They say the baby just wouldn’t stop
crying and Mom noticed his right leg
was swollen this morning as she changed
his diaper. He lies as still as a stuffed
animal while I hold him down for the X-Ray.
As Rachel makes the exposure, I look over at Mom,
at Dad, but they aren’t looking at each other. And while
I would like to blame the father—it’s usually the
father, isn’t it?—this time I just don’t know. There’s
something about this girl and her Iron Maiden T-shirt
and arms folded tight across her chest that rubs me wrong.
It will come out, what really happened. It always
does because by the time we get back to the Peds
ER, their room will be filled with Police and
social workers and one of these parents will crack.
But for a moment I forget all that, cast it far into
the future, as I bend over to remove the tiny lead
shield from the baby’s pelvis and he looks me in
the eye. It takes my breath away, how bright and
alive his eyes are, as they search my face for
something—help or hope or perhaps answers to
questions it can’t yet begin to understand—and
I keep staring down at him, until I feel Mom step
up and take her baby into her skinny little arms,
reminding me that my bit part in this drama is over.