I knew it was broken by the way it looked rather than the way it felt.
I fed the dog. I got cleaned up and changed. I took the streetcar to the hospital. On the way there I lay my hand on my knee and watched the finger swell and darken as the distal joint leaned unnaturally to its right, as if looking for a place to rest.
I knew it was broken by the way they all looked at me, waiting for a wince or gasp as they pulled and prodded, examining the damage.
I shrugged. I could feel it — or not feel it in spots — but it wasn’t enough to make me react.
I knew it was broken by the gap in the x-ray, a slice of air where bone should be.
I knew it was broken by the words the surgeon said: the jargon, the instructions, the what-to-expect.
I knew it was broken by every single way of knowing except for the most predictable one of all: Physical pain.
I waited and waited for the bloom of shivers and spears to race through the finger and my hand, a physical narrative of injury. But pain’s scream remained silent.
And so it occurred to me to wonder if he ruined me for it — pain.
It occurred to me to wonder if this is the consequence of having let him burrow into the very centre of who I am only so he could knife his way out from the inside.
Because that was trauma. That was pain like I’ve never known. That was pain that cleaved my rib cage open and pulverized everything in its path. That was pain that pinned my breath inside my throat and laughed as it watched me struggle for air. That was pain that leaned in close and whispered in my ear just how thoroughly it was going to fuck me up.
And this? Well. This is an oblique fracture of the middle phalanx of the fourth finger on my left hand.
This is merely a broken bone.