Bloody Nose

My daughter’s nose has been bleeding for days — a trickle, a stream, and suddenly she bleeds steadily from both nostrils.

7:30 on an utterly dark evening just after Christmas: we’re at a gas station at the edge of town on what feels like the coldest evening of the year. Save for a teenage boy in the convenience store, playing on his phone, no one’s around.

While my older daughter hands paper towels to her sister in the car, I stand under the florescent lights and call the ER. What’s the threshold for a bloody nose? I ask. I get fever, but when I should I worry about a bloody nose?  Utterly unconcerned, the nurse tells me I’ll know.

On a post beside me, I read a dirty sign — Fresh Sandwiches To Go — and wonder how many years ago that sign was someone’s bright idea.

I’ll know?

Through the car window, I see my daughter’s eyes, frightened.

Over the holidays, my brother told her all minerals were formed in supernovas and made their far way to earth through meteorites. How cool is that? he said. Our bodies are created from ancient stars.

A single pickup truck passes along the two-lane highway.

The night is utterly still, the darkness beating around us — alive — the pulse of the universe, miraculous with ancient remnants of stars, my open eyes at the edge of the infinite unknown.

Then we head home, where the cats sprawl, sleeping.