I fell again. On my knees. Managed to get up. Did not feel any pain. Just getting back into a respectable position seemed more important. Next day, the ache began. Like a vulture waiting to pounce. Both the knees had bumps, rounded, curved, like clay on a potter's wheel. I did nothing. Applied nothing. Covered it with nothing. I just watched it, transfixed by the sight. Looking at it seemed to lessen the pain.
I could not bend or even sit in certain ways. Then, the other day, I felt a stinging sensation on my big toe. I could not see what was wrong, so I ran my finger over it. The nail had been sliced into right at the cuticle. One wrong move, one piece of thread, a stray movement and the whole nail would come off.
It had taken two days to register, and nothing had happened, so perhaps it was safe. Instead of visiting a doctor, I went to the salon and got a pedicure. The pedicurist looked at it quite awestruck. "Never seen anything like this before." I told him to be gentle. Don't touch that part. He found it irresistible and would reach out to it, then look at me and ask, "How?"
Could I tell him I fell off the bed, on my knees, and did not know what my toe had hit? I wanted to make up a story, of how this precious heirloom vase fell from the mantelpiece, or a shard of glass from a Belgian mirror, perhaps a champagne flute slipped from my hand and cut through, and the toe became so drunk it just forgot that it was hurt, and it could be completely shorn of a nail, and look like a baby's bottom?
"How?" he asked again as the soapy warm water covered it. It was as though he was at a funeral or a zoo.
"I kicked a ball," I said.
"What? You play football?"
"No. I kicked a crystal ball."
"What is that?"
"It tells you the future."
I wish he had continued. I would tell him about why I kicked the crystal ball. How I did not want to know about the future. But then the future was a nail that would break from its roots.
After he had performed the ritual, he asked, "Polish?"
"The usual. Silver."
My toe is now covered with tinsel. The nail will grow and replace this slashed part, unless something gets stuck in it. I bandaged it for one day, but it hurt even more. The knees pain a lot. I bend to touch my toe and can't. They are like two people joined together in pain, but who cannot reach out to each other.
Where is that crystal ball?
(c) Farzana Versey