My body aches. Lying in the cot by the stove and the throbbing in my limbs like I’m just now thawing out. An itch on my right foot and I wiggle the toes that aren’t there and remember there are no toes there and they’ve taken the three fingers from my right hand too. These don’t hurt. The foot and the hand don’t hurt, not yet. But the ear they have also taken will not stop with ringing so loud and precise I think to grab an ember from the stove to burn the wound shut and silence it. But I don’t. I am a funny man, so I laugh to myself by the stove in the dark.
I was bits and pieces before all of this happened. Before I left for the lake and said my farewell to the camp. Had they skinned me at the hospital it wouldn’t have made a difference. I am still wholly what I was before, which is bits and pieces and broken things.
My father was an unspeakable man and he did unspeakable things. My brother was the one to take action and collapsed my father’s skull with a stone as he was sliding under the covers of my bed and it was a shock to the neighbors. My father’s family knew he was unspeakable and distanced themselves from him and so distanced themselves from us, and my mother was no weapon against his evil so my brother brought that stone into the home and drove it down twice for us. The neighbors in dismay and me in my bed with the twitch from a body that used to be my father, that heaviness on my lips his blood.
My father’s brothers made amends by taking me for hunting and I would stand where they told me to stand even beyond when I thought they had left me and they would come and collect me and take me home, but I was part of the blood that had killed their brother, the bad brother, but their brother still.
Billy should have left me out there on the lake. I am wholly broken.