Ask anyone who knew me when I was young and they’ll agree: I was an exceptionally happy child. I simply wasn’t burdened by negative thoughts. I’ve heard children go through a stage of fearing death, and that apparently it is quite common. I never did. I was excited for the future and happy about my past, though I'll admit that as a child I likely had no idea what either was.
Then a few things changed. For one, I lost my pinky. It was bitten off by a horse and could be another story entirely except for the fact that it’s really not. I think that ever since it was bitten off and eaten like a carrot I’ve been just a touch off balance. Pinkies are fairly useless, as far as fingers go. You don’t type with them, don’t need them to write, etc. Ten pinkies equal one thumb, as far as I’m concerned. But I won’t lie, the loss affected me. I would never be fully intact again. I kept on imagining my pinky floating through the horse’s digestive tract. I don’t remember, but I’m pretty sure the horse didn’t even swallow it. They aren’t carnivores, after all.
So it took me a while to get over the initial loss. I’m still not over it completely, but after two months things got a lot better. Sure, my pinky was still floating around in the ether, far away from my hand. But life has a wonderful way of surprising you, and it surprised me. After a month of volunteering at the humane society on doctor’s orders, I connected with a great little organization and became the head of it. Its mission was to unite abandoned kittens with infertile families for free.
Soon after, miraculously, and despite my missing pinky, a man fell in love with me. That’s what I’m going to call it, ok? I think it was love. He took me and my phantom pinky and for a while things were quite beautiful. We rode off into all sorts of sunsets together. There was no talk of forever, but I lived in the present and that was forever enough. Then he left me. I got over it, of course, although the feeling of losing him was remarkably similar to the feeling of losing my pinky. I don’t know why I liked him so much. Its obvious why I liked my pinky—I mean, it was a part of me since birth. But I had just let this man become a part of me. And I'd known him for what was really only a short time.
To console myself I tried to remember that these things happen in life, and after an ebb there is always a flow. Oh, I’m lying! I was broken to pieces. I thought I’d never get over him. In my mind losing my pinky was tangled up in losing him. I saw that he had never loved me, for who could love someone with a missing appendage? During our last argument, which fizzled out into a sad conversation (he had lost his passion for me, I now recognize), he asked what was so wrong with me that I behaved the way I did. You are missing nothing that you need to be happy, he told me, but you are always so sad. Thus the stand in for my pinky left my life.
When it was over I realized that the forever I’d been living was a very short forever indeed. And just the way that a pinky can be snapped off its hand, so, too, can memories be snapped off the trajectory of time. The memory of the man and the pinky floated on, always close enough to feel, never close enough to have again.
I’m recovering, but slowly. And honestly, I think he was right. I do have everything I need to be happy, I’ll just never be complete.