Rewards and rusty nails

By the time we got back from our run and returned to the beach there was a Bronze medallion class in full swing. They were doing their laps from the raft to the next door marina dock. I peeled off my shoes and socks, tossed them under the picnic table, and made my way to the L dock. I hadn’t bothered to take off my t-shirt. It was sweaty and gross, so I figured doing my ‘laundry in the lake’ was a viable option. I walked to the end of the dock and by this point my breathing was almost normal. I took a couple of deep breaths and dove into the deep end. 


The water felt incredible. Such a terrific reward after the run! The gorgeous, pristine waters were so refreshing. I had to admit, as much as I hated running, finding these running partners and then enjoying the restorative dip in the lake afterwards was another unexpected delight. 

I swam out to the raft and then lay out on top. Danielle and Maggie were a minute behind me. All three of us lay on our backs on the raft, basking in the sun and recovering. None of us spoke. In the background we could hear the swimmers splashing by, as the instructors counted out the laps and shouted guidance. 

“Stretch out your arm more on the stroke.”

“Break the surface with your kicks!”

I rolled over on my belly with my chin on my hands and watched as the swimmers churned the waters beyond the raft. My eyes drifted closed as the raft lazily bobbed in their wake. Another small slice of heaven. 

“I wonder…” I finally sighed.


“Who is having more fun. Me? Or my kids?”

Danielle laughed.

“I would hazard a guess that it would be your kids. They don’t have any responsibilities, so it’s all fun for them.” Maggie offered.

“Hmmm. Perhaps.” I said as I lay there. That’s when I heard my name being called from far off, and it sounded slightly desperate. I rolled over and sat up abruptly. “Did you hear that?” I asked.

“Yup,” Danielle answered, “That sounded like it was coming from the multipurpose court, if I had to guess.”

“Duty calls ladies.” I said as I dove into the water. In retrospect, that was possibly my best ‘scene exit’ ever! I swam quickly to shore and ran up the beach to stuff my feet in my shoes. I tossed the towel over my shoulders and grabbed my backpack. I looked up to see Angus motioning for me from the treeline. I scurried as best as I could with my wet running attire, towel and backpack. 

When I caught up to Angus he grabbed my backpack and ushered me through the trees towards a thickly wooded area by the basketball court. 

“What’s up?” I asked breathlessly over my shoulder. 

“Craig hurt his foot.” Angus answered.

A thirteen year old camper, Craig, was crying sitting on the ground in the woods, surrounded by eight campers, each with completely horrified expressions. Those expressions made the acid rise in my stomach. I did not know what the expect. David, the basketball instructor was knelling beside Craig speaking in a calming manner. As Angus and I came around the corner the campers moved out of the way. 

“Hey Craig.” I spoke softly as I knelt down beside him and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. “What happened?”

“My basketball bounced over the fence,” he softly cried, “so I came out here to get it. And I stepped on something.” He moved his right foot. As he did so, I noticed a six inch piece of a two-by-four moved with him. The two-by-four was stuck to his foot. I was not sure how…

“Well let me take a look at it, OK, buddy?”

I turned my back to Craig and picked up his right foot and held it up. As I did so, sure enough, the two-by-four came with it. All the campers gasped and groaned and with that, Craig started to softly sob.

“That would be a nail in there.” Angus whispered in my ear. I felt sick.

“David! I’m gonna need some crowd control, OK?” David jumped up immediately, getting my hint. I was going to have to take this nail out right here and I didn’t relish doing it in front of an audience.

“Guys! Let’s finish up our drills and let Nurse Anne do her job.” The campers slowly left but each of them gave Craig a pat on the shoulder or a word of encouragement. I was impressed by their kindness.

I had a good look at the piece of wood, and sure enough, from the bottom, it was evident that there was a rusty nail in the two-by-four that disappeared into the heel of Craig’s shoe. I cringed but I took solace in knowing that all the campers were required to have a tetanus shot!


“How bad does it hurt Craig?” 

“It mostly hurts when you move my leg around,” he said.

“Oh, OK, well then we will stop moving it around.” I turned to Angus. “Can you please hold his leg steady for me?”

“Are you going to remove it?” Angus said a bit horrified.


“You don’t want to take him to the ER?” Angus whispered. 


“But we were taught in the first aid class never to remove foreign objects. We were taught to secure the object and then seek medical attention.” 

“FYI, I am the ‘medical attention’ that you seek. And that is definitely true about removing objects when it comes to things like an eyeball or the chest or abdomen but I think we will be OK with removing this from his heel. It shouldn’t bleed too much. We will just have to watch for infection in the coming days.” Angus nodded his understanding.

I got up and then knelt facing Craig and got a light hold on the board. Angus was holding Craig’s leg up and Craig stared straight at me with a pouting lip and a furrowed brow.

“Here we go Craig. On the count of three, OK?” I nodded at him. Craig and Angus both nodded back.

“One…two..” and I pulled the board out with one smooth, firm motion. Craig’s eyes widened as he croaked out, “Three?” I pulled off his shoe and sock and had a look at the heel. Not one drop of blood. Craig grabbed at his ankle and pulled his foot towards his face and examined it.

“Wow! Nuthin.” Craig said and smiled. Applause and cheering broke out. I turned to look and all the basketball players were lined up against the fence clapping and hooting. They had been watching the whole time! 

“Hey guys! I’m gonna be OK!” Craig said as he waved his shoe in the air. 

“Go scrub that really well with soap and water, and I will give you some antibiotic cream and a band-aid, OK Craig?”

“Ya. Thanks Nurse Anne.” Craig said as I handed Angus the tube of cream and a band-aid from my backpack.

I was zipping up my backpack and gathering my things as Angus helped Craig to his good foot. Craig wrapped an arm around Angus and started hopping towards the bathroom. As they hopped away I heard Angus talking to Craig.

“Have you heard the joke of the day?”

“Nope.” Craig said between hops.

“What did one eye say to the other eye?”

“I give up.” Craig answered.

“Between you and me, something smells! Ha! Ha! Ha!”

“Oh, I get it. It’s the nose. That’s a real knee slapper Angus!”

“It is, isn’t it?” Angus responded. 

I giggled.

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