January 2005 / Volume VI / Issue I
Linda Wandt

The Toughest Kid

When I was 17
I worked at a kidís sports camp.
Working as field medic
mostly meant wiping up
puke in the nurses office
or searching long and hard
for just the right sized band-aide
for 8 year olds with specific
None of the other medics
would volunteer for
equestrian dutyó
they all wanted to sit around the
air conditioned tennis building flirting
& reading magazines waiting for
kids to come needing ice bags
instead of sitting out in the heat
with the horses and the maybe
serious head injury if one of
the kids got thrown or trampled.
It was a pain dragging around the backboard
and it stunk like sweat & shit, but I loved it,
even when a horse stepped on my foot while
I was wearing red canvas All-Stars and
wouldnít move and he almost broke every bone
in my right foot & I got chewed out by my boss
for wearing soft shoes
and I limped funny for weeks.
Really, the worst thing I saw that summer
was a broken leg.
A kid running on the basket ball court
somehow stepped down on a basketball,
had all his weight in it, and he
rolled the ankle completely to the outside side,
popped a bone right out of the socket,
Iíd never seen anything like that.
His left tibia, the smaller bone in the lower leg,
just popped and snapped near the bottom,
punched through the skin,
and Iím still not positive that story makes sense,
but there it was, broken bone splinters
tore through, you could see the shiny white amidst
all the red,
and the kid, maybe twelve years old,
never cried or screamed in pain or complained
about it, like an adult would,
he just sat there waiting for the ambulance
totally calm, maybe in shock, staring down at his leg,
with a look of awed curiosity,
daring me to poke it, and I kind of wanted to.