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The car bumps through the country road as I sit holding my toe in the Starbucks napkin. My husband drives. My two kids sit in the backseat looking at a meme or a snapchat or a quick-time or… I don’t know… something that makes them laugh on their phones. Little do they know I am close to dying in the front seat… right now… in the front seat… I think…

It Was A Beautiful Day

Sunny. Warm. Breezy. We had walked through the almost too-picturesque beach path that gently swooped and opened up into a marshy glade. There, the ocean water rushed in. The transition between the high and low tides. Sand crabs. Small fish. Oyster fishers… is that what you call them? The guys that fish or collect or grab oysters… I don’t know what they’re doing… I’m not from these parts. But you get the idea. It was idyllic. Magic time. The four of us and laughing and strolling and tiny warm waves. Perfect.

Oh No!

Then a sharp, weird pain in my toe. My big toe, not some unnecessary toe, not some tiny end toe… the BIG one. The ruler toe. The leader toe. I’ve cut my big toe on a shell. Damn shells. God. What are they doing here? Just open… lying there ready to get stepped on in the sand. Damn them. It’s bleeding. My main big toe is really really bleeding. I limp to the edge of the sand. I think I need a tourniquet. Maybe the Oyster fishers have something for emergencies… they are too far away. Those stupid fishers. Damn them too.
I call to my family. HELP! I need help! It won’t stop bleeding. I show my concerned family my big toe and the huge gash and all the blood on the sand. They look at it. My daughter takes my hand. My son squats down to get close to the meat of it. My husband finds an old Starbucks napkin in his cargo pants. Pause. They are really taking it in. Deep breaths all around. “What do you think we should do?” I ask in my most stoic brave voice. Hospital? Emergency care? 911? They decide they want softie ice cream cones at Captain Crusty’s. Really? Softie cones? I’m shocked… but I think I’m also dizzy… I’ve lost a LOT of blood… I just don’t have the strength to argue. I feel myself fading away. We trudge through that stupidly long beach path. I get sand in my cut. I feel the sand way up in the gash. Deep. The sand is really deep like up in my knee almost it feels like… It may have to come to an amputation. I brace myself for having a future with no big toe. Wait! What if they have to amputate more than just the toe? Like my foot, or leg… OH NO! I won’t be able to drive. I won’t be able to wear sandals! How will I dance with my son when he gets married with one leg?
My husband finds some old water in the car and he washes out the cut. Blood, sand, water run down my leg.

I May Be Dying.

We start to drive and I realize that the water in the plastic bottle, the water that washed out the cut is really old and cloudy. CLOUDY? It’s germs. Big germs. That is what the cloudiness is. Oh man. I have poured germs into my foot. I remember reading about a flesh eating disease that just eats you from the inside out. I probably just poured that disease into myself. WHY?!?! Why am I so stupid? Why doesn’t my husband clean his car? I can feel it eating me alive. I quickly google “germs and cuts” on my phone. I can’t even look at all the horrible sites that come up. I can’t believe it. I feel sick. What have I done? I’m so young… I have so much to live for.
My husband switches on the car radio. The three of them are now singing.
They’ re singing and I’m getting really, really sick with bacteria eating me. I won’t be able to work. I mean how can I work if I’m limping and pale and really sick? We are going to lose our house. That is definite. We won’t be able to pay the bills. We lose our house. I LOVE my house. But it’s gone and my son has to switch schools and everyone hates him because I’m so sick and he’s depressed. My poor kids. I’m a terrible, terrible mom.
Wait! Maybe I’m NOT sick… Maybe I’m DYING. I will probably die in a few hours and then what for them? They will probably never be able to go back to the beach, or see sand, or eat oysters… it will all be too painful. They are so sweet. The three of them. They will probably not make it. How will they get through the pain of losing me? Me? Wonderful mom, wife… I can barely breath. I am so upset that I have so abruptly ended their futures. Oh no! What if it is so crushing they become homeless? Where would they live? NOWHERE! They are homeless! My kids are homeless! What about their dad!? What happened to him??!?! He wandered off weeping after Captain Crusty’s!!! The trees fly past the window in a blur. OH! THE AGONY!!! OH!!! NO!!!! WHAT HAVE I DONE!! ALL IS RUINED…I BEG FOR THE AMPUTATION! PLEASE- OH PLEASE—

“How’s Your Foot Mom?”

“What?” CAN’T THEY SEE I’M DEAD?!?!
“Your foot…?”
Oh. I pull myself out of my wired, confused, crazy brain thoughts. Pull myself back to the land of the living. Tunnel my way back to the land of now…
“Is it OK?”
Oh. Ummm. I gingerly pull back the Starbucks napkin. I hold my breath, afraid I will fall off into the abyss again… I stare at the cut. The Cut. I see… it’s more of a scrape, really, now, in the sunlight, I see it’s a scrape on my big toe. My big, wrinkly, water-logged toe has a sort of scrape that you might miss in the right light on it. Huh.
“That looks good, honey.” My husband takes my hand.
I’m back. Wow. Where was I? Where did I go? I was homeless with one leg being eaten by bacteria and then dead. But really… the truth is that it’s a beautiful sunny day. I’m with my favorite people. Right now is the moment that counts. Right now is the place where I can sit in peace. Right Now I AM Right Here. When IT brings you to your knees – STOP – look around, get back into your body, I want to remember that… but… instead I think… this softie cone is delicious…

Alison Martin

Alison Martin -- wife, mom, Emmy-award winning actress, writer, chocoholic. Bronx Italian, daughter of Pultizer Prize winning reporters, who also identifies as L.A. Irish. Shout outs: Dan, Emilia, Brady, pooches - LuLu & Ted, friends, Mother Earth, serendipity, peace, VIPHS, Boldfaced Secret, living life like your socks feel real good.

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