Vanishing (excerpt)

Vanishing

I’m slipping away. Like Paul Simon sings, “you know the nearer your destination the more you’re slip-slidin’ away.” I lose a little of myself each day. I’ve heard the first thing to go as you age is your memory but mine is as good as ever. At present I’m more worried about my fingers. The first one I lost was my right pinky. As a right-handed guitar player, I always said if I had to lose a finger it should be that one. I never had much use for it. I could do all the finger picking I needed with my thumb and the other three fingers. That’s all I needed for 3/4 and 4/4 time signatures, that is, when I was still playing. Now the thought of playing makes me melancholy. So many sad memories of my youth are associated with the songs I played then and I don’t feel much like learning new songs. The death of my dad when I was a boy. Being beat up in a brutal way by two bully brothers soon thereafter. And much later, the sudden death of John Denver, the idol of my youth and the reason I took up the guitar. Even his happy songs of my younger days make me blue. But when I was playing I used all the fingers of my left hand, so to me it made sense to lose the right pinky first.

I’m not a diabetic. My doctor doesn’t know why my finger just detached itself one day. There was no blood. It just turned a sickly sepia color and one morning it was no longer part of me. I didn’t notice it until I showered. Running my fingers through my hair felt odd somehow. I looked down at my pinkyless hand and screamed. I searched for it everywhere and eventually found it tangled in my bed sheets like part of a broken pen.  I thought I was in some bad horror movie (is there any other kind?). My doctor ordered all sorts of tests. Nothing turned up out of the ordinary…

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