It’s just a tiny splinter, lodged in my little finger. I take a needle from my sewing kit, put on my glasses, and break the skin around the small black spot in an effort to dig the splinter out.
Suddenly, the vision changes and I am back in my grandfather’s house. My father has bent me over his knee and is jabbing at the splinter in my thumb with a needle from my mother’s sewing kit.
“Hold still,” he pushes me down with the elbow of his left arm, then thrusts the needle again and again into the now bleeding spot on my thumb. “Hold still. Stop wriggling.”
“You’re hurting me.”
My mother comes into the room and inspects my thumb.
“Put your glasses on,” she tells my father. “At least you’ll be able to see what you’re doing.”
“Ow, ow!” I struggle with each piercing thrust of the needle but my father only holds me tighter.
Back in the present, I can hardly see this other splinter, let alone pull it out of my little pinky. I have broken the skin, so I place a band aid over the spot. Hopefully, the plaster will draw the splinter out, it usually does, quite painlessly. I put my sewing kit away and check my right thumb. My age-old splinter, still in there, winks its little black eye back at me from beneath the tear-filled eyelid of its tiny white scar.
We bear so many scars. Not all of them are visible.
Comment: So my granddaughter decided that she could polish up and improve my drawing notebook (top photo). And she did. Proof positive that a red pen in the hands of a young lady can work wonders. The thin red line of life, that link that joins us generation to generation, stretches back to times that only I can remember, stretches forward into times that I will never see. I wonder what my grandfather thought when he sat on his chair by the old Welsh fire and I climbed up, onto his knee. “Grandpa, tell me a story.” And he always did: “Once upon a time … there was a thin red line …” And look, there’s my grandfather’s old chair down in my basement in Island View, New Brunswick, Canada. It’s a long way from my grandfather’s old home in Swansea. Just think, I used to climb up on the back of that chair, while he was sleeping, and blow on the bald spot on the back of his head … one long thin red line of inherited mischief …