21st Century
The Future
World Travel
Books & Film
Original Fiction
Opinion & Lifestyle
Politics & Living
Film Space
Movies in depth
Kid's Books
Reviews & stories

The International Writers Magazine - Our 21st Year: Life Memories Archives

The Dangers of Daydreaming
Ann Sharratt

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. I’ve 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 don’t know what happened. I just ran up and swung on the gate. Karen was leaning on it. I didn’t realise her hand, her finger….’ I stammered.
‘Was in the gap?’ roared my father at me. ‘Didn’t you look? Wasn’t it obvious? She’s only three. You’re nearly ten. You were meant to be looking after her. And look what you’ve done’

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 father.
‘Peter, leave it for now. You go round to Eileen and Jack’s. 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 wasn‘t crying. I wasn’t 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 couldn’t look too closely.
‘Go and get a dress, coat and blanket for Karen’ Mum said firmly to me, ‘I don’t know how long we’ll be at the hospital’.
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.
‘Jack’s driving us and Eileen’s 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 didn’t say it because the arrangements had now been made that way. I could feel a black cloud of blame in our front room. Dad didn’t look at me. No longer the apple of his eye. He didn’t want me there. It was my fault that my sister‘s 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, ‘We’ll 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 won’t they? She’s my sister. I want to know that they’ll mend her finger.’
I didn’t cry until they left the house. Eileen put her arms around me,
‘She’ll be ok, love. They’ll be at the hospital in no time. It was an accident, love. You didn’t mean for it to happen. Your Dads cross because he’s in shock. He’ll be ok later. You’ll see.’

She could try to comfort me, but I knew. I knew that it was my doing. I’d 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.

Karen’s 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 MA - October 2009

More Comment


© Hackwriters 1999-2020 all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibility - no liability accepted by or affiliates.