by J.H. Watson
~ 3,000 words
Mycroft looked up from his studies as soon as he heard the sound of a chair being pushed across the floor in the hall. He was on his feet the moment he heard the chair creak as weight was placed on the seat and back, but it still wasn’t fast enough to stop Sherlock or the accident. Mycroft arrived just as his little brother had gotten his right foot onto the top shelf of the hall closet and was pulling the rest of him up with his left hand. A chair that had obviously been used to start the ascent stood in front of the open door.
“Sherlock!” Mycroft called out sharply.
Sherlock turned to look over his shoulder at his big brother. They would never know whether the shelf was already loose or it was the stress of the sudden movement combined with the extra weight of a two-year old hanging from it, but the end of the shelf gave way and the boy came down in an avalanche of boxes, toys and sporting equipment. Sherlock bounced once off the chair and then to the hall floor, amidst the detritus still raining down from the cascade started by the collapse of the top shelf.
Mycroft reached his little brother before the last item, an Action Man figure, ricocheted off Mycroft’s shoulder. Mycroft tossed aside the cricket bat, pads, tennis rackets, badminton net and assorted toys until he uncovered his brother lying very still in a very awkward position. Mycroft said very quietly, “Sherlock.” When he got no answer, he called a little louder, “Sherlock?” He’d reached out and touch his brother’s head and his fingers felt damp and sticky. He pulled the hand back and saw blood. He felt for a moment as if his stomach had plunged to his feet and he froze in fear as the limbic portion of his brain seized control. But it was only a moment, no matter that it seemed an hour. Mycroft’s higher level mind quickly regained control and he carefully turned his brother over and was relieved to see his brother breathing with eyes wide open in shocked surprise.
It had all happened in a matter of seconds and by now the noise had brought Nanny on the run and Mummy at a more sedate pace. Nanny pushed Mycroft aside and began fussing over Sherlock with cries of “Oh, poor baby!” and “How many times have I told you not to climb on the furniture?”
Mummy glided to a halt and surveyed the carnage like a general surveying the aftermath of a battlefield. She didn’t have to ask what happened. She rarely did. “Call the doctor, Nanny, and get the car brought around.”
Nanny gently eased Sherlock back down and took off down the stairs. “Don’t run, Nanny. We don’t want another accident,” Mummy ordered. Nanny slowed to a fast march and quickly disappeared.
Mummy looked down at Sherlock and asked, “Can you walk?”
Sherlock flexed his legs. He started to sit up, but as soon as he tried to put weight on his hands, he cried out. Mycroft dropped instantly beside his brother and placed an arm around his waist and helped Sherlock get to his feet. Then Mycroft set Sherlock on the chair and looked at him. Silent tears were coursing down Sherlock’s cheeks. His lower lip trembled as he held out his left hand where two fingers bent at odd angles. He pressed his left arm against his body as if to brace it. Mummy said, “Get a blanket, Mycroft.”
Mycroft quickly brought out Sherlock’s favourite blue striped “blankie” and Mummy took it and wrapped it around Sherlock’s shoulders. Sherlock winced when she pulled it snugly but kept it wrapped tightly with his right hand. “Can you stand up now?” Mummy asked and Mycroft move immediately to his brother’s side and tried gently to lend support as Sherlock slid off the chair slowly.
Sherlock pinched his lips tightly together as his feet hit the floor but said nothing and remained standing. He took a hesitant step forward. Mycroft kept an arm around the little boy and tried to move with him. Sherlock took another step, this one a bit stronger.
“All right. Mycroft, take him slowly to the car while I go get my handbag and leave instructions.”
Mummy took off in her elegant, graceful pace as Mycroft said, “Come on, Sherlock. Take your time.” And as Sherlock hesitated again, Mycroft added, “But try to be quick about it. We don’t want to keep Mummy waiting too long.”
The stairs proved a bit tricky, but Sherlock stubbornly refused to let Mycroft try to carry him and by letting go of the blanket, Sherlock was able to use his right hand to put most of the weight on the banister. Mycroft held the blanket in place and kept a protective arm around Sherlock’s back and eventually they made it out to the car. Mummy was already behind the wheel giving Nanny some rather complex instructions on phone calls to make and repairs to be started. Nanny lifted Sherlock into the car seat. He whimpered as Mycroft fastened the seat belts across his shoulder, but made no other noise.
While it only took twenty minutes to reach the doctor’s office, it seemed interminable to Mycroft, who watched Sherlock bite his lip with every bump and turn in the road, despite Mummy driving more carefully than Mycroft could ever remember. Twice Sherlock closed his eyes and scrunched up his face when they turned a sharp corner that caused them to sway to the left. But Mycroft could see that, for whatever reason of his own, his brother was determined not to cry out.
They were ushered quickly into an examination room and a nurse removed the blanket, shoved a thermometer into Sherlock’s mouth, told him to keep it there, and asked what happened. Sherlock started to mumble, “Fell—” around the thermometer. The nurse looked at him and said, “Don’t talk. Keep the thermometer still and your mouth closed.”
Mummy said, “He was climbing some shelves and the top one broke, and he fell along with everything on the shelves.”
