Monday, July 6, 2015

Severed Fingers

“Could you help me practice my batting?” my sister asked.

I frowned at her with my hands on my hips.

“Please,” Sis said with her head cocked to the side.

How could I say no?  Pursing my lips, I marched out to the front orchard to pitch her a few balls.

Mom and I were supposed to pick up my best friend and her mom for Back-to-School Night, and I still had chores to do.  I grumbled under my breath as Sis continued to ask me to pitch her “just one more.”  I didn’t have my watch, and I was certain we would be late.

I let out a loud breath.  “This is it.  Last one,” I told her.  “I’ve got to go.”  I pitched that last ball and took off running to the old shop where I had to grind grain for the pigs.

I could hear the radio playing its usual country music in the milk barn just behind the back wall.  Dad had already started milking the cows.  It must be late.  I switched on the grinder, but the belt on the motor didn’t turn.  Sometimes, you had to give it a little pull.  I reached down with my right hand, gave a little pull, and switched on the motor to the grinder with my left.  The fingers of my right hand got sucked up into pulley holding the belt.

I flipped the switch.  A sick feeling spread through me like a shot.  I screamed, but Dad couldn’t hear me with the radio on.  I worked my finger out from under the tight belt and stared down at my hand that had two open gashes across each side of my knuckles from my middle finger to my pinky.  It looked white and blue and frozen, but then blood started to gush from the gashes.  Nausea rose to my throat.

It would be all right.  I would run some cold water on my hand, put on a few Band-Aids, and we would still make it to the school.  My best friend and I planned on sharing a locker so I had to be there.

Clamping a hand over the injured fingers and squeezing tight, I raced to the house. Mom scurried around the kitchen, fixing dinner and talking to my older, married sister on the phone.  I ducked under the long phone cord and shoved my fingers under the kitchen faucet.  The cold water felt good.  I kept glancing anxiously at the clock above the sink.  Red water continued to flow down the drain.  When would it stop?  I frowned and gritted my teeth, waiting for the color to chance.  Maybe I needed to let it dry to form the clots.  As I shut off the water, Sis came through the backdoor. 

“What's been spilled all over the back steps and through the house?” she asked.

Mom stopped in her tracks, gasped, and told my older sister she’d have to call her back.  “What happened?” she called, running for towels.

“Just a cut,” I said.  “I just need a couple of Band Aides.”

“Go get your dad,” she said to Sis.

I tilted my head to the ceiling and let out a heavy sigh.  Dad would understand.  Didn’t he always say, “I’ve been hurt worse picking my nose?”

The minute he hit the backdoor, Mom cornered him and whispered to him.

“Dad,” I called in a sharp tone.  “It’s no big deal.”

He marched into the kitchen, unwrapped my hand from the towel, grimaced, and headed for his wallet and the car keys on the rack.  Off to the emergency room we flew.

“You’re all making too big of a fuss about this,” I said.  “We need to pick up Kayleen and her mom and get over to the school.”

Well, I guess I needed fussing over.  I had severed my pinky finger nine-tenths of the way off.  The only thing holding it together was the back skin.  Everything had been cut through—bone, arteries, nerves, everything.  My middle and ring finger fared better but still significantly cut.

A specialist had to be called and we waited in the hall for over an hour for him to arrive.  Dad finally complained about me being left in the hall, still bleeding into our best bath towels, so they finally moved me into a room.  Thick, black grease and grain dust had been ground into the tissue of my hand so badly that it had to be scrubbed out with a stiff bristle brush for what seemed like forever. The numbing shots had worn off and the doctor was still scrubbing.

As the clock ticked away, all I could think about was my best friend, not getting to share the evening, and whether she’d be mad at me for not showing up.

Ever wish you could take back that split second in time?

I’m lucky to have my fingers and the feeling in them, although not complete mobility.  The recovery was long and painful.  In fact, I wore a colored glove on one hand long before Michael Jackson ever thought about it.  It helped everyone to notice and stop bumping into it.  Even after a year, while talking to Mom, I merely touched my pinky on the door frame into the sewing room and blacked out.

Who knows?  Maybe the event did stop me from being impatient and impulsive.  But I’m afraid I still have a desire for immediate change and action.  Those that know me know, “I’ve gotta make time.”

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs!
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Copyright of dog photo: adogslifephoto / 123RF Stock Photo


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