Tag Archives: Influence

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dream: monsters and corn

 

This is a dream I had. It’s very random and silly, but it’s all I have written down that I like right now.


 

The house where we lived was infested.

Repeatedly throughout the day my kids would call to me, crying. “There’s a monster, mommy, there’s a monster!”

I would rush into the room. Whenever one appeared, the air would get strange, heavy, muted, like having ears stuffed with foam plugs or plunging underwater.

I could see the monster’s shadow under the door, or sometimes it would be even closer, about to harm the kids. It was made of twisted purple and raw red flesh, its head was stretched out of any human semblance, and it lacked a face. When I killed it with a slash, it would disappear, and the air would come back in the room.

This happened so much it became commonplace. The kids and I were the only ones who could see them.

One day a boss-level monster appeared. I opened the front door and there it was. It had a wild circular mane of red hair like a lion. Its nonexistent face was an oversized, blank, caucasian smear. It wore a horizontally striped t-shirt and shorts like kids in the 50’s wore, except its body underneath the clothes was wrongly lumped and muscled against the laws of biology.

It moved in glitches. It glitched past me and went straight for the kids, chasing them across the back lawn. They couldn’t outrun this thing. I ran to save them.

The dream changed. I was a boy with corn-on-the-cob hair. I was trying to sneak through the mall unnoticed, but my high school was having a grand parade right through the center. I’d lied to my girlfriend, telling her I couldn’t come to the parade, and she was sure to see me here, so I hid. Having been strengthened by my fights against the monsters in the earlier dream, I stuck to the ceiling and tried to clamber my way to the door. It was really nerve wracking though, because anyone who looked up would instantly spot me.

Then I saw the perfect hiding place: a float with a human-sized cob of corn. My natural camouflage. I landed right beside it, covered myself in corn, and lay as still as I could.

My friend saw movement and suspected. He came over and tried to sweep all the corn off of me. Panicking, and for lack of better options, I responded by pulling more corn over me. This went on for too long. 


 

Then someone woke me up!

Yes, we’d had corn with dinner that night. Also the beginning part of the dream was almost entirely lifted from the beginning of Hogfather, except the monsters were more like Stranger Things. Sometimes I wonder if I ever actually have an original thought.

Well, the corn cob hair might be too dumb to have been thought of before. Anyway… who cares.

Goodnight!