Books Magazine

"What If I Lost My Fingers?" By Shaun Allan

Posted on the 18 January 2012 by Alexxmomcat @MomCat_Reviews
I had a sore on my finger today.
Well not a sore - that gives the impression of a festering boil leaking obnoxious fluid that fizzes as it hits the table, leaving a blackened stain when evaporated.  But there is an area that's causing me pain.  I'm trying to track it down, but it keeps moving when I look.
If I'm not looking, it hurts in about the same place on my finger (the underside near the middle crease).  If I look and try to find it by rubbing, I can't seem to pin-point the actual place that's niggling me.  It's as if the pain is hiding away, waiting for my attention to be diverted so it can prick me again.  There's no mark or cut, so I don't know what's causing it.
But what if?
What if there was something under there, feeding on my subcutaneous flesh?  Eating away at me?  Gnawing at my fingers until there's nothing left?
What if I actually lost my fingers?
How would I write?
You hear that David Beckham's legs are insured for millions.  Jennifer Lopez's buttocks.  Bette Grable's voice.  Egon Ronay's taste buds.  Tom Jones' chest hair.  Dolly Parton's chest.
I've got about ten pounds and some shrapnel in my pocket.  Possibly not quite enough to worry about, but the loss of my fingers would... be devastating.  The words would have no outlet.  The characters would be spinning about in my head, vying for a voice, until I ended up next to Sin - or in place of my anti-hero - in the asylum.
I used to teach adult education.  One of the students couldn't use her left hand so she had this mouse-like thing with five buttons that she could rest her hand on.  Different combinations of button presses meant she could type what she wanted to say.  And she could do it faster than I could with a full keyboard!
There's dictation, of course.  I could sit with someone and let the characters and the ideas leap the gap between them and I, but I feel sure that they would stall.  The characters would look at the leap and back away for fear of falling midway.  The ideas would spin out into the air in the hope that they could reach the other side, but they'd risk falling short, not being fully realised.
Perhaps I could don a microphone and headset and speak to my PC like Kirk to the ship's computer.  Speech recognition is evolving quickly, but I know, from trying to dictate a text to my Android phone, that it's still a long way from Pacino's S1mone.  Apple have brought out their Siri system and, if you believe the adverts, it will tell your partner you love them whilst setting a reminder for you to buy her those anniversary flowers.  Maybe that's advanced enough to understand me and my wafflings and can help me to create worlds and ways and spin the tales.
But still.  It's not PHYSICAL.  There's no actual contact between me and my outlet.  I need that, I think.  As if Sin, Beryl, Puddlebrain and the others all run along my arms to jump about on the keys.  If I had to dictate it, it would be me, myself, that was lost in translation.
So.  I have a non-pustulating soreness on my finger.  Let's hope it goes, eh?
Awriter of many prize winning short stories and poems, Shaun Allan haswritten for more years than he would perhaps care to remember. Havingonce run an online poetry and prose magazine, he has appeared on Skytelevision to debate, against a major literary agent, the pros andcons of internet publishing as opposed to the more traditionalmethod. Many of his personal experiences and memories are woven intoSin’s point of view and sense of humor although he can’t, atthis point, teleport.
Shaunlives with his one partner, two daughters, three cats and four fish!
Blurb: SINDead,dead, dead.  Say it enough times and it becomes just anotherword.
Whatwould you do? Could you kill a killer? Does the death of one appeasethe deaths of a hundred? What about that hundred against a thousand?
Whatif you had no choice?
MeetSin. No, not that sort of sin, but Sin, crazy as a loon (you askSister Moon), and proud of it. Sin locks himself away in an asylumand, every so often, gets violent. That’s only so they’ll givehim those nice drugs, though. The ones that help him forget.
It’sa pity they don’t work.
Sin,you see, has a serious problem. Well, it’s not so much his problem,as ours – yours, mine and everyone else’s. People die aroundSin.  He doesn't like it and there's nothing he can do aboutit.  But someone else knows, and Sin has to stop them... andhimself...
Flipand catch...
Excerpt:Therewere no sounds from the kitchen.  There wouldn't be.  Sarahwas sitting in her chair, holding her coffee.  She wasn'tnoticing the heat was burning her hand.  Martin was holding theuseless phone in his hand.  He was staring out of the kitchenwindow, possibly at the spot where the famous hill had once been.
Ipicked up his keys from the hall table where he'd left them andwalked out of the front door.  I didn't hear the flames start tolick the wall behind the cooker, but I knew they were.  I didn'tsmell the smoke curling along the hallway but yes, I knew it was.
Perhapsit was following me.  Perhaps it was saying goodbye. Perhaps the smoke was reaching out to grab me back, so I could enjoythe same fate that I'd handed to poor Sarah and her wonderful rapisthusband.
He'dengineered their relationship.  Bumping into her so she'd spillher drink on him only days after her discharge.  The old wayswere the best.  He knew her history.  He could besympathetic.  Was he a monster for doing so?  Needing to beso much in control raping her wasn't enough - he had to dominate herentire life?
