portion of the artwork for Shelagh Power-Chopra's fiction

The Story of Little Suck-a-Thumb
Shelagh Power-Chopra

I lost my thumb as well. The good ol’ opposable thumb we tired humans are made to wear.

I cut my finger in the garden, digging for moles. The moles dig all night and never really get anywhere because they’re moles and don’t know where they’re going. I felt something sharp hit my thumb, must be a sliver of glass, I thought, and yanked my thumb out quickly.

Blood was everywhere, dripping on the dark soil, covering my spade, my shirts, and it soaked my palms, I was covered in a rainstorm of blood and you came out and said, I warned you that if you bothered the moles they would have their revenge. The cut itself came from a tiny sword wedged into my thumb. It was copper and had a leather handle.

The moles carry those for protection, he said. Their odd little teeth just don’t get the job done. I realized I had been digging for years, into paper, into our fortune, into our messes, digging these great pits in the backyard searching for China, searching for home. I sharpened the blades for them just last night, he said, but they swore it wouldn’t hurt. It was to be a warning. So it was you? Why is it always you who wrecks it?

When I came home from the hospital I had no thumb and felt like a cartoon character, a rogue who wore white gloves and scared the children. Menial tasks proved futile and I simply started digging with the other hand. Peter was sassy and sighed and said the moles will be at you again but I dug and dug and discovered remnants of clothing, bits of yarns, love letters, and an old toaster.

Is that the toaster you and Bette owned together? She burnt so much toast in that toaster, it ruined our Sundays, turned Mondays ugly, and the Fridays were simply passive. I unearthed a stocking. That’s Ruth’s, she was sexy but maternal and I always hated her for switching roles so easily, Peter said, and then finally I gave up.

The soil was heavy and slow and the rains came and I dove inside as if the air inside the house were water. I like you thumbless, he said, it brings out the awkwardness, the clumsy artist in his atelier always mixing yarns and painting nothing. So to say, I like you still.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 34 | Fall 2011