Tag Archives: fear

Russian Dolls

 

She was using the circular saw, and she got distracted. It cut deep into her hand.

She watched it sinking into her skin and raised the saw free before she ever felt anything. Then the pain found her, searing the nerves from her hand to her elbow. She curled up reflexively around the wound and tried not to faint while drops of blood plip-plipped on the garage floor. After a full minute, she regained her equilibrium enough to move. The damaged half of her hand had already drained into an alarming shade of pale.

The hospital. They had to go to the hospital.

She went inside, wrapped her hand tightly in a dishcloth to keep the blood in, and called to her son.

“Alex!” Her voice trembled.

Normally he might have called back, but her uncharacteristic tone sent him running down the stairs. He saw her bloody, limp hand and almost gagged.

“Alex, I need you to drive me to the hospital.”

“God, mom. God. Let’s call an ambulance.”

“No… too expensive. I need you to drive me there.”

“Money doesn’t matter! Your hand matters! What if you pass out? What if I crash?”

She understood his lack of confidence. Alex only had his permit. But she wasn’t worried. “You’re a good driver, Alex. It’ll be fine. We’re going now.”

Her parental authority won out. He got the keys as she struggled into the passenger seat of the car. Her hand throbbed magnificently… at least, the parts she could still feel. The part of her hand above the pinky and ring fingers was so deeply severed, there were no connected nerves remaining. She couldn’t move them at all. Funny how she hadn’t even noticed the damage she was doing until it was this deep.

 

They waited for a long time before the doctor came in. He looked at her hand, cleaned it up, and declared that her fingers would have a fifty percent chance of functionality after surgery. The odds of them still working after healing on its own? Only ten percent.

“What will surgery cost?” She said.

“Tough to estimate,” the doctor said. “At minimum, several thousand dollars. But your insurance will help with that. The receptionist can get you started on paperwork and give you an actual estimate.”

“Right,” she said. She looked at Alex, who already knew what she was thinking. He shook his head at her fiercely.

“Thank you, doctor,” she said formally.

When the doctor left the room, she got off the table, fought back a wave of nausea, and headed for the door. Alex boldly intercepted, blocking her exit. Sometimes she forgot how tall he was getting.

“Mom! Don’t you dare.”

He sounded so much like her. She would have laughed if she’d had the strength.

“It costs too much,” she said firmly.

“It doesn’t matter,” he retorted.

“Just take me home,” she said. “He said it might heal on its own.”

“No way.”

“And if it doesn’t, I don’t need those fingers anyway. I’ve got others.”

“You’ll stay here and get treatment!” He said, fists clenched in frustration.

She looked at her hand. It was already prematurely aged from worry. Now it was a ghoulish rainbow of mottled purple, sickly blue, weak white, screaming red. No good colors there. She looked at Alex, his rich chestnut hair and intelligent brown eyes. 

She had grown up poor. The constant worry of her childhood, the deprivation her family endured, were bitter memories. He would have everything she never had. All the money she scraped together was going into his college fund. There was no way she was going to send him into adulthood saddled with debt and the weight of a poverty mentality. She was willing to sacrifice a couple of fingers for that. For him.

“We’re going,” she said. She gingerly made her way past him and through the door, leaving him no choice but to follow.

“God damn it mom,” he said. He was trying not to cry. “Why won’t you just let them help you?”

“Language,” she chided gently.

 

That night, after putting his mom to a fitful sleep with a freshly bandaged hand, Alex lay down in his own bed, but his eyes would not close. A throbbing headache expanded in his right temple, pressuring the backs of his eyeballs, forcing neon geometry across his vision of the dark ceiling.

He got up, went to the bathroom medicine cabinet, and pulled out a bottle of painkillers. It was light in his hand, nearly empty. He often got headaches like this. These pills had become a comfortable friend to him.

How much did a bottle like this cost, again?

He sighed, ran his thumb longingly over the cap, then put the bottle back. If Mom could take that, he could take this. Money was too tight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winning him over

 

The first day
We showed him the world we had created.
Eager for him to join,
We overwhelmed him with a tidal wave
Of stories, emotions, what made us laugh,
Everything we had learned.
There was a wall behind his eyes.
He watched us but did not understand.
We were sure we’d messed up.
Insulted him somehow.
Or maybe he didn’t like who he saw.

That night, we talked it over.
His worried face in our minds grew clear.
What we had taken for judgment was fear.

He was the one who hadn’t been included
Who felt like he didn’t belong.
He was left out
Left out
And we hadn’t read it right.

The next chance we got
We treated him with more care
Curated his responses
And were rewarded
With uncommon warmth and gentleness.
He relaxed
Into a sage glow
And told us of his life, fears, loves.
Such is the difference
Belonging can make.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

What do you feel

 

What do you feel
With you delicate fingers?
What do you toes?
What tongue what eyes what ears you?
Your gossamer curls
Anachronistic
Your crooked teeth
Pearls
Who is like you?

I hold you close
I want to protect you.
I cannot protect you.
You are being eaten from within.

Your white face
Your trembling hands
Your eyes wet
What tears
Mingle with mine
We sit knee to knee
And grieve our imminent parting.

Though I hold your hand now.
The shadow of your hand
Memory pressed into my flesh
Will linger long after.

Will you remember me?
I share your fear.
Do you feel this tenderness?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

the desperate

 

people can smell desperation.
being social animals,
they pass the desperate by
sniffing in fear
instinctively knowing
this one has been cut off for some reason
a rotting limb
a toxic trash.

the desperate can be found
in the heart of the city
the pulsing downtown.
wherever people collect
so the desperate are drawn
driven to suck what they crave.
what society will not give freely
they parasitize.

in the center of things,
yet humanity flows around them,
unwilling to touch.

in the center of things,
forever on the fringe.

excluded
for fear of exclusion.

because everyone knows
the stink of desperation
is catching.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Losing her

 

There is a still voice in my head.
If I meditate I can hear it.
If I follow its mandates, it gains clarity.
It always speaks the truth.
It is the juxtaposition
Of my intelligence
My years of experience
The leanings of my heart
The echo of the Tao.
Unexpected bubbles from the subconscious.
I know it when I hear it.
It always speaks the truth.

She turned down meeting me again
She had a good reason
And I refuse to push.
I trust our friendship.
But the voice said
In clear unarguable certainty

You’re losing her.

I don’t want to believe it.
But the voice never lies.
Maybe I can push a little harder
Regain the fading attachment.
But I am her friend because
I never push.
Everyone else pushes.
Everyone else gets her time.
If I push,
I become the squeaky wheel.
I become the annoying commitment.

I wish I had never thought this thought.
Now it has been given form,
And the power to strengthen
Into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Are friendships made of fairy dust
Entire worlds jointed together with ephemeria
Just to sparkle then fade?
Are they really composed of convenience?
Am I the only one
Who goes on loving just as hard
Even after I have been left loving alone?
Friends like these
They rise and fall on Fortune’s wheel
Into my life, out of my life
Do they still think of me?
I think of them.
If they came back into my life
If they showed the slightest inclination
I would welcome them with puppy enthusiasm
Happy they are home again.
Am I the only one?

I am afraid to lose this one.
I trusted adulthood
Would keep us connected.

 

But the voice never lies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

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