Flash Fiction Challenge 100 – Day 48
“Hold still, you big baby, or I’ll spray it with alcohol,” Tammy says to me as she outlines my open wound with a sharpie marker. Her thinking, such that it is, is she can gauge if the infection is getting worse if it crosses the black line she’s drawing at the precise edge of my wound as it is now, Tuesday night. She has a deep maternal instinct, and I appreciate her efforts at keeping me from losing my foot. But I wonder if they aren’t overusing the ‘staff infection!’ cries. I feel shamed. To me, the wound appears to be doing fine! I got a thousand scabs growing up. This injury looks the same as those did. The difference, I guess, is I’m no longer growing up. I’m no longer on my upward climb to the midpoint of my life. I’ve peaked, and I’m already descending into that good night.
I stay still long enough for her to trace the semi-circular shape around my shin-jury. I wonder idly if the sharpie ink will poison me; if the boundary she’s drawing to gauge whether the infection is getting worse will, in an ironic twist, be what pushes me from life into death. Such morbid thoughts, I know, but I’m no longer a young man.
“You really should go see the doctor tomorrow,” Tammy says.
The idea leaves me listless, bored, and more than a little anxious.
She sees my lack of interest in obeying, so she repeats herself.
“Okay, mom!” I say to the woman who is almost four decades younger than me. “Sheesh!”
I have zero intention of seeing a doctor soon. I had about a billion scabs and scrapes while growing up. I don’t remember anyone shouting ‘staff infection’ during any of those episodes. Today, everyone is an expert.
Still, I thank her for drawing the marker and for insisting that I buy some hydrogen peroxide two days earlier, and for gently cleaning it for me. It’s probably a fine idea, encircling it with ink, to see if it is healing or getting steadily worse.
I give Tammy a twenty-dollar bill, so she and the other sales associates can order a pizza or buy some sandwiches. Cash tips were good today, and I like to take care of them that book my appointments! Besides, they see the worst face of our clientele. The clients are usually all sweet and rosy to us therapists, but those same people can be venomous, whiny, complaining cretins to the sales associates.
I say good night and head home.
‘It’s more frightening to imagine the prince of darkness as a handsome rogue, an attractive chap.’
Something wakes me in the middle of the night. I take a second to realize that I’ve scratched at the soft scabs in my sleep. The pus is on my fingers and smeared across my shin. It’s bleeding again. Damn!
I hobble over to my kitchen sink. I stick my entire foot in the deep basin and rinse off the wound the best I can. Then I douse it with a liberal quantity of peroxide. I have been rationing the tiny plastic package of antibiotic cream I swiped from the spa’s first aid kit on Sunday night. I squeeze a bit on my index finger and gently dab it onto the wound.
Content in my efforts to tend to the wound, I return to my bed. I put my glasses on to take a better look at it. My heart skips.
The ink line is no longer a distinct boundary between the inflamed redness of tissues and the rest of my uninjured skin. The ink has spread into a gradient, and the wound has reconfigured itself. When I look at it, I see a face.
It’s a popular idea that the devil (and demons) are hideous, vile-looking creatures. I think this is a silly notion. It’s more frightening to imagine the prince of darkness as a handsome rogue, an attractive chap.
When I consider the charming face that was once a horrible mess of scabs, pus, and redness, it seems almost to be smiling at me; I wonder if it’s not too late for a doctor. What I need now is a priest!