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Living Photograph

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Living Photograph

I’m looking at my hand.

As I look, my gaze falls upon the two-inch long scar that slithers across the right side of my wrist. My eyes dart around it, seeing the pale white dots where I remember the needle sliding in, thread in tow.

It is ten years ago. I am feeling like a patchwork shirt getting stitched back together again.

It is an hour before that. My sister and I are playing a harmless game of tag. We are chasing each other around the house while my mother prepares my little brother to go over to our grandmother’s house.

It is ten minutes in the future. I am crying while my mother yells at my sister to grab a towel from the kitchen.

It is forty years ago. The house my parents will buy is being built. The construction workers put in a heavy oak door, with an aluminum storm door outside the oak. They install plate glass into the door, as safety glass had yet to be invented.

I am lying down in a hospital. I can see my carpal bone through the tears streaming down my face and torn muscle no longer obstructing my view.

It is twenty minutes before that. I am “it”, and my sister decides to take our game outside. The oak door is already open, but the aluminum storm door, which closes automatically, is shut.

It is two hours in the future. My mother is calling my grandmother as to why we were unable to visit as planned.

It is coming soon.

My sister opens the storm door and races outside. I am not far behind her. I am preparing to simply push the door open before it closes. I believe I can make it.

It is eight seconds in the future. I miscalculated when I could get to the door.

It is six seconds in the past. My heart is pumping, and I reach my hand towards the handle to push the door open.

Four seconds now.

As I near the handle, time seems to slow to a crawl in anticipation. My hand is outstretched as far as my eight-year-old body will allow.

Two seconds.

In a split second before my hand reaches the handle of the door, I hear the mechanism for keeping the door shut lock into place.

Dawning realization suddenly washes over my face as I prepare for what is now inevitable. I am comfortable here, in this single moment of peace and clarity, before the whirlwind of chaos begins. It cannot last.

The moment is over. My hand makes contact with the horizontal handle of the now closed door. My forward momentum keeps me going, and my hand rotates around the handle so that my bare wrist slams into the glass. It shatters in a cascading explosion of shimmering crystal, casting an eerie, instantaneous glow around the doorway as light refracts through the now scattered glass pieces. One lone shard flies through the air, almost in slow motion, slicing a deep gash in my wrist.

It is present day. I see the scar like an old photograph, a snapshot of a single, traumatic moment. The scar writhes across my wrist, defiant, laughing at the stupidity of my eight-year-old self. It’s cliché that a picture is worth a thousand words. I say a scar is worth a million.

It is ten years ago. Shrieking, sharp, howls of the damned erupt from my young lungs. I am in shock, terrified, and in agony.

It is a few moments after that. My mother is frantic, afraid that the one lone shard may have hit a major artery or vein. She yells at me to keep the pressure on my future scar with the bloody, soiled towel in my left hand.

It is twenty-one minutes before that. My sister boasts that I cannot catch her, and an intense game of tag begins. Her taunts are heavy and thick with unknowing destiny.

I am in the hospital. The doctors have injected my wrist with a drug known as Lidocain, similar to Novocain. The long, slender needle piercing my open wound and the drug coursing through my eight year old body is the worst pain I have ever felt, even worse than when the one lone shard sliced my wrist.

I’m only eight. I shouldn’t need drugs in me.

I am being sewn back up. The Lidocain has yet to begin working. Each stitch feels like the needle is red hot, and each one is worse than the last. I can see my carpal bone for the last time.

My father has just shown up, shocked at what happened. My mother, looking extraordinarily worried, explains the situation to him. They look very frightened. I worry for them. Me, the boy with a huge tear in his wrist, is worried for his parents. Eight-year-old naïveté.

My grandmother sits wondering where we are.

I long for the moment of peace and clarity where I am comfortable, just before my hand makes contact. The stillness of the glass still in place, the serenity that overcame my entire being. I love it.

I am back in the hospital. I risk a look at my wrist. The blood-soaked needle, moving at what seems to be as slow as it possibly can, is slipping and sliding through skin and flesh. The sight of it is nauseating, and I want to vomit.

It is two hours ago. I am extremely excited to find out that I will be visiting my grandmother today, as I haven’t seen her in a long time. Fate can play cruel jokes on eight year olds, like turning games of tag into moments of horror, or filling them full of a drug. I don’t like Fate’s sense of humor.

I imagine Fate is very lonely.

I wake up in the hospital in a daze; my wrist is in a gauze cast. I am deeply afraid because I can’t feel it anymore. My mother explains that the numbness is an effect of the Lidocain, and is actually what it is supposed to do. I don’t recall the Lidocain working at all while I was getting stitched up.

It is five minutes after the last stitch has been sewn, and after I have blacked out. The Lidocain just kicked in.

I am released from the hospital, and my mother is driving me home. She is overwhelmingly relieved that her son is okay. I preoccupy myself with tapping my numbed wrist because I can’t feel it.

It is two and a half hours ago. The lone shard is flying through the air while an eerie, instantaneous glow is being cast. It is peaceful and clear, and I love the feeling of dawning realization.

It is the next day. My classmates are having a good, hearty laugh about my horrifying story.

Laughter. Like it’s a joke.

Eight year old boy is chasing his sister. His hand goes through plate glass. He is terrified and screaming in agonizing pain.

Roll on snare drum.

Audience laughs.

Hilarious.
I stop looking at my hand.





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This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

John_Robertson said...
Apr. 22, 2010 at 12:47 pm
This is one of the most powerful pieces I've read in a very long time. Please keep writing
 
joseph1 said...
Feb. 22, 2010 at 4:19 pm
Wow you're a fantastic writer! Your writing is so incredibly powerful... it really has meaning. I loved the "I'm only eight. I shouldn't need drugs." line. It was amazingly deep
 
run_man1 said...
Feb. 22, 2010 at 2:25 pm
This piece was really awesome. I thought the time skips were a fantastic way to make it interesting. Very Powerful!
 
elpemmy said...
Feb. 19, 2010 at 5:10 pm
That was... amazing. Wow. It's very, very poignant, and the time skips just make it moreso, somehow. The particular use of the word slithers, at the beginning, really sticks out. (in a good way.)
 
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