Band-Aid Series: Even I Need A Band-Aid
By Emma Grace
I had an awful nightmare. I fell asleep in the early morning, probably around 2 or 3 am, but I wish I didn't once the dream started. I stood in a single circle of light, bare feet buried in a loose dirt floor. When I looked down, I wasn't wearing pajamas anymore. I had on a dark blue leotard, glitter covering every inch of it. My arms and legs were covered in colorful band-aids, wrapping around my arms and legs and continuing up my hands like a sick skeletal system.
Then, everything came to life. Lights in every color shone down on me, carnival music blaring throughout a red-and-white striped tent. People filled every row of seats, carrying popcorn and peanuts. I tried to lift my feet from the dirt but it held on tight like cement. I was a freak show, an oddity on display for people to laugh at.
The laughter started rising up as soon as the lights filled the room. I couldn't move, my body was frozen in place as I desperately looked around. I could see the boy and the girl whispering between themselves, grins on their faces. The stranger and the friend were laughing hysterically. The mad girl and the sad boy started throwing food at me, popcorn and peanuts hitting my face and arms.
I practically screamed, but it wouldnt stop. No matter how tight I closed my eyes, it wouldn't stop. Their laughs cut into my ear as I curled up, trying to block out the sound. The band-aids began to hurt, like someone was pressing something sharp against them. It wouldnt stop no matter how hard I wished it would, the laugher kept growing and the band-aids still hurt.
Then it all ended as I woke up with a gasp, gripping the blanket. I looked around my room, taking a few deep breaths to calm my racing heartbeat. The little clock by my bed showed a bright blue "7:00 AM." The alarm was just about to go off, but I didnt wait for it to start beeping into my ear. I started the routine, following the schedule the best I could.
Dad didnt talk to me much today. I was grateful, I didn't feel like talking after that dream. I changed into a t-shirt and sweats, slipping the hoodie over it all and combing down my matted hair. I ate as much cereal as I could stomach, then waited for my dad. Thus began the day, dragging me along whether I was ready or not.
I was still half asleep in the car, the adrenaline had worn off and left me with 4 hours of sleep at the most. I stared out the window, watching the gray shades speed by as we drove. My dad didnt bother talking to me about my attitude, thankfully. It was a quiet 5 minutes, if not anything else. It left me with plenty of time to think about my dream.
Soon enough, we arrived at school. There were already people around, talking amongst themselves in tight little groups. I bit my lip, putting my hood on and stepping out of the car. I dug my hands into my pockets, trying to avoid the crumpled box of band-aids. I didn't need another reminder of yesterday. The little groups didn't notice me arrive, or didn't care either way.
Thus started the day once again. I followed the routine just like usual, ignoring the taunts. I kept hearing Band-Aid Baby all day, little snickers and whispers behind my back. They talked to me like a lost puppy or a baby, which probably wasnt too far from the truth. I got through class the best I could, eventually saved by the bell. Well, saved isnt quite the right word.
Lunch was always bad. I ate my sandwich in silence, trying to stay invisible. I couldn't stomach more then a few bites, but I managed to save the rest of it for later. Lunch was always a chaotic time, it was easier to blend in then. Once again, the bell rang and back to class it was.
Before I knew it, the end of the day came. My dad was late yet again, so I sat down my the entrance and waited. The students flowed out, jumping into cars or buses, or starting to walk to their close by homes. They chatted happily amongst themselves, waiting or walking away from me. Finally, everyone was gone. Well, almost everyone.
The boy sat down next to me, the one who wore the dark blue bandaid with yellow polka dots. I looked over at him, an eyebrow raised. He had a concerned look on his face, gripping something in his hand. Before I could say anything, he asked his question.
"Are you okay?" he asked me softly, just like I did so long ago. I nodded like usual, flashing a small smile. I told him what I told everyone.
"I'm fine," I smiled, curling my knees up to my chest. He probably scraped his knee again, so I started fishing around for another band-aid. He interrupted my thoughts before I could find the just right one.
"I saw what happened yesterday, at lunch. I didnt know what to do, but I think I do now," he muttered, holding up what he held onto. A simple band-aid, a perfect white one with a yellow heart on the middle. I must've looked surprised, because he added, "I know its not much, but youre always giving people band-aids. I thought you could use one."
"I dont need one, dont worry. Dont waste it on me, there are other people who need it," I replied, looking away from him. He shook his head, pushing it a little closer to me. Another voice spoke, the girl with the pink band-aid with lavender stripes.
"You helped all of us when we were hurt. And you're definitely hurt now," she smiled, sitting down next to the boy. I tried burying my head in my knees, but they wouldnt stop talking. I wanted to tell them to stop, to save the band-aid for someone who actually needed it, but a lump grew in my throat.
"You helped him when he fell down. You helped her when she was tripped," I heard the stranger's voice, sitting down on my other side. "You helped me when I felt lonely."
"I dont need it. I dont need it, save it for yourselves," I felt like screaming, but all that came out was a small whisper. I was crying by then, tears soaking my pant's knees. Why was I crying, why couldn't I control myself?
"You arent Superman. You need a band-aid too sometimes," the friend smiled, sitting in front of me. I couldn't say anything, I could barely breathe at that point. A few soft whimpers managed to escape my mouth. I didnt need it, I didn't need a band-aid. I needed to stop this stupid tears.
A different voice made me look up. "Hey.. its okay. Listen, you help so many people. You may not be able to save everyone, but you help a lot. And that's good enough," the mad girl muttered as she sat by the stranger. I must've looked awful as I wiped my eyes desperately.
"But I couldn't help you!" I managed to squeak out, trying to stop the tears in vain. She sighed a little, looking down.
"I'm sorry I shouted at you and destroyed your band-aid. I just... I guess I didnt want to be hurt by someone again. I felt so bad after I lashed out at you." she sighed. "You were right. Those people I hung out with weren't real friends."
One last voice spoke up. "You helped me too. It wasnt right away, but after I got home, I started to feel a little better. It wasnt an immediate fix, but it helped," the sad boy smiled, sitting by the friend. I looked at each of them, wiping my eyes once more.
I looked at each of them, all the people who I helped. The boy, the girl, the stranger, the friend, the mad girl, and the sad boy. They all came together to help someone. I took the white and yellow bandaid with shaking hands, sticking it onto my hand.
"Thank you. Really, thank you. I'm still crying, oh no," I mumbled through tears, but they weren't sad anymore. It was more of a happy crying, a good one. We all came together into a big hug, some of us grinning and others crying. I couldn't control the tears or the gigantic grin. Within the warmth and tears, I realized something. No matter who you are, how strong you are or how happy you seem, we could all use a band-aid sometimes.