Don’t Worry, It’ll Heal

Back in 2007, when I was blogging on Vox, the Question of the Day was, “How many bones have you broken? Yours or someone else’s?” I thought about that for a moment and started to laugh. I flexed my double-jointed fingers and typed my answer:

None. But back in Third Grade, I did reduce the class bully to tears by telling him he’d broken my finger back in First Grade. See, I’m “double jointed.” No, that doesn’t mean I can roll two joints with one hand, or be in two seedy dives at once. It means I have loose, overly flexible ligaments. In grade school, I could bend my index fingers backwards almost 90 degrees at the middle joint. Like this:

Only…more. Anyway, back in First Grade, Wes had grabbed my finger and pulled it backwards, towards my wrist, making me howl in pain. He and his friends thought it hilarious. I decided, then and there, that boys were mean. By Third Grade, we were all in for a lesson.

Wes saw my funny, flexible finger one day. He’d forgotten all about me and all about tormenting me in First Grade. I hadn’t forgotten – the memory of that wrenching pain and humiliation was still fresh in my mind. “How do you do that?” he asked, staring at my rubbery finger with a mixture of horror and fascination.

“Well, it’s not like I do it on purpose, Wesley,” I said, mustering a tone that was both dejected and scornful. “You remember back in First Grade, when you grabbed my finger and bent it backwards? You broke it, Wes.”

“I did?”

“Yes. And it never healed right. My family couldn’t afford the doctor’s bills, so my dad set it with an old pencil and some duct tape, but it healed crooked. See?” I held it up in front of Wesley’s nose.

He stared at my finger. He looked at me. He looked back at my finger. “I’m so sorry!” he wailed. And suddenly, there were big tears spilling down Wesley’s cheeks. Oh my G-d… Suddenly I knew what it was to bully the class bully, and I did not like it. You’d think I would enjoy the satisfaction of revenge, after all this time – making Wes cry right there in the middle of class, in front of his friends, making him suffer some of the guilt for some of the pain he’d caused me in First Grade, but I was the one who felt the full burden of guilt that day.

“Oh, forget it, Wes. My finger’s fine.” I showed him what I could do with the other nine fingers:

finger2Wes sniffled. “Wow. Cool.” He called some of his friends over. This was just gross enough that the boys found it fascinating. I was no longer just an icky girl.  I had weird talents they could respect and admire.

“I’m sorry, Wes.”

“For what?”

“For lying. For making you think you broke my finger.”

“Oh. Yeah, that was pretty mean,” he said, smiling. Like he wished he’d thought of it first. “I’m sorry I bent your finger backwards in First Grade.”

“Okay. I forgive you.”

HollyJahangiri

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; Innocents & Demons; and A New Leaf for Lyle. You can find her books on Amazon at http://amazon.com/author/hollyjahangiri. For more information on her children's books, please visit http://jahangiri.us/books.

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13 thoughts on “Don’t Worry, It’ll Heal”

  1. Haha – Is this what the phrase bending it like Beckham alludes to? Maybe not, my soccer parlance is highly suspect anyway. Great story. How I wish I had sat in your class to witness this firsthand. Your deft move to make your tormentor not lose face in class was outstanding. I couldn’t have done that – at least in this lifetime.

      1. A foolish enterprise, I know, to be consumed by revenge. But it’s not as if I were wearing a vest of explosives. Or two daggers for the both of us. More like a recognition that I could go down that dark road if I lose sight of what’s more important in our short life.

      2. It is, if only from the standpoint that your mental and physical well-being depend on your ability to let go of the need for revenge.

        Did you ever see the movie, “Crash”? I think it illustrates the point well. And yes, I think most of us (if we’re honest) have it in us to go down that dark road. But to what purpose, really?

        Not everyone is beyond redemption (Wes turned out to be a nice kid, and if he reads this and doesn’t seek his own revenge, he deserved my forgiveness! LOL) Those who are – I think living with themselves is the worst punishment in the long run. Our reward? We’re not them.
        HollyJahangiri recently posted…Consider the SourceMy Profile

  2. Wes and I got in trouble for fighting in Art Class one time. We were sent out in the hall (down in the basement by the cafeteria). Now we had a mutual enemy, the teacher, and we became friends. He actually was a nice kid. Thanks for the memories.

  3. Haha. Hi Holly. I do love a good personal anecdote like this one. Like you, I was bullied early on in school as well. But unfortunately I didn’t have the good fortune or opportunity to get my revenge the way you did. I can see where you would feel guilty about it though — two wrongs don’t make a right, as the saying goes. Thanks for sharing and keeping it real. Have a great day!

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