He leaves the game with his hands cupped over his nose.
“Are you going, or should I?” my husband asks.
“I’ll go,” I say.
By the time I follow my son into the boys’ bathroom, blood is everywhere. Spattered on the floor and sink like an abstract painting. Running down his hands and arms. It’s in his teeth, under his nails. He’s got two thin paper towels pressed to his nose, and they’re soaked.
But he can’t think about that because his mom just walked into the boys’ bathroom.
“Mom!” he hisses. “This is the boys’ bathroom! There are urinals!”
As if a urinal would stop me.
“Let’s change those out,” I say.
The paper towels are so stiff, I feel like I’m handing him copy paper to stop his nose bleed. I switch out the towels twice, three times, four. The blood soaks through in seconds. So much blood. While he bends over the bloody sink and presses paper towels to his nose, I try to contain the spread of red. It’s all over his uniform, but by some miracle of cheap fabric, it wipes right off.
Two little boys open the bathroom door and step in, then quickly step out. The door closes.
“Mom!” he hisses. “You’re scaring little kids!”
The door opens again and the older of the two boys peeks inside.
“It’s okay,” I reassure him. “Just a mom here. Momming.”
“Come on in, buddy,” my son says. He glares at me in the mirror, but I pretend not to see.
The two boys step inside and sequester themselves in the one stall with a door.
An elderly man opens the door, then quickly closes it. In a moment, the door opens again and he steps tentatively inside.
“I didn’t know if I was in the right place,” he says.
“Oh yes,” I say. “We’ve got a nosebleed. I’m just momming here.”
“Oh my god,” my son moans.
The elderly man waits for the two boys to leave the stall. They run out of the bathroom without washing their hands.
A teenager comes inside and doesn’t even blink to see me standing there wiping blood off the floor. He walks right over to the urinal behind me and unzips his pants. I want to catch my son’s eye and share a giggle, but I know it will have to wait until later.
“This is so inappropriate,” my son mutters under his breath.
“He doesn’t seem to care,” I point out.
The teenager doesn’t wash his hands either.