by Mark Tulin
When Jay, a carpenter, lost his three fingers during a power saw accident in his workshop, he blamed himself. “How could I be so stupid? I knew I was getting tired. I should have rested for a while.”
For months, he chastised himself and looked at his right hand in disbelief. He’d get depressed when he remembered having his digits intact, his nails perfectly cut, fully able to grip his set of power tools. He never thought that he’d have trouble doing simple jobs with only a thumb and pinky to balance a plank of wood.
“What’s wrong?” his wife asked, seeing him crying.
“I’m afraid of it happening again,” he replied.
“I’m sure that you learned your lesson, Jay. You’ll never conquer your fears if you keep blaming yourself for an innocent mistake.”
After many years, Jay rarely thinks about the accident. It’s as if he views his two-finger right hand as nothing out of the ordinary. Jay does things that he did before the accident, using a power saw or hammering nails into a two-by-four without much concern. Once he let go of his fear, he began to experience his hand as being whole, the missing digits becoming ghost fingers, seeing himself as a complete man again.
Mark Tulin’s books include Magical Yogis, Awkward Grace, The Asthmatic Kid and Other Stories. His work has appeared in Amethyst Review, Strands Publishers, Fiction on the Web, Terror House Magazine, Beatnik Cowboy, Ariel Chart, Dreams in Fiction, Still Point Journal, The Writing Disorder, and others. Mark is a retired psychotherapist who lives in Ventura, California. He can be found at https://crowonthewire.com/