In our house, we have an orange cat named Scared-e. She's not a real cat. She's a stuffed toy I purchased on Halloween for a much younger Smartypants. But Scared-e sticks around, often mimicking the real cats that infest our house by wasting the day asleep in Smartypants' bedroom. Last night, however, this pattern caused Scared-e, and myself, some emotional trauma.

The events that transpired before my sudden arrival cannot ever be known with certainty, but I've pieced together a logical chain of occurrences and I beg your forgiveness as I relate a "based on a true story" re-enactment.

Sometime around midnight, Smartypants woke up needing to use the bathroom. She won't go on her own in the middle of the night, so she calls (or cries (or SCREAMS!)) until I stumble into view. When she awoke, however, she knew something was wrong by the wetness above her lip and the acrid taste in her mouth. Soon she felt the blood on her fingers, and she began to scream. The tissue box beside her bed was empty, so she scrounged through darkness and exhaustion for some mechanism with which to staunch the flow of blood. The first thing her hand fell upon was the sleeping Scared-e Cat beside her.

When I strolled into the room, accustomed to these late night potty outbursts, I caught the tone of a scream more full of fear than toilet-induced panic. Thus I found her holding the stuffed orange cat to her face, her eyes closed, her scream deafening, and even in the faint illumination of a closet nightlight I saw Scared-e's orange fur soaked in my little girl's red blood.

I took her to the bathroom, her eyes closed, her nose bloody, and held her hand as she struggled to avoid a late night plunge into toilet water.

After she finished, we went back into her room and she laid on her back, still clenching my hand. She fell asleep shortly after, the blood clotted, with her hand still firmly grasping mine. I waited ten minutes to be sure she was asleep, then Scared-e and I went downstairs.

That's when I saw the devastation and the fear in Scared-e's plastic eyes. Blood stained large patches of fur, caked into the threads, as though some vicious predator had mistaken our little stuffed pal as a midnight snack but left her to die after realizing she tasted like a piece of clothing. I set her on the kitchen table, but she flopped to her side, too disgusted or flimsy to stand.

Thankfully, Scared-e spent a night in the washing machine infirmary, and Smartypants recalled very little of the ordeal. But it's not a vision easily forgotten. A child's dearest stuffed friend, alone on a kitchen table, stained by the child's blood. Not a pleasant thought.

Thankfully, this was only a nose bleed. For some people, the memories conjured may be a lot worse. If nose bleeds are the worst we face, we'll consider ourselves eternally lucky, and we'll offer our best wishes to those who can't share our fate.

A child's blood is filled with too much exuberance and curiosity and excitement to be wasted. I guess little Smartypants must have had a surplus.


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