3WW: hazard, cut, endangered
All you need to chop kindling is scrap wood, a hatchet, and a hard surface. I have done it many times without endangering anyone. Except once…
“Mom, m…m…ake a fire,” Thelma said through chattering teeth.
The stove, with its burned out coals, was as useless as an empty whisky bottle.
“Yeah, it’s freakin’ cold!” Sandy said, her breath forming icy clouds that hung over her head like speech balloons in a bad cartoon.
Freakin’? I ignored her remark with a staccato of orders. “Marie, get some kindling. Sandy, feed the dog. Thelma, open the Spaghetti Os.”
They scattered like mercury beads in a broken thermometer. I was about to take off my coat when I heard Marie yell, “Mom! The kindling box is empty!” This was an informative yell, not a panic yell. Mothers know the difference.
“I’ll chop some!”
“No! I wanna do it!”
“No, Mom! Let me!”
Unfortunately, the hatchet in any one of their hands could become a weapon of opportunity, a hazard; they’d threatened to kill each other once too often.
“Thanks, kids. But I’d better do it. It’s too cold out,” I said, going out the door.
The first pieces cut in four short whacks. Just a few more…and… I saw blood dripping on the ground. At first, I was confused. Where was the blood coming from? I looked up at the sky. Was it raining blood? Is the wood bleeding? My God! It’s me. My blood. My pinky!
“Mom! What happened?” Sandy asked, watching me run to the sink.
“Just a cut,” I said.
“Let me see.” She bobbed her head around my body as I tried to hide my stumpy and bloody pinky.
She performed a quick medical assessment. “Don’t worry, Mom. We’ll fix it. We’ll sew that piece right back on. Where is it?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “It must be outside.”
By now, the rest of the children were hovering. “Go and find it for me,” I said, shooing them away like flies on rotten meat.
Sandy returned with the ax, the tip of my finger still clinging to the blade. “Just stick it back on and hold it,” she instructed. “I’ll get some tape.”
“Tape? That’s not gonna work. Mom, let me sew it. I’ll get the needle and thread,” said Marie.
“Let me see what it needs first,” I told them. But they had already scattered to search for medical supplies. My hands shook as I took the tip off the blade. Phew! I’m okay, I told myself. It’s just a little slice. It slipped from my fingers and swirled down the drain.
“Here. I found some tape. Should we sew it first? I can do it. Thelma, hold the tape. Give me the needle and ….Mom? What happened?”
“It’s gone. Washed down the drain.”
Sandy’s shoulders dropped. Marie and Thelma started crying. I removed the blood-soaked rag and peeked at my pinky. It was half an inch shorter. I collapsed.
My husband came home to crying children, a cold house, and a bloody kitchen. After absorbing the shocking tableau, he bandaged my finger properly and made dinner. Without a word, he went outside and chopped a three-year supply of kindling.
The ax is still hidden away. So is that tender slice of ego that slid down the drain with the tip of my pinky…
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