No. That wasn't it.  Yes, for the rape he was a beast.  But therest?  It was his reparation.  His repentance.  Tocare and to provide for the woman who he'd torn apart.  To helpmend the wounds, even though she didn't know he was the one whowounded her.  It was his purgatory to be reminded each moment ofeach day of the vile act he'd inflicted upon her.
Didthat forgive him?  Did that make amends for his actions? Did that make him a good guy?  A saviour?  Beast becomeBeauty?  Was I defending him in an attempt to defend myself? WAS there a defence, or did one's actions taint one's soul for therest of one's sorry life?
Askme another.  Anyway it wasn't Martin's past conduct that haddamned him, it was his current.  I wasn't going to let him handme over.  I wasn't going to let the good doctor get his greasyhands on me again.  The drugs don't work, the Verve once said. Doctor Connors didn't give a flying flip about that.  How Sarahhad managed to escape his clutches I don't know.  Perhaps thatwas down to Martin too.  History, and my inner voices, didn'trelate.  All hail the laydee.
Ihad to stop them.  I had to.  But by killing them? Could I not have talked to them?  Reasoned maybe?  Lookguys.  I'm not that bad.  I'm not crazy.  True, I canteleport and kill people with my mind, but I'm not insane. Honest!
Whatwould I have said?  Hardly the truth.  They would have beenon the phone quicker than a rabbit out of a fox hole, with Connors asthe fox and me as the gory remains of the cute little bunny.
Ihave a tattoo of a fox on my upper right arm.  It's a symbol, tome, of freedom.  But the doctor is the dark side of the fox. Vulpine instincts drive him.  Why kill the chicken for lunchwhen you can slaughter the whole coup?
I'dtaken three steps towards the dirt-washed van when I heard it. I might have missed the sound at any other time.  Would have infact. But around me all had become suddenly hushed.  Mr.Bluebird on my shoulder, or at least the crows in the fields and thelight buzz of insects had been muted as if by a great remotecontrol.  In space only Sigourney Weaver can hear you scream. Her Majesty the alien queen could have been standing behind me and Iwouldn't have heard her.  The sound had been sucked from theworld like lemonade through a straw till not a drop remained. Were the fauna in the flora biting their collective tongues inprotest at what I'd done?  Did it resent me causing the firethat would soon consume this house and all who sailed in her? Perhaps.  The silence echoed around me, non-existent whisperscrawling up my spine.  Not a whistle or a rustle or a caw. Not even the crackle of a flame.
Frominside the house.
Thespell was broken - the hex halted.  The sound rushed back intothe air like the seal on a vacuum suddenly fractured.  Crowsyelled from the trees at me.  A bee had given up on bumbling andwas spinning around my head in a crazed dervish.  A buzzing haderupted from around me as if the ground itself was vibrating.
Everythingwas screaming at me.  THE BABY.
Icould tell myself - fool myself if that's what you want to call it -that Martin and the boy deserved their fates.  In fact I maywell have been Fate's own personal gopher, doing the job's he, orshe, hated.  Why would Fate get his hands dirty when I had aperfectly good pair to sully?
Actually,I always thought of Fate as a woman.  Definite female tendenciesthere, don't you think?
Iturned and I ran.  The front door had been drifting shut, afeeble attempt to bar my way.  I crashed it open and took thestairs three at a time.  I didn't need to think about which doorto open, my hand took the handle, turned and pushed.
Thenursery was decorated in yellow and Pooh was dancing across the wallswith Piglet and Eeyore.  And in a wooden cot (all the better togo up in flames for you, my dear) just inside the door was the baby. She had her mother's eyes and had stopped crying as soon as Ientered.  I took her up in my arms and was back out the frontdoor before I'd taken another breath.
Istood trembling for the longest time, still not breathing.  Ididn't deserve a breath.  The girl, doe eyed and pinkromper-suited, looked up at me and...
Cooed. Then smiled.
Hername was Morgan.  Morgan Alexandria to be precise.  And shehad just forgiven me.
Asilver mercedes was parked to one side.  A car seat was inposition behind the driver's.  The car unlocked as I approachedand I gently fastened Morgan into her chair.
Iwalked as calmly as I could back to Martin's van and climbed in. As I drove away the couple in the kitchen slowly stood and left thehouse, collecting the keys to the mercedes on the way.  Theflames in the kitchen died as they smiled at Morgan Alexandria andstarted the engine.  I turned left out of the gate, knowingthey'd turn right, and knowing that they were just going into town tobuy a few essentials.  Disposable nappies.  Toilet roll. You know the sort of thing.
Itwould be three days before they noticed the van missing. Probably a week or two before they decided to redecorate thekitchen.  It was looking tired.  Needed a face lift.
"Abit like me," Sarah would joke.
Theywouldn't see the scorch marks or the smoke damage.  And theywouldn't remember me.
Twomiles?  Three?  No more than that.  No more than threemiles before I had to stop, open the door and vomit my baconbreakfast onto the side of the road.
Shame,that.  I'd enjoyed it.
Thank you so much Shaun for coming. I look forward to hearing more from you!

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