By Claire Riley
Author’s Note: Gore and Disturbing Scenes Warning! Please stop reading if you are squeamish or bothered by such things. If you aren’t, then read on!!!!
“Dad, I can’t, please don’t make me, I don’t want to.” His daughter was sitting cross-legged in front of him, her hair matted with sweaty sand, her clothes ragged, bare-foot, sunburned and sobbing like an exhausted, overtired child.
“Honey, you have to. If you don’t, it will spread, and I will die. The circulation is cut off; I won’t be able to feel anything. I promise.” He had fashioned a tourniquet near his left shoulder, but she had no idea that it was not impeding his circulation at all.
She was only 12 years old, and such a slight little girl, but the seven days since they washed up here had shown him what incredible strength she had within her.
He was sitting on a palm tree stump that was next to an outcropping of rock that suited the operation perfectly. There was a flat 2×2 foot piece of granite jutting out of that outcropping. It was almost as if it was placed there millions of years ago awaiting the day it would be needed to save his life.
He pressed his back against the rock wall and extended his left arm outward from the side of his body. His arm was lying flat, palm facing up and tricep down, parallel to the sand.
He positioned his elbow at the far edge, but not over it. The entire bottom of his left arm, under the elbow, was hovering with nothing beneath it but sand a few feet below. It was the hovering part that needed to go or they both would not be alive much longer.
His daughter had done most of the work moving the palm tree trunk into position. The gangrene eating away at the bottom of his left arm had weakened him so much at this point that he could barely stand. She also helped him get seated.
To his left, in the sand under his hovering left arm, was a large rock, which he had estimated weighed about 30 pounds, a steak knife and three books of matches bound together. For two days he had made her practice lifting the rock and slamming it to the ground with as much force as her tiny 12 year old body could muster. He couldn’t have her practice lighting the match books on fire, as they were all that he had, and he knew that three books might not be enough. He hadn’t told her how bad burning flesh smelled. If he had, he knew that she would never have gone through with it.
She was sobbing more deeply now. The past week had driven her slightly mad. She was sleep deprived, malnourished and dehydrated. Her vision had started to fail her.
“Baby, I have tried to make this easy for you. I showed you just where you need the rock to hit my lower arm.”
She was sobbing so deeply now, that her slumped shoulders were bobbing up and down as she cried.
She slowly composed herself and stood. She hugged him tight with her eyes closed and then she moved to his left.
Her crying suddenly stopped. Her eyes were suddenly sharp, predator-like. To him she looked like a wild beast on the African plain, cunning, and moving with absolute purpose as if her life was in the balance. In essence, both of their lives were.
At her young age she didn’t realize it, but she was experiencing the clinical condition called, “Emotional Detachment”. She was emotionally and psychologically detaching from the events that were about to take place at her hand. Of course she didn’t know there was a clinical term for this. She didn’t even know it was happening. She would come to learn that this is an evolved mechanism used by the mind to shield us from recalling and reliving the worst traumas.
She made sure her tools were in place.
Rock, steak knife, matches.
She took a deep breath and squatted down. Dad had taught her to never bend over to pick up a heavy object… “Use your legs, baby, they are the strongest muscles in your body. Many a back has been hurt picking up heavy objects the wrong way.”
She bent at her knees and put her hands under the rock and quickly lifted it and stood up. She moaned and grunted the way powerlifters do.
The rock was above her head now. Her stick-like arms were trembling.
She started to let the rock fall slowly, just as he had made her practice it, and quickly moved her hands from below the rock to its top and pulled down it with all of the strength her emaciated body could give.
The rock met her dad’s arm perfectly below the elbow. He would never tell her how he had lied about his circulation being cut off and how this would be a pain-free operation.
The gangrenous part of his arm, which a moment ago had seemed to be pointing at something in the distance, was now hanging limply, perfectly broken below the elbow just as he wanted.
She picked up the steak knife in her right hand and held his infected forearm in her left.
She pulled and moved his arm until she saw where the bone had broken and she began to saw through it.
She made no sound, even though she was continually sprayed with his blood as she cut through her father’s tissues. Her entire body was covered and dripping.
The amputated lower part of his left arm finally fell to the sand.
She picked up the match books and lit them afire. She held them up to his exposed gushing veins, just as he had instructed her.
He had told her that would be an attempt at cauterization. She would have no recollection of anything from the moment she lifted the rock above her head, including the smell of her father’s burning flesh. This was a blessing.
She was completely focused on the task at hand, her face stone-like, her eyes unblinking.
She held the burning match books against his flesh until the last sign of a flame.
The spent matchbooks fell from her hand.
All the while he watched his daughter with complete awe. She looked directly into his eyes for a moment, but he could tell that she was not seeing him at all. Her eyes rolled back in her head and she fell, almost in slow motion, to her left onto the sand. She slept for 24 hours, her eyes rarely closing.
He kept them alive until they were rescued nine months later.
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