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I am trying to have my character's secret discovered, they are currently in a hospital, and hiding injuries under their clothes, a couple of which have reopened. They are underaged so they are at least stuck there, police are not involved. How can I get the nurse to realize that they're injured?

Background, they are wearing a black school uniform, so the blood isn't going to show up. They were brought in by a school nurse after passing out at the end of class (hit their head) and on the way to the nurse's office, character is trying to play it off as they overreacted. Parents are not answering the phone

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Blood may not "show", but it will wet their clothing and that will show, and any physical examination is likely to be either without the shirt, or the doctor or nurse will use a stethoscope under the shirt. Our doctor, examining my wife, always puts the stethoscope under her shirt, against the skin.

Their hand or instrument will come back bloody. They may notice the wetness on the black shirt. Try it. Pour a shotglass full of water on a black shirt, and see if you can tell the difference. I certainly would.

Even for a hit head, if somebody passed out the doctor is going to check their ribs for bruises, and their limbs for range of motion, to see if anything is sprained or bruised. Is your character not going to even wince? Because the doctor will be watching for that.

If your character is female, do not think this won't be done. She'll get either a female doctor, or a female nurse will be in the room as a witness.

As the author you clearly want these injuries to be discovered, so just make sure this routine examination for a fall is the way they are discovered.

Observed wetness of the shirt, observed pain when pressed or touched, and observed blood on the doctor's hand or instrument when using a stethoscope to listen to the lungs or heart.

These are all plausible routes to discovery that nobody that has been examined by doctor is going to question. The heart in particular could be the culprit, a reduced blood flow could cause the victim to pass out and hit their head.

And if they do an electrocardiogram, as is quite routine in a standard physical exam, the shirt comes off completely so the dozen or so sensors can be taped into place. I get one every year as part of my normal physical, and so does my wife for hers.

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  • The wounds are on their thighs not torso, and I have him (Character is male) trying to avoid moving because he's trying to cover up the blood print(?). Other parts were really helpful but I'm pretty sure I'm going to need to find someone to just help me directly cause I have a lot of details to juggle, and this is for general help Commented Apr 27 at 23:05
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    @ArceusInsanity I think you are underestimating the observational powers of doctors. If there is blood, it is leaking. All you need for writing is a plausible doctor, that observes an actual wet spot on their thighs, and asks the victim to remove their trousers. You seem to want to deny yourself the obvious opportunity. Write an actually good, observant and attentive doctor. If the character is trying to avoid moving, the doctor will notice that too, and investigate for pain in the hips and legs, in case something was bruised or broken there.
    – Amadeus
    Commented Apr 28 at 0:06
  • @ArceusInsanity P.S. This site is not only for general help. We don't tell what to write, we don't do critiques or reviews, but we can get into the details and plot strategies of crafting a story. We are here to help you craft a plausible story that won't break reader immersion, without you relying on us to do the writing for you. For me, an utterly incompetent "doctor" would break my immersion. And you wanted an "involuntary reveal" anyway!
    – Amadeus
    Commented Apr 28 at 14:24
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The conventional, cliché mechanism in most movies is that the kids cannot hide either the pain or the blood from the injuries and that the worried nurse forces them to allow her to examine them.

I'm sure you have seen this countless times. It happens in almost all action movies. Usually it is the love interest who so disovers the injuries of the hero, and her tender treatment of his wounds usually leads to their first sex (cf. "sex at 60"). In a conventional movie, overcoming the reluctance to accept help leads to trust between the two (or in your case, three) characters, and from then on they work together.

If you have written your scene so that the kids can hide both their pain and their blood, then there is no way for the nurse to discover their injuries and you have written yourself into a corner. You need to backtrace and rewrite that scene to make the discovery possible, if you need it for your story to progress.

It is a common mistake that aspiring writers make to construct the obstacles in their story so perfectly that they cannot be overcome, effectively bringing the plot progress to a halt. The solution is always to introduce some imperfection. An impenetrable secret is impenetrable – and boring, because the story ends there. Make it penetrable.

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A limp, a grimace, etc.

If your child is "able" to hide the pain, it could be an opportunity to develop one character a little (e.g. the nurse) who turns out to be the only one to notice it because of their experience in working with children or something.

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