Pointing the Finger

A guest post by Kellie Meisl. Kellie is a writer, artist and teacher who uses her dreams as a springboard for her work. She teaches DreamArt Classes in her community of the Berkshires, in Massachusetts and can be reached at www.kelliemeisldreamart.com.

What happened to my finger, “the finger”, as it has come to be known to my friends, was such a rare event, it really warrants a story. It began when I was teaching an art class. We were finishing up a paper Mache project and doing some painting. The specifics are not nearly as interesting as what happened to the finger itself, but they probably require a little mentioning in the interest of laying out the story.

Artemis, 2009. Copyright Kellie Meisl.

So, I am teaching the art class. Things are finishing up and I am bustling around the kitchen of my home, where this class is taking place, washing paintbrushes and dabbing paper Mache paste from the floor. My son has just come in from school. I offer him Danish from a plate of airy, seemingly angel-spun delights we have been enjoying, when a class member suggests we warm it up for him; make the sugar “melty.” A few moments later, I hear my son say, “Mom, it’s so hot I can’t get it out of the toaster oven.” In my classic routine fashion, I whirl from the sink to the oven and grab it in one fell swoop, like it is a warm muffin. (My sister and I call this move where we go from cabinet, to appliance, to sink, and back to cabinet, in a single pivot-like movement, often while balancing on one foot, kitchen Thai-chi.)

What I did not realize in that moment is the nice “melty” sugar was now at about 250°. Later, of course, my mother’s words from the day we made candied apples, about how hot sugar could potentially cause a burn to the bone, did come back to me. I was only about 10, and my siblings 8, and 6 at the time, but she really made an impression with the bone part. The next day, my math whiz friend would give me the numbers: boiling water 212°, boiling sugar, “probably at least 250°.” And it was boiling; my son witnessed the sugary bubbles.

What followed was a scene with horror movie qualities. I rushed back to the sink feeling the searing pain and ran my hand under the cold water for a very long time; in fact I would have stayed there through the night if I could have. Immediately my skin on, thankfully, a single finger, looked as melted as the sugar on the Danish. It began to hang in a white flaccid pouch I can only describe as wet cheese cloth like, about an inch of it.

Still, I deemed this not too bad, since the pain had diminished by 50% quickly, until I saw the look on my son’s face and heard him say, “ER.” There are some details you don’t need, so let me segue to a few hours later. I will say this: I did not bother with the ER. Continue reading

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