I’m answering a challenge from Micky here. You never know what could spark a story. If you’ve never played broomball or understood how demented it is, picture a parody of hockey with two teams of assorted nuts scrambling and sliding about on the ice, wearing only regular snowboots, swinging sawed-off brooms at a ball in hopes of getting it into the appropriate goal without falling down. I don’t know what the statistics are for injuries, but Micky was part of the count. Her pain, my story.
THUMBS UP FOR BROOMBALL
“Kathy, why ever do I listen to your dumb ideas? This one tops them all!”
I was holding my swollen thumb in the air because it hurt less. No one in the crowded emergency room had shown up with the promised ice pack.
“I’m sorry, Renie. George and Mike told me broomball would be a riot.”
“Talk sense, girlfriend! You haven’t figured out by now that if George and Mike say it’s good, you run the other way?”
“But Renie, everything happens for a reason. And it could have been worse…what if you’d broken your leg?”
“Is that your idea of positive thinking?” I glared at her.
“Maybe you’ll meet someone here, a handsome doctor…”
“Oh God, stop! Kathy, you are such a hopeless, silly romantic. Of course it had to be my right thumb, too. How am I going to take notes with a great whacking cast on my hand? And midterms coming up, my zoo paper due Wednesday…!”
My ranting was interrupted by the nasal voice of the x-ray technician. She brought me to the x-ray room and took pictures of my throbbing hand, then left me in a tiny curtained cubicle, still fretting and fuming. I was checking my watch for the fifteenth time when a tall blond boy in a white coat burst through the curtains.
I watched him pick up my chart. How many orderlies and nurses did I have to go through before I got a doctor?
“Umm, I’ve been waiting quite a while, and my hand hurts. When is the doctor coming?”
His only answer was a brilliant twinkle from intense blue eyes. His mouth twitched at the corners as he looked at my chart, then threw that deep blue gaze back at me.
“I’m Doctor David Stewart, Ms. Barnes. You have fractured your thumb in two places. What were you doing?”
“Playing broomball, the dumbest game in the world. Have you ever done anything that stupid?”
“Doctors are not by nature immune to poor judgment, Ms. Barnes, but you shouldn’t be breaking bones with just a fall, a healthy girl your age. May I ask about your diet? Drink lots of milk?”
“No, milk’s too fatty. I’m watching my fat consumption. The res food is so lousy I often don’t bother, and when I’m up all night finishing a paper I don’t get to eat anyway.”
“You shouldn’t be dieting, Ms. Barnes.” He glanced again at my chart. “You’re what, nineteen? You’re probably still growing and you need calcium. You’re not overweight.”
I don’t take well to being lectured on my diet. Even by a good-looking doctor.
“Do you still drink your milk, doctor? You can’t be much older than me.”
A wide grin appeared below the blue eyes that now held a luminous glow. It was my thumb that was injured; why was something jumping in my stomach? His hands were warm on mine, as he gently but efficiently applied a splint and wrapped it in bandages.
“Well, my mother still calls me her baby; maybe I do look a bit young for my ripe old age of twenty-six, Ms. Barnes. All the same, my residency here will be finished in three months.”
He’d finished wrapping the bandages, but he was still holding my wrist in both hands and smiling at me. I was annoyed with myself for not minding. The blue eyes seemed very close…
“And you’re at the university, too? What are you studying?”
“I’m majoring in foreign languages, doctor. Now it’s my turn to give you some advice—do you know how to order a pizza in Paris?”
He did sound like a boy when he laughed. I’m a sucker for a guy with a generous laugh.
“So—we are fellow students, are we? We should be comparing notes on professors. Come back in a week and let me check out this thumb.”
Gently, he laid my swaddled hand in my lap. I felt a twinge of regret.
“If you come next Friday at eight I’ll be done here. Then if I take you out to dinner, as your doctor I can prescribe food that will knit your bones.”
I tried to scowl at him, but it didn’t work. I was thinking how I’d like another chance to hear that laugh.
He saw my struggle and laughed again.
“Okay, I’ll take you to a French restaurant and you can order for us, then you’ll be one up on me. Fair enough?”
I couldn’t help laughing along with him. I put a hand on my stomach to calm the butterflies and suddenly felt very good.
“I’ll take that for a yes,” he said. “Here’s a few prescription Tylenol for the pain. See you in a week, and if you wish, you’re under doctor’s orders to retire from broomball. You’re right: It’s not a healthy game. I confess to playing it myself once, and I thought it was as stupid as you do.”
I took the packet from him and felt the butterflies do a back flip when I looked into the bright blue gaze. I went out to join Kathy in the emergency room, my hand still patting the butterflies. I could feel a pleased grin on my face, but I couldn’t make it go away.
“Our brief broomball careers are over, Kath. It is a dumb game. But in perspective, it does have some good points.”
“Renie, you aren’t still mad at me? Why do you all of a sudden look like the cat that got the cream?”
“Kathy, you are such a wise romantic.”