I should have known better. The knife was wickedly sharp. It was one of those Opinel knives. I’d bought it in France on a holiday. I was in my bedroom. The window-sill was lined with my collection of cactus plants. I was standing by my bed – I can remember the brown bedspread very clearly. It had a rough, sort of knotty texture.
Anyway, I had a piece of paper in one hand and the locked knife in the other. I wanted to see if the blade would slice through the paper cleanly. I brought the knife down fast, but I missed. Instead of the paper, I made contact with my left thumb. The blade cut almost as well as the lightsabre Luke Skywalker was holding in the poster on my bedroom wall (I was a big Star Wars fan). The top part of my thumb was hanging on by a little hinge of skin and blood was welling up fast.
I had to think quickly. I held the funny cone of skin in place (noticing with a kind of pleasure that the blade had chopped right through my thumbnail) and ran downstairs to my Mum. My mother was a nurse and then a midwife. She was pretty good in a crisis. I think we wrapped the thumb in a towel and got straight in the car. She drove as if we were on a landspeeder being pursued by Tuscan raiders and we were at the hospital in no time. I didn’t quite admit to how I’d done it – I think I just said it was an accident and retreated into silence.
I can’t remember how long we waited at A&E. Not long, anyway. The doctor decided the injury would not need stitches. he thought it would probably heal up, so he bandaged it and sent us on our way.
Days passed and we had to change the bandages. The tip of my thumb had gone white and hard and we snipped it off. More time passed and, almost miraculously, a new tender pink thumb-tip grew. The nail grew back. It was ridgy and misformed at first, but with the passing of months it straightened out. I remember my Mum said that this was an example of “second intentio” healing”. At the time, I didn’t really understand what that meant. I looked it up on Wikipedia and it said that it’s when there’s an open wound that is just left to heal. The new bit of thumb was a bit sore at times, and it certainly slowed me down when it came to building with Lego. Now, if you look closely, you can still see a scar there.
All in all, I think I was pretty lucky with that accident. And I certainly learned not to play with knives!