The Little Pinky
My husband Wes and I loved staying with our friends, Jeff and Nancy, at St. George Island. Since living together in college, Jeff and Wes had been best friends. Earlier that day, Papa D, Jeff’s father-in-law, had promised to take me and Jeff, the more adventuresome of the four, up in his plane for a quick flyover of the island, which I had never seen from the air. I can’t wait, I thought as I eagerly tossed our clothes into our suitcase in preparation for the drive home after the flight. Wes and Jeff pulled the boat out of the water.
Suddenly, Jeff yelled from downstairs. “Nancy, get down here!”
Nancy and I both raced out to the back porch to see Wes standing below us in front of the boat. One hand spurted blood as the trailer winch spun crazily through the air. Blood puddled at his feet.
Oh my God! I froze, watching helplessly.
Nancy, a licensed nurse, rushed downstairs and examined the wound. I remained about three steps behind her, unsure what to do. “We need to get you to a hospital,” she urged. “You need stitches.” Warm air caressed me, but I barely acknowledged it, stunned by the blood and the chaos.
I should help, I thought, but didn’t know what to do. Writing and teaching, my own specialties, wouldn’t help at this point, so I ran back into the house, grabbed a towel, and prayed, Please, let him be okay. He’s an artist. He needs his fingers.
Wes agreed with Nancy, staring skyward to avoid seeing the blood. All four of us loaded into Nancy’s Pathfinder for the five-mile drive to the small hospital one town over. “How you doing, Wes?” Nancy asked, ever the good nurse.
“I’m okay,” he responded, sounding calm, but I knew he was quietly freaking out. He only becomes silent when he is in pain or worried. I sat silently, wondering what would happen, how serious the wound was, how long it would take to heal, if it would interfere with my planned trip to India in two days. My thoughts jumped sporadically, swerving from deep concern to selfishness.
Finally, we reached the hospital, where Nancy dropped us off and went to the airport to tell her parents that Wes had nearly cut off his little pinky and that our flight was cancelled.
Because of all the blood, nurses took Wes back immediately for stitches. Jeff and I talked softly in between staring at the door and waiting for Wes. My joy over the flight, over the upcoming trip to India, over the leisurely weekend we had spent with Jeff and Nancy shattered on the waiting room floor as I pretended to be fine. Put up a brave front, I reminded myself.
Although time seemed to stretch indefinitely, Wes returned within thirty minutes with his hand bandaged. “I have fourteen stitches,” he said as he brandished his hand, suddenly brave.
The nurse reviewed care instructions with Wes and Jeff while I completed paperwork for the hospital and the insurance company.
“Well, thanks for ruining our flyover,” Jeff teased Wes.
I grumbled even more: “Helloooo! I’m leaving for India Tuesday. Were you trying to mess that up?”
“You’re still leaving?” Wes joked. “Don’t you need to stay home and nurse the invalid?” Suddenly, he slouched in his chair, a fake look of pain creasing his face. I giggled and hugged him, relieved he was back to normal.
Suddenly, Papa D burst through the entrance, his normally tanned skin blanched white. “Is Wes okay?” he demanded, then paused upon seeing Wes with his hand bandaged. Nancy and her mom followed him a few seconds later. Clearly confused, he stared at Wes for a long minute. “When Nancy said Wes nearly cut off his little pinky, well, I just thought . . .” Papa D stammered. His face reddened. “I thought she meant something else.” He smiled slowly. Then we understood his white face and mad dash. Wes’s face whitened a bit, but everyone else laughed.