by Molly Tolsky
Megan is the most popular girl in school, with only nine fingers. I've known her since she had all ten--ice skating buddies since the second grade. I never liked her much before, but the accident only made it worse. It gave her the power: all she has to do is wave her stub, the bump on her hand where a pointer finger used to be, and instantly she gets whatever it is she wants. And she wants a lot.
When Megan points her stub at Marc in the cafeteria, it means she wants him to get her a coke. He'll stand up from the lunch table, stick both hands into the pockets of his jeans, pull the liner inside out, and shrug his shoulders. "No more money," he'll say. Megan will walk up to him, get really close, stare into his freckled face, and bring her right hand to her chin. Everyone at the table will see her fingers drum against her cheek as if brainstorming a resolution to this problem. And Marc will see it, the stub, like a little round shack where a sky-scraper should be, the only finger that doesn't have a perfectly polished pink fingernail, and I guarantee it, he can't look away. He'll start backing up slowly, never taking his eyes off the stub, mumble "I'll figure something out," and return in a minute and a half with a stolen cup of Diet Coke.
"Why'd you do it?" I'll ask him later.
"I don't know," he'll say. "Felt bad."
When she points her stub at Louise in math class, it means she wants the answers to the pop quiz. Louise will instantly grab hold of the little gold cross that hangs from the little gold chain around her neck, bite her lower lip, and shake her head. She has morals you know, and Megan knows this too, so she'll stare into Louise's eyes and bring her palms and fingers together. "Please," she'll whisper, and Louise will see it, the stub, the only digit that doesn't fit into Megan's lovely prayer position. The voice of her priest preaching the blessing of charity will slip into Louise's mind, and without taking her eyes off the stub, she'll slide her paper to the edge of her desk, tilt it towards Megan, and pray that Mrs. Wallace is too caught up in her romance novel to catch them cheating.
"Not you too, Louise," I'll say to her after class.
"Afraid so," she'll say. "Just felt so bad."
When she points her stub at me, though, it's a little harder to tell what she wants. I was there when it happened; I was on the rink. I saw her go for that axel, that jump that was way too advanced for her twiggy little legs. I saw her body spin in the air, looking like the Tasmanian Devil if he was into pink nylon dresses and tights, and I saw her body fall to the ice, hands first, then feet. And then nobody on the rink was quite sure what they saw. She wasn't crying but she wasn't moving. Then I spotted it, this thing on the ice. I skated up to it and did a hockey stop, showering the thing with white ice shavings like a miniature snow storm. I crouched down to see it better and then looked over to Megan. The ice around her was turning pink, and I thought for a second that she had planned this accident because she looked so good, lying on the pink ice in her pink dress and blonde hair but then I realized the pink was blood and the thing was a finger and Megan was unconscious.
She points her stub at me when we're in big groups. When all the kids are crowded around her, asking about the accident. When they're wondering what the hospital was like and what the blood transfusion was like and did Nancy Kerrigan really send you a get well soon card? She tells them about the moment her blade cut through her finger, how it wasn't like her life was flashing before her eyes but rather running through her veins. Everyone gathered around her says, "Cool," except for me. She just barely raises her arm and points her stub towards me and no one else notices it but the stub is all I see.
And I'm thinking it's a plea for me to be quiet, to not talk about what really happened on the rink. And I don't think I feel bad; I don't think I feel pity. What I feel is more like my own kind of power. The power to not tell everyone about the way her whole hand turned purple and not the pretty kind of purple. Or the way her eyes were crossed when the paramedics put her on the stretcher. Or the fact that the only thing cool about that day was the ice, the cool ice.
About the author:
Molly is currently studying fiction writing at Columbia College Chicago with plans to graduate in May. She is a co-editor of The Green Flash, a brand spanking new flash fiction zine. Her work has appeared in The2ndHand and Hair Trigger.