The nurse said, “Hmm.” as she continued to remove Sherlock’s clothes and study his injuries. When the nurse started to remove his shirt over his left shoulder, he gave out a small cry and she proceed more carefully. She slid the sleeve extra slowly over Sherlock’s left hand where the bones of two fingers were obviously broken. The nurse took the thermometer out of Sherlock’s mouth when it beeped and began prodding his little body as she asked, “Are you dizzy? Are you going to throw up?”
“Do you feel any pain in your tummy or chest?”
He winced every so often when she touched a tender spot. Bruises were starting to form, particularly on the left side. The nurse poked that area again and Sherlock said, “Ow!”
Mycroft jumped and started forward. Mummy reached out and placed a restraining hand upon his arm. When the nurse started to raise Sherlock’s left arm he cried out sharply. Mycroft closed his eyes for a moment as the bile rose in his throat. Tears spilled out again and Sherlock clamped his mouth shut tight. Throughout, Sherlock kept his eyes on Mummy.
“I’ll be right back with the doctor,” the nurse said as she bustled out of the room.
The three sat in silence. Mycroft wanted to go to Sherlock and hold him, but he felt constrained to emulate Mummy’s serene composure. After a few moments, the doctor entered and started his own examination which included checking Sherlock’s eyes and more questions about dizziness, faintness, and pain, all of which Sherlock answered with a monosyllabic “No.”
The doctor gingerly began cleaning the wound to Sherlock’s head. He smiled at the little boy and said, “Well, you’ve got a nasty crack on your noggin.”
Sherlock stared at the doctor for a second before saying, “No. Left parietal.”
The doctor paused. He glanced at Mummy who raised an eyebrow as if daring the doctor to comment. The doctor then very gently took Sherlock’s left arm and, bracing it with one hand, began to work his fingers at the shoulder. Sherlock winced and let out gasp, followed by a mewling sound.
The doctor said, “We’ll take x-rays to be certain, but I’m pretty sure you’ve broken your collarbone as well, young man.”
“Clavicle,” replied Sherlock.
The doctor smiled and asked, “Are you going to tell me you didn’t break your fingers?”
Sherlock stared stubbornly at the doctor and said, “Proximal phalanges.”
The doctor laughed. “Very good. How are your ribs?”
The doctor prodded them methodically. “Anything feel broken?”
Sherlock grimaced but said, “No.”
“Okay, but I think we’ll just make sure.” The doctor continued to check the rest of Sherlock down to his toes for additional fractures, contusions or lacerations. Afterwards the doctor told the nurse to arrange what seemed like a tremendous number of x-rays on pretty much every portion of Sherlock’s anatomy. The nurse left and another came in with a tray containing a hypodermic needle and a small gown draped over her arm.
As the doctor carefully rolled up the sleeve of Sherlock’s shirt, he asked, “Any known drug allergies?”
Mummy replied, “No, but what are you giving him?”
“A little morphine. Right now his body is in shock and blocking the pain, but as soon as we start moving those bones, he’ll start screaming and become hysterical.”
“I doubt that,” said Mummy.
“No,” said Sherlock. He looked at the needle in the doctor’s hand and said more adamantly, “No!”
“It’s okay. I’m going to put a little alcohol on your arm here and you’ll hardly feel a thing.”
Sherlock jerked his arm away from the doctor’s hand and said, “No!” His eyes were large and his face had paled. Mycroft began to get out of his chair, when Mummy said, “Sherlock.” It was her firm voice, the one that reached into your brain and seized your spinal column and froze you into place. Sherlock froze. So did Mycroft.
The doctor quickly swabbed Sherlock’s arm and slipped in the needle. It was a thin needle and a small dose, but Sherlock’s lower lip quivered. Mycroft caught Sherlock’s gaze and held it until the needle was withdrawn.
“There you go. See? Not so bad, was it?”
“Yes,” Sherlock replied.
The doctor laughed and told the nurse to start undressing Sherlock and getting him into the gown. The doctor attempted a few jokes with Sherlock which fell quite flat. He only attempted one joke with Mummy who gave him her Look and asked, “Will he be staying overnight?”
“It depends upon what the x-rays tell us. I don’t like that bump on his head. We’ll keep a close eye on him while we patch him up to make certain he doesn’t have a concussion. But unless we find something else, I think we’ll be sending him home tonight.”
Mummy nodded and said, “I need to make some calls. Mycroft, stay here and take care of your brother.”
Sherlock watched Mummy leave with very bright eyes and a questioning gaze as an orderly brought in a gurney. “Mummy will be back in a few minutes, Sherlock. It’s alright,” Mycroft said. He stood up and walked over to his little brother.
“Please stay out of the way,” the nurse said. Sherlock was lifted and placed on the gurney. As the morphine began taking effect, Sherlock became euphoric. He pointed to the nurse and said, “Mustache!” before bursting into a fit of giggles. The nurse, who did have a five o’clock shadow, didn’t appreciate the laughter and said, “Be still!”
Sherlock just giggled some more and replied, “Like drugs.”
