International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Life Memories
Dangers of Daydreaming
The day I chopped my sisters finger off, I learned the harsh consequence
of not paying attention. My crime was being a dreamer. Of acting
on impulse without weighing up what might happen next. My shock
at seeing the bloody flesh, quickly turned to nausea. Ive
never been good with blood. So despite the ear splitting scream
coming from my three year old sisters mouth, her finger hanging
by a fleshy thread, I stood absolutely frozen to our driveway. I
stared in horror as my friend Alex, from across the road, tore into
our house to get my parents.
As my Mum, followed
quickly by my Dad, ran out of the side door and up the drive to reach
my hysterical sister, I found myself babbling an explanation.
I dont know what happened. I just ran up and swung on the
gate. Karen was leaning on it. I didnt realise her hand, her finger
Was in the gap? roared my father at me. Didnt
you look? Wasnt it obvious? Shes only three. Youre
nearly ten. You were meant to be looking after her. And look what youve
Mum was holding onto Karen, who was wailing like an injured animal.
Blood was dripping from her tiny hand onto our drive. Mum looked shaken
and cast a brief look of disappointment over at me but said nothing.
Instead she started to issue practical instructions at my glaring shaking
Peter, leave it for now. You go round to Eileen and Jacks.
Now. The cars in the drive. Jack can drive us to casualty. Go on. Quick!
Mum took Karen inside and I followed. I was now beginning to shake but
I wasnt crying. I wasnt supposed to be crying, Things were
bad enough without me starting. She sat Karen down, mopping up what
blood she could with a tea towel; I couldnt look too closely.
Go and get a dress, coat and blanket for Karen Mum said
firmly to me, I dont know how long well be at the
I ran upstairs and blindly grabbed all three. I was glad to be helping.
I needed to do something for Mum.
Dad then reappeared with our neighbours from two doors up.
Jacks driving us and Eileens offered to stay with
Ann he announced bleakly, striding around, taking his wallet from
the side board and his coat from a hook by the front door.
But I want to come too, I thought. I really want to come. But I didnt
say it because the arrangements had now been made that way. I could
feel a black cloud of blame in our front room. Dad didnt look
at me. No longer the apple of his eye. He didnt want me there.
It was my fault that my sisters finger was hanging off and my
punishment was to stay at home with Eileen from two doors up.
They all left in a big rush. Mum was carrying Karen, who was now whimpering.
Bye love she patted me with her free hand. All I got from
Dad was, Well see you later. Which felt like a bit
of a threat. I wanted to run after them and ask They will sew
it back on wont they? Shes my sister. I want to know that
theyll mend her finger.
I didnt cry until they left the house. Eileen put her arms around
Shell be ok, love. Theyll be at the hospital in no
time. It was an accident, love. You didnt mean for it to happen.
Your Dads cross because hes in shock. Hell be ok later.
She could try to comfort me, but I knew. I knew that it was my doing.
Id caused this accident. I looked at the clock on the mantelpiece.
I wanted to wind it back. My sister to have stopped bleeding and screaming
and be running around happily, skipping. She liked skipping. I wanted
this mixed up feeling of shame and responsibility to go away. For Mum
and Dad to be happy with me again. Like they were half an hour ago.
Karens finger returned home all sewn up, but my parents trust
in me took much longer to mend. This accident went down in family history
and grew in magnitude. I was eventually forgiven but it was never ever
forgotten. My parents were deeply disappointed in me. Every joking reference,
over the years, brought back that rush of shame.
My sister included the accident in her speech at my wedding. Warning
my new husband to be extra careful, she waved her third finger on her
right hand with its tiny circular scar at him. A constant reminder.
Daydreaming is dangerous.
© Ann Sharrat October 2009
ann.sharratt at ntlworld.com
Ann is studying
for her Masters in Creative Writing
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