10:15 am: My mother parks our black Mercury Monarch on Main Street. I am nine years old and sitting up front alongside my mother. My seven-year-old sister and three-year-old brother are sitting in the back. Nova Scotia didn’t pass seatbelt laws until 1985, so we were free to bounce around like fleas on a barnyard animal.
10:16 am: My mother leaves us in the car and goes into the bank. In those days no one was concerned about kidnapping because most towns were over-populated with little children. You were far more likely to return to a few extra kids and a basket of zucchini in your vehicle if you left it unlocked during errands.
10:17 am: It is summer in the Annapolis Valley, so it’s already about 4.7 million degrees out. I’m wearing adorable yellow shorts and a Holly Hobbie t-shirt which is clinging to me in the heat. I am a scrawny child. My legs are each about the width of a plastic straw which I’d give anything to have nowadays except straws aren’t politically correct.
10:18 am: I push my mother’s knitting bag aside so I can chat with my brother and sister. I turn and lean against the back of the bench seat so I can see them. We discuss the upcoming nuptials of the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer, the Hillside Strangler case, and the politics surrounding the end of the Iranian hostage crisis.
10:25 am: After some lively discourse on rationalism in neoclassical art, I peel myself from the leather seat and turn to face forward. I see a knitting needle sticking out of my thigh, but that doesn’t register until I try to remove it and realize that there is actually a goddamned knitting needle sticking out of my thigh.
10:26 am: I tell my siblings that there is a knitting needle stuck in my thigh.
10:27 am: My mother returns to the car to find her three children white as sheets, staring forward. It is very quiet.
10:27:10 am: My mother enjoys the quiet for about ten seconds before asking why we are being so weird.
10:27:19 am: I point at the knitting needle sticking out of my leg.
10:27:24 am: My mother joins us in silence and immediately starts the car so we can seek out assistance from home.
10:29 am: I feel decidedly ill. I begin to worry that I will get in trouble for having a knitting needle stuck in my leg. My mother has never yelled at me for getting injured in the past, but I know how much she likes her knitting needles.
10:31 am: We exit the car and carefully and make our way into the house. My mother leads me to the living room, directing me to rest on the couch with the knitting needle pointing skyward.
10:33 am: My mother calls the family physician and the receptionist puts her right through to the doctor, no matter that he’s with a patient. I guess things sticking out of legs gives you a pass.
10:34 am: The doctor knows my mother well. They worked together when she was a nurse, so he doesn’t feel she needs to bring me to the hospital. He tells her to DIY the situation and deal with my predicament from the comfort of home. He doesn’t say a word about how irresponsible it is for a nurse to let a child harpoon herself with a knitting needle.
10:36 am: The doctor tells my mother to place one of her hands firmly on my thigh so she can hold the muscle in place with the flat of her hand, while slowly pulling the knitting needle out with her other. (I guess he has forgotten that I don’t have any muscles.) They agree that it is most likely a puncture wound so there won’t be a violent unleashing of blood. My mother relays all of this information to me once she hangs up the phone.
10:41 am: I literally don’t care if any blood gets on the sofa, mother.
10:42 am: I am told there will be no anesthetic for the procedure. I will be conscious for the extraction. “Will you be able to save her leg?” my sister asks. “Yes,” my mother nods solemnly. “Yes, we can save it.”
10:43 am: I drink a 40-ouncer of whiskey and bite down on the dirty rag my mother has shoved into my mouth. My brother crouches by my head and tells me to squeeze his hand while my sister prepares to restrain my legs. Perspiration trickles down the bridge of my nose.
10:44 am: Using her hand like a tourniquet my mother begins the operation. “Don’t you die on me,” my sister beseeches from her post at the other end of the couch. “Don’t you die on me!”
10:45 am: I watch myself lying on the sofa from above, but can only see my legs. I am flooded with an overwhelming sensation of light and love. I see The Pope riding a miniature pony and a dead great-aunt that I’ve never met in person dancing with Julius Robert Oppenheimer. Then Jesus walks up to me and says, “Isn’t it just so sad about Buddy Holly?”
10:46 am: I feel the aluminum shaft slide out of my leg. My family comes into focus. I am undead.
10:47 am: A small adhesive dressing is applied to the shallow wound. Despite limited access to medical resources, my mother has successfully extracted the knit-stick from my limb.
10:48 am: Exhausted and extremely drunk, I sleep.
11:23 am: I wake and call my sister to my bedside. “Tell the others my story,” I say. “Tell them what happened here today.”
11:29 am: My mother tells me she will be making my favourite meal for dinner and puts a cool facecloth on my forehead.
5:43 pm: My father is home from work. “How you doin’?” he asks. “I’m okay,” I say, putting on a brave face. “Listen,” he says, “your mother’s wondering if you’re done with her knitting needle. She’d like to finish the cuff on that sweater.” I roll over and wonder if Julius Robert Oppenheimer had to put up with this sort of crap from his family.