My mother was a college student with five kids living at home, 1 in high school, 1 in middle school, 2 in elementary school, 1 in daycare, and a husband that worked full time. We had one car. The Oldsmobile.
Remember the Oldsmobile?
I will never know how my mother got all of us going in the morning. Just thinking about it is exhausting. I don’t even like getting myself ready in the morning.
One day, after school, my mom was taking my brother and I to pick up my younger sister from daycare. She was having a conversation with the one of the ladies that worked there and I was impatient to get home. I am not sure why. I doubt I had much going on at 8.
I asked her for a piece of gum and she said no. I began to mope around trying to get her to end her boring conversation. When my efforts at sympathy went unnoticed, I began pulling on her. Trying to make her stop talking and just leave already.
She was an immovable force. Eventually, tired of my harassment. She snapped at me and told me to go wait in the car.
I ran away, tears in my eyes. She was the meanest mother ever. She wouldn’t leave when I wanted her to. She wouldn’t give me gum. And then she yelled at me and humiliated me in front of all the grown ups.
I got to the car and saw my chance at revenge. I was the only one out there. I could get in and lock all the doors. Then when they came out I’d be the one to say when we left. I might even be able to blackmail a piece of gum out of it.
I laughed a devious laugh as I imagined the three of them, faces pressed to the window, begging to be let in. And I would sit there like a cold and distant queen. And tell them no.
I was so caught up in this plan that I didn’t realize my right hand was dangerously close to the hinges.
This was a big old boat of a car. It was made in the eighties. The doors were heavy, rusty, dirty steel. It had only been in the past few months that I was even able to slam it closed with one hand.
Basically, this unhygienic thing.
At first, I didn’t even realize something was wrong. The door was closed, and I felt a weird pinching in my right thumb.
I pulled my hand away. And saw my thumb. I must have been in shock. Because nothing was making any sense. Part of my thumb was gone. But it didn’t hurt. It was just gone. Like it had disappeared.
And then, it started gushing blood. Everywhere.
This is called a crushing injury. You probably shouldn’t do a Google image search of that like I did.
I wrapped my thumb in the skirt of my dress and held it tightly with my left hand. The pressure felt good. I didn’t realize I was doing the smart thing there.
I looked down and saw my brother’s back pack. It was hot, neon 80’s pink and one of his most favorite things. It was covered in blood.
Like this, only covered in blood instead of spray paint. That’s true hardcore.
I didn’t know what to do. I’d have to stop holding my thumb to get out of the car. And it hurt too bad to do that. I could see my mother inside through the window, still talking. She could talk for hours.
I don’t know how long I sat there. I just knew I was in trouble. I had ruined my dress and my brother’s back pack. There was blood everywhere. And part of my hand was gone. And I knew my mother was going to be pissed.
Eventually, my brother came out to see what I was doing. My mother had probably sent him. He took one look at all the blood and frantically began trying to open the car door. But I had locked all the doors.
I just sat there watching him. Staring into his eyes as he begged me to unlock the door so he could help me. I didn’t want to. I didn’t know what would happen next, once that door was unlocked I suspected a lot of things were going to happen.
We stayed like that as an eternity of seconds ticked by. I was in a lot of pain. I knew I needed to open the door. I was losing a lot of blood. I knew none of this was good.
I let go of my hand for long enough to pull up the lock. It was agony. He grabbed me and partially carried me back into the daycare.
There was a flurry of activity as people got paper towels to help soak up all the blood. My dress was soaked through and basically useless by that point.
I don’t know what happened to my brother and sister. The next thing I knew I was crying and sitting in my mother’s lap while someone drove us to the hospital.
My mother offered me a piece of gum to stop my crying. I actually laughed at that for a second. I knew she’d had gum! But it was too late to make any difference in my life anymore. Gum couldn’t save me. The days where a piece of gum was enough to make me happy were behind me now.
The next thing I knew I was waking up in the hospital. I was groggy and hungry and my thumb was throbbing. They hadn’t been able to find the other piece of my thumb, so they’d just stitched it up.
It took many months for the bandages and stitched to come off. I had to learn to write, eat, color, do everything with my left hand during that time.
They never found that piece of my thumb. We got rid of the car soon after that. I like to think my thumb tip was still haunting it for many happy years.
I have little to no feeling in the tip of my thumb, even now. I probably have permanent nerve damage. It isn’t an attractive finger. But, I am ambidextrous still. And I do have a pretty fucking cool fingerprint.
‘The talon’ as I like to refer to it.