by Simon Pinkerton


My toe was a minor part of my life until it was a freaking horror show: a repulsive, scary metaphor; an independent agent, far away and pitiful, yet exigent. The faucet for a gushing bloodfall that taught me how things should be left well alone.

A sticky-out plantar had developed and I kept seeing it when I was legs-up watching the game, and I was on my own i.e. with nobody smarter to stop me from doing an abomination, and the game was dull and highly unlikely to produce anything but ennui and existentialist dread. So I went to the bathroom cabinet and chose some nail scissors, and I picked at the wart until it was sloping up like a sinking cruiser, then I wiggled at it, then I cut it off with the mighty elegant, sharp legs of the scissors. I couldn’t bear it being anywhere near my body anymore, and for a second, I was joyous, and both I and my toe were renewed, and I felt hope that I could make minor adjustments and things would get better.

But boy did it bleed, which took me by surprise as I thought the wart would have superseded the capillaries and whatnot, but evidently not, and I was like ‘shit’ but imagine that being said with a lot more presence and feeling and panic, and I ran for some kitchen roll and wrapped it around the toe, but it kept bleeding and I started to taste the blood somehow, and I got acutely worried that I would bleed all my blood out of my toe, or that it would never heal right and I would have to learn to walk again, or that my blood would get poisoned, and I felt as alone as any of those nihilists, and I wished that I had never seen the wart, as it wasn’t bothersome except to look at, but now it stung acutely and deep scarlet blood was seeping, sopping over my throw cushions.

I put my legs back up and tried to watch the rest of the game past it, pretending it hadn’t happened, ignoring the wound like the hum of the fridge, and I sat unseeing through the whole spectacle because I didn’t feel like I was up to anything else now, and by that I mean long-term just not capable. All the while blood oozed like lava from a Pacific volcano.

It stopped bleeding when it got bored of bleeding and had made its point, but by then I was drained and shook up. The tiny extremity asked integral, big questions.

I determined I should leave things well alone and not try to change things with my wife, and definitely I decided to stay with my wife despite my major doubts, because if I couldn’t trust myself not to self-mutilate, how could I be alone? I realized that capricious actions lead to bleeding, either physically or in terms of the authenticity and integrity of your person; oh and also worry, and I would rather be secure and didn’t want things to change no matter how bad they were getting. I wanted my intact foot back with the dumb gross blemish on it, and I wanted my life to continue the same way, even with the blemish of my infidelity with Juan, which I’m lucky was tucked-away safe like a body part you can wear a sock over and live with like nothing untoward has happened and nothing is about to unravel.

It didn’t stop my wife from leaving me, however. She came back home from her cross-stitching day or lacrosse day or whatever it was, looked at my poor, chastened form, my purple mess of a toe, and told me that despite what I thought was an amazing secret agent job, she knew about Juan, and had time to think at her Motocross rally day. I tried to beg a little and also I asked what Motocross was, and she said I shouldn’t have needed to, that if I wasn’t so caught up in the minutiae of myself I would know all about it. And she told me it was a form of off-road motorcycling, which is how she said she felt her life had gone, off-road, and she wanted to get back on track.

I asked, is there somebody else? A motorbike guy? And she replied, no, just that I was draining her, and it was a fair comment. I had a lot of insight into the concept after today. I pleaded with her to stay.

I don’t need you, she said.

But I need you, I said. Look at what I’ve done to myself. Look at all I can’t do for myself.




Simon Pinkerton is from London and writes fiction and humor for a lot of sweet mags, like Word Riot, Vanilla Sex Magazine, Entropy and Queen Mobs. Find him @simonpinkerton.