Mrs. Robison, there’s a phone call for you.” The receptionist’s announcement to my mother barely registered in my mind. I had other things to worry about.
As my mother rose and made her way to the phone, I grabbed another ancient waiting-room magazine, though I knew it would do no good. Nothing could get my mind off the fact that I was, without a doubt, in for a shot. Oh, how I hated shots!
My foot throbbed. I put the magazine down. Why, oh, why did I have to step on that stupid nail?
Everything had been fine just the day before. I was exploring the old storage shed behind our mobile home, looking around for nothing in particular and having tremendous success at that. The shed was stocked with boxes of books my grandparents had put away who knows how many years ago.
Nothing interesting in here, I thought. I left the boxes undisturbed and headed outside to find other places to explore.
Stepping off the shed’s ramp, I landed on something hard concealed in the overgrown weeds. Pain!
I carefully lifted my throbbing foot. For some reason it was heavier than it should’ve been. Suddenly I saw why:
A wooden two-by-four had attached itself to my foot by way of a two-and-a-half-inch nail!
I don’t know which hurt worse: landing on the nail or prying the spike from my foot.
Free of the board and nail, I made my way toward home, wincing with each hop. I threw my bloody shoe into the bathtub. My sock quickly followed.
I examined the puncture, then wet a washcloth and held it tightly to the bottom of my foot to stop the bleeding.
Suddenly I snapped back to the present.
“Daryl,” the nurse called. “Daryl Trowbridge.” Here we go, I thought as I hobbled toward the examination room.
The nurse took my blood pressure and pulse and proceeded to ask me all sorts of questions while I sat with a thermometer in my mouth.
“So which foot did you hurt?”
“Muh rut run,” I mumbled as I extended my shoeless foot.
“I see. And you hurt it when you”–she checked my file–”stepped on a nail?”
“All right.” She took the thermometer and read it. “Your temp is fine. The doctor will be with you soon,” she lied.
Yeah, with a needle, I thought as she left the room.
My mind wandered again as I waited for my mother and the doctor. I thought about how I’d limped around at school all day with one shoe on and how many times I’d had to explain why. I should have worn a sign explaining the whole thing.
Then in fifth period I received a note from the office. It confirmed my fears. “Mom will pick you up after school,” it read. I knew it could mean only one thing–a shot. I hated shots!
After school Mom was waiting right in front of the building with my little sister, Angie. Since Angie’s school was on the way to mine, Mom had picked her up on her way to get me.
I may have needed a shot, but I certainly didn’t need or want an audience. Evidently this was not my day.
Once again I was propelled back to the present, this time by my mother walking into the room. She had a strange look on her face. “What’s wrong, Mom?” I asked.
“That was your grandmother on the phone.”
“What did she say?” I asked.
“I’ll tell you on the way home.”
We sat in silence for a few minutes until the doctor finally entered. He examined my foot, made small talk, and scribbled notes on my chart. “Since it’s been a while since you’ve had a tetanus shot, you’ll need one today. I’ll send the nurse in to clean out your wound and give you the injection. I’ll have a prescription for antibiotics waiting at the front desk.”
My head began to spin.
“Your foot’s going to be sore for a few days, but it’ll be better soon. The nurse will be right with you,” the doctor said as he left.
I don’t even remember leaving the clinic. After the shot I was in a daze.
Mom broke into my trance.
“I think I should prepare you two before we get home,” she began. “That phone call was from Grandma. Kids, she said that our trailer has been totally burned!”
Now I was truly numb. I couldn’t believe it. Our home, our clothes–everything was gone.
We arrived to the sickening sight of a charred, smoldering heap of twisted aluminum, wood, and wires. What are we going to do? Where are we going to live? How are we going to replace everything? Countless thoughts swirled in my mind, with no answers in sight.
“At least no one was inside,” our neighbor interjected. He had called the fire department and tried in vain to extinguish the flames while awaiting the firefighters’ arrival.
Suddenly everything came into perspective. On any other day my mother would have been at work when we got home from school. If my mom hadn’t picked up my little sister before my doctor’s appointment, Angie would’ve been inside our mobile home alone when the fire broke out.
If I hadn’t stepped on that nail the day before, my little sister could have died in the fire! Who would’ve ever thought that the nail in my foot could save a little girl’s life?
Certainly God is true to His word: Before we call, He will answer (see Isaiah 65:24).
Illustrated by Bill Mayer