The Cut

The knife slid into the boy’s arm with surprising ease, and it was in that moment that he realized the true resilience of his flesh, and that it was none at all.

There was a moment before the blood erupted that he could see, with shocking clarity, the cloud-like formations of fatty tissue that lay between the skin and the gleaming white of the bone beneath. Years later, when working as a prep cook in a dingy restaurant, he would recognize this as a common scene when splitting chicken legs for the grill. The blood welled, coating the yellow walls of the wound with sticky crimson, then issued forth in a literal gusher. Perhaps the actual amount discharged was not as serious as his screaming mind made it out to be, but then his mind was bent on magnifying the self-inflicted damage to fill the whole extent of his reality.

There was pain, a scratched and scraped feeling that came from inside his arm, and then shock kicked him square in the throat and left him with a numb distance that hid all sensation, save for a sudden dire thirst. He wanted to shout, to call for help, but all he could muster was a rasping croak. He stood bolt upright out of his seat, like a robot coming to attention, and walked out of the kitchen to the living room, his spouting arm held stiff in front of him. His father had been watching a hockey game, and catching a glimpse of his son he knew at once that something had gone terribly wrong. He leapt up, throwing off his younger son who’d been lounging on his legs, and bounded across the wide room in three wide strides. Then one of his strong hands clamped over the wound and he dragged the injured boy to the bathroom.

The father, at that time, had been a man of the sea, and had acquired many of the odds and ends that a seaman might. Among these was a good-sized cache of emergency medical supplies. It was into this box of materials that he dove with his free hand and retrieved a brown paper package marked “chest trauma dressing”. He tore it open with his teeth and a pillow of white gauze blossomed. He unfolded it and wrapped it around his son’s arm, then gripped the bandage with the strength of a tightened vice.

The boy was certain that he was dying. His vision filled with yellow hatching and a deep, deep vignette that threatened to swallow all the light. He wanted a drink of water more than anything. He managed to hold on to consciousness throughout the entire ordeal, however, and he remembered the EMTs loading him into an ambulance and taking him to the hospital. The process of closing the wound, with its injections of local anesthetic and some seventeen sutures, had been more painful than the initial cut, and he had screamed the whole while, clutching a nurse’s hand in a tiny, white-knuckled fist.

The wound didn’t heal very well at all and left an ugly scar.

2015.01.25 – 2023.08.22

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