By Nick Hoobin
When I was a child I got the bright idea of cutting open a sandwich bag with a pair of scissors. I forget the reason why—perhaps it was an adolescent attempt at arts and crafts. I even wrote my name on the bag in permanent marker, as if to take ownership over the dumb idea. I neatly laid the bag on the floor and stuck my hand under it to hold it in place. With my other hand I opened the scissors and thrust the blades into the plastic.
Searing, throbbing pain emanated from my left pointer finger. Blood burst from the wound. I ran to get a tissue and held the cut tight. There were no tears coming from my eyes as I pressed and waited in silence. I was more ashamed of my failed craft project than I was afraid of the wound. After the bleeding subsided I grabbed a bandage to cover up my mistake. I told no one.
I developed a peculiar habit in the following days. When no one was looking I’d sneak into a corner, remove the bandage, and pull the gash apart. I gazed into the wound as the bright smile of bone-flanked-by-muscle looked right back. I thought that if I pulled hard enough my finger would split in two, the halves growing into their own whole.
The ritual of pulling open the cut continued for weeks. Further and further I’d pull it open, even as the stinging pain would get worse. One day it was not bone-flanked-by-muscle that stared back at me—it was a starry sky. Intrigued, I pulled harder than usual—wincing at the pain as the cut opened wider. The night sky gushed from my finger and flowed to the floor. Harder I pulled until the entire room was engulfed in the silent, stippled vacuum. The floor gave out and I fell through the cosmos. I told no one about the cut, and I never will. I’m lost—floating in this new, cold universe.