He sees the nail–old, twisted–just before he steps on it. He begins to howl before the point makes contact with his foot, the anticipation of agony enough to fuel his hollering. His face, twisted with pain, deepens to red, matching the rusty color of his Mickey Mouse T-shirt.
“Mitch? What on earth . . .” Maggie says as she runs into the shed and finds him, still yelling, sitting on the wood-planked floor as he inspects his bleeding foot. He begins to weep like a child, although his next birthday will be his twentieth.
She kneels down and lets him cry, rubbing his back and whispering words of comfort. Her poor little brother–a drop of blood has always been the world’s end to him, especially if it is his own.
“What do we do, Maggie?” Mitch asks in hiccuping breaths, his broad shoulders heaving as he surveys the damage to his foot.
When Maggie looks at his face, she sees the child she has always loved, not the slow man at whom the rest of the world stares. He hangs on her every word, won’t make a move with out her approval. He thinks the sun sets and the moon rises on her command. She is fine with this. He’s been her charge, her responsibility since their father’s death, and she does the job with care and with love. She knows she has a purpose on this earth, and that purpose is Mitch.
“We’ll clean it up, Mitch. We’ll make it all better.” He looks into her eyes and his face erupts into a smile that takes over his whole body, his eyes clear and without a speck of doubt. He reaches up with his thick, sturdy arms and envelops her tiny frame.
“All better, Maggie. Make it all better,” he says as he releases his embrace. She helps him up, and they hobble from the shed to the house, where Maggie will do just that. She’s always been his hero.
Written for the Trifecta Challenge, Week 83. This week’s word is RUSTY.