There’s an old farm saying that when you butcher a hog you should use everything but the oink. It’s a more graphic version of “waste not, want not.” I mean, have you had scrapple? Or if not had it, heard what’s in it? Pig parts and cornmeal, let’s leave it at that.
So I was trying to think what to do with the bits and pieces I’ve trimmed from my books. Some of those chunks of words aren’t even worth an oink and should simply fade away into forgetfulness, but others are kind of–nice. Just not what the book needed.
So here’s one of the bits I liked. It’s from The Memory of Drowning. My main character Ella is taking her best friend’s little girl to get a flu shot. Hey, timely, too!
ADDIE’S FLU SHOT
One afternoon, Ella volunteered to take Adeline to get a belated flu shot. Ella had never gotten the flu vaccine herself. She hated needles and since she’d never had the flu, opted to take her chances. She picked up Addie, strapped her into a borrowed booster seat and headed downtown.
Addie hummed and stroked the hair of a well-worn doll as they pulled up in front of the pharmacy.
“Ready for your shot?” Ella tried to sound cheery as she lifted the child out of her seat and onto the pavement.
“Oh, no,” Addie said. “I don’t want a shot.”
Ella laughed, “Me neither! But it’ll make you safe and keep you from getting sick, so it’s a good shot.” She took the little girl’s hand and led her into the store. They stood in line and Ella answered Addie’s questions, which ran to pointing at various items and saying, “What’s that?” When it was Adeline’s turn, Ella sat in the plastic chair and lifted the child onto her lap. “Ready?” she asked.
“Nope. No shot.” Addie crossed her arms and stuck out her lower lip. The nurse readied her syringe and reached to push up the child’s sweater sleeve. At this, the previously sanguine Adeline let out a screech that made Ella feel like her stomach had just forced its way up between her lungs.
“It’s okay,” she said, trying to comfort the child. “It won’t hurt much and then you can have a lollipop.” The screeching continued at a volume Ella hadn’t known was possible. The nurse sighed, got a firmer grip on Addie’s arm and gave the injection. The moment she pulled the needle out, Addie paused, took a breath and said, “I want a Big Bird Band-Aid.” The nurse obliged and then handed Addie her lollipop. Ella’s ears were still ringing as Addie hopped down and headed for the door, looking back to see that Ella was coming, too.
“Is that normal?” Ella asked the nurse.
“Oh, honey, that child was good,” the nurse said patting Ella on the arm. “You be glad you have one that hollers instead of one that fights or bites or hits. No, she was a pleasure.”
By the time Ella had Adeline belted back in her car seat, the little girl had moved on to the promised trip to the park and was asking could she go really high in the swings this time? Ella marveled, wishing she were half so resilient.