Maurine lay still on the floor, feeling the coolness of the linoleum against the backs of her arms, her neck as she stared unblinking at the ceiling. Her arm hurt, but not with the intensity she expected. Rather, it was a dull, throbbing ache which pounded up to her shoulder with every heartbeat. She made a conscious effort to calm herself and to slow her breathing, but otherwise she remained perfectly still while sweat coursed down her face and neck. Randomly, she worried about a swaying cobweb which hung from the ceiling, directly above her. Then she focused her attention on the hurried THUMP THUMP THUMP of Anne's approaching sock-muffled footsteps from the dining room. She didn't want her sensitive daughter to freak out so called out to her, “Anne? Annie! I'm okay, I'm all right, baby. “
Which was a blatant lie; she sure didn't feel all right. In fact, the mere act of raising her voice above a groan sent flashes of pain through her left forearm. But she didn't want to needlessly worry Anne, so she kept her face as stoically placid as possible.
Anne raced through the doorway and skidded across the floor on her soft stocking feet, “MOM!”
Maurine shook her head softly, “It's okay, Anne. It's okay. I'm fine, really. Just do me a favor and grab the phone, okay?”
Anne was only ten, and she wasn't sure exactly what she was looking at on the kitchen floor, but she she was sure her Mom was feeding her some amount of bullshit. Tears ran unbidden from her eyes as she reached for the phone hanging from the wall and struggled to regain control of her running nose with a honking sniff. And then, for good measure, she ran her sleeve across her face. She attempted to hand the phone to her mother but Maurine countered with another head shake.
“Why don't you do it for me, okay Hon? Dial 911.”
911?! Jesus! Everybody knew that 911 was for emergencies. What had happened to Mom while Anne had been in her room? Was she going to die? Did Dad kill her? Anne's chin quivered uncontrollably and the leak in her nose increased its flow. She did nothing to reign it in. She could barely see the keys on the phone through her tears.
From the floor, Maurine whispered soothingly, “It's okay, Honey. Calm down. Everything's fine, but I think I may have a broken arm. Just dial 911 and give them our address. Don't panic, just tell them you think your Mom has a broken arm, and could they please send an ambulance.”
Chin still a-quiver, Anne nodded vigorously and punched in the numbers with her thumb. The line didn't even ring before a woman's soft voice answered, “911, what is your emergency?”
“Ummmm, my Mom might have a broken arm. I think my Dad did it. Can you send an ambulance?”
“Of course, Miss. Is your address 614 Willow Lane?”
“Um... Yes! How did you know?”
“I'm sending a unit right out now, Miss. ETA four minutes. Is your mother conscious?”
“Yeah. She's right here.”
“Can you put her on the phone for me, Sweetie?”
Anne paused, frowned, then said to Maurine, “They wanna talk to you. Can you take the phone?”
“Of course, Honey,” Maurine reached out with her right arm, “give it to me.”
They fumbled the exchange a little, and Marine realized when she put the phone to her ear that it was upside-down. She reversed her grip with a groan and finally said into the mouthpiece, “Hello? This is Maurine.”
“Are you okay, ma'am? I have a Police unit four minutes out. The ambulance should be there in about seven.”
“Uh-huh. It's just a broken arm, I think.”
“The young lady who called --”
“My daughter, Anne.”
“Yes. She indicated her father may have done this. Are you in danger right now, ma'am?”