“No, you don’t,” Mycroft told him. He slipped close enough to take hold of Sherlock’s right hand, the one that wasn’t broken.
Sherlock laughed again and said, “Yes! Feel good.”
“You won’t later. And you can’t think properly on them.”
The nurse placed a chart on the end of the gurney and told the orderly to take Sherlock to x-ray. Sherlock’s grip tightened on Mycroft’s hand. Mycroft started to go with the gurney but the nurse said, “You can’t go with him. You’ll have to wait in the Waiting Room. Someone will come get you when he’s finished.”
Mycroft watched his baby brother disappear behind a set of pea green double doors.
It was four hours later when the nurse came for Mycroft and Mummy. Mycroft had found her at the phones giving instructions to his father’s secretary about changes in reservations. He’d stood by until she finished and then followed her to the Waiting Room where she commandeered the most private grouping of seats and took out a book from her handbag to read. Mycroft trolled the nearby tables until he found a copy of “The Economist” and “Better Home and Gardens.” He’d finished both long before the nurse called for them.
The doctor reported that, along with the obviously broken fingers, Sherlock had fractured his left clavicle, but fortunately had a “thick skull” and suffered nothing more than a minor cut on his head. They were admonished to keep an eye on Sherlock in case he showed any signs of a concussion later in the evening and were given several sheets of prescriptions and a stack of instructions. Sherlock came out in a wheel chair, with his broken fingers in splints and his left arm and shoulder in a figure-eight brace that kept him as straight as a soldier. He was considerably more somber than the last time Mycroft had seen him. Mycroft took control of the wheelchair and followed Mummy through the process of signing Sherlock out, picking up the prescriptions, and getting a final set of instructions. Mycroft listened carefully to the schedule for applying ice packs, administering anti-inflammatory medications and painkillers as needed. He was rather doubtful about his ability to keep Sherlock “quiet and calm” for the next few weeks.
As they drove home, Mummy asked Sherlock, “What have you learned from this?”
From his carseat in the back, Sherlock mumbled, “No doctors.”
“I doubt you’ll be able to avoid them, especially if you keep acting so impulsively. I was rather hoping you learned to make certain that the object can hold your weight before you climb on it.”
From the back came a soft, “Yes.”
“And that the consequences of disobedience can be painful.”
Mummy glanced at Mycroft and said, “You taught him anatomy.”
“Just the bones and the major organs and body parts. It helped me learn them.”
“Perhaps you could teach him to communicate in complete sentences before you head to Eton. His baby talk brevity is getting tedious.”
“Yes, Mother. I’ll try.”
Nanny made a big fuss over Sherlock and fluttered about putting him to bed and running up and down stairs with ice packs and cocoa and cooling washclothes that she’d place on Sherlock’s forehead and which he’d promptly toss to the floor when she turned away. Their father came in once to see “the war wounds” as he called them and tell Sherlock that he’d been a “brave little man.”
Nanny scuttled off to get dinner for the boys after Mycroft promised he’d stay with Sherlock.
“Would you like me to read to you?” Mycroft asked.
“All right. What would you like?”
“I’m reading Treasure Island. You’re too little for it. How about The Cat in the Hat?”
Mycroft sighed. There was no getting around it. Sherlock wasn’t going to be happy until he’d heard at least a little of Treasure Island. Mycroft fetched book from his nightstand and came back to Sherlock’s bedside. Sherlock had scooted over so that there was room for Mycroft to sit beside him on the bed.
“There aren’t many pictures in this book, you know.”
Mycroft settled himself and his brother as best he could with Sherlock’s brace keeping the boy stiffly upright. “You know, Sherlock, you should start trying to speak in complete sentences. You can’t keep talking like a baby, especially when I’m gone.”
“Gone?” Sherlock looked at Mycroft with wide, questioning eyes.
“I’m off to school in a few years.”
“Because I have to go to school.”
“Because it’s what all boys have to do to get educated and make connections.” The last bit came out a bit stiffly. It was what Mummy and Father had said when Mycroft said he’d really rather not go away to school. It was quite clear that the decision was made and Mycroft was expected to accept it and to do his best to meet their expectations.
“Yes. Now I’ll read to you until Nanny returns with dinner and you can turn the pages, okay?”
Sherlock pinched his lips together for a moment as he wrinkled his brow in thought before nodding. Mycroft read as he always did to Sherlock, running his finger under each word so that his little brother would know when to turn the page. They’d gotten no farther than the appearance of the Black Dog when Nanny returned, followed by Cook, each with a tray.
“Here you go, young man. A nice bit of broth for you and some nourishing egg custard for pudding,” Nanny said as she set the tray across Sherlock’s lap. Sherlock looked across at the tray being handed to Mycroft. It held a plate of fish fingers and steamed broccoli with no pudding.
Sherlock put on his best puppy-dog eyes and Oliver Twist expression and said, “If it’s all the same to you, Nanny, I’d rather have fish fingers like Mycroft. Although, I will keep the custard.”
Three jaws dropped open.
Sherlock reached across with his right hand and picked up one of Mycroft’s fish fingers and added, “And I’d like some tartar sauce as well.”
Mummy was going to be pleased.
### The End ###