogurt joint. I’ve just finished supper. My belt is tight from eating too much pizza.
There are too many yogurt flavors to choose from in this place. Triple Dark Peruvian Fudgesicle, Very Berry Quite Contrary, Oreo Delight, Midnight Mudpie in Mississippi—shut my mouth. Of course, the Orange Julius flavor doesn’t taste too shabby, either.
Then again, artificial orange doesn’t always set well with me. When I was a boy, the doctor gassed me with orange-flavored laughing gas just before tonsil surgery.
All I remember after that is hearing nurses play Righteous Brothers music through a transistor radio while I breathed in orange fumes. Ever since then I have detested Sunkist, orange-flavored bubble gum, and I can’t hear “Unchained Melody” without breaking into a nervous sweat.
So I’m sampling yogurt flavors, and that’s when I see her. She’s twelve, maybe thirteen. She’s with her family. She is small, with red hair. I have a soft spot for redheads since God accidentally made me one.
The girl is feeding her little brother with a spoon. The boy has a
cast on one arm and a sling on the other.
“He fell,” the boy’s father explains. “He was climbing our gutter on the porch.”
“The gutter?” I say.
He broke one arm and injured his other shoulder. No sooner had he hit the ground than his twelve-year-old sister came running to the rescue. And as the story goes: she carried her brother indoors, over her shoulder. Big Sister has been caring for Little Brother ever since.
“I love taking care of people,” the girl tells me. “I’m gonna be a nurse one day.”
The girl’s mother says that her daughter has always wanted to be a nurse, from Day One. And earlier this year, before Little Brother attempted his solo flight across the Atlantic, the girl actually got her chance to be a real nurse.
It happened when her…