The Year Two After School Five-a-Side football club have only just started its first game. Ricky goes in for a positive tackle, catches Nathan on the ankle and they both fall over. Ricky gets up; Nathan doesn’t. He lies on the wooden floor of the gym rolling around, groaning and clutching his foot. There’s blood too – a fair bit – and then the shrieking starts.
‘Miss! Miss! There’s a bone sticking out of his foot!’
The rest of the class is quickly ushered outside into the playground. When the teacher looks at the wound she sees a white thing poking up just above his ankle, which, combined with all the blood, makes her think poor Nathan has broken something. Another teacher with a first aid box passes her a gauze dressing which she holds over the wound whilst someone calls for an ambulance.
Luckily we’ve only just cleared up from a job nearby, so we make it there in a couple of minutes.
We struggle with all our bags through a crowd of kids in red and yellow tabards out in the playground, pressing in, cheering, hollering, calling out stuff.
Is he dying?
What’s in there?
What are you gonna do?
Who are you?
Can I watch?
The games teacher fights an impressive rearguard action, though, buying us just enough time to make it through the main doors and into the hall.
Everything’s fine, though. Nathan has a large wart just above the ankle that Ricky’s kick has partially uprooted. We clean and dress the wound.
There’s plenty of art up on the walls. One is a large sheet covered in crazy self-portraits. I see one that says Nathan, with spaghetti hair, spindly arms and legs, apparently standing on his head in a shower of rain.
‘Is that you, then?’
‘Nah. That’s Nathan in Mallard.’
Mum arrives. She says she’ll take him home and they’ll get some advice on the wart in the morning.
Nathan’s very brave. He pulls a sock on over the injured foot and even though he can weight-bear perfectly well, hop-walks arm-in-arm with his Mum out of the gym.
All his classmates have been carrying on the match on a tarmac enclosure just the other side of the playground, corralled there by the head teacher. But as soon as the doors open and Nathan hops out they abandon the game, rush to the railings and start cheering and clapping again.
‘Haaaaay! Nathan’s alive!’ shouts one.
‘Finally,’ shouts one from the back.