I was washing the dishes when there was a loud, brief scream and then a sudden silence. This could mean anything. I counted silently, 1… 2… 3… 4… Ah yes, there it was — the ear-piercing wail to follow up. Someone was hurt. E2 came running in first, with big wet tears streaming down her cheeks and crying at full volume, and flung her arms round my neck. E1 followed, looking concerned but hesitant and more than a little guilty, and hung back in the doorway.
“What happened?” I yelled over the screams. E2 had not drawn breath and I was sure the windows were about to shatter — certainly my left eardrum was not far off it. E1′s mouth moved as she pointed to her finger and then gesticulated out into the hallway, but I couldn’t hear what she said. I asked again and managed to catch, “…I closed the door…” Ah, I see.
I held E2 for a bit longer and let her cry it out in the safety of my arms, and then pulled back and picked her hands up. “Is it this one, or this one?” She held one index finger aloft. Her eyes were huge and doleful, her lip stuck out, her cheeks red and wet, and her nose streaming. I inspected the injured finger — nothing serious — and then kissed it gently. “There. Is that better?” She stopped crying and looked at her finger pensively and a little surprised, then looked up at me. She brought her finger up to her own lips, furrowed her brow in concentration, and kissed it herself. I smiled. “Good girl.”
Having thus comprehended this magic, she turned and toddled over to her sister with her arm up and the injured finger outstretched. E1 kissed it without hesitation — she knows this is serious medicine. And with her cure now complete, E2 reached up and took her sister’s hand and they disappeared through the door and down the hall together — friends again, as ever.