'“Now put your finger in the hole. Which one are you willing to lose?”
Julia paused and thought about all the poking and scratching she did, all the finger licking, wagging and waving of small goodbyes. The picking of the nose, the dragging of her fingers through her hair, giving Peter the bird, holding him tight in her hands and squeezing and pumping it up and down. She remembered drawing a house on Teddy’s back and asking him to guess what it was. These things would never be the same again. She imagined life without an index, trigger or ring finger. Julia checked herself, laughed and thought: it’s only a trick, there is no risk.
Julia took the guillotine from him. Her fingers felt like sausages and she didn’t seem to be able to work the pegs.
He saw her hesitate and she let his hands guide her.
“It’s just a trick, isn’t it? Nobody has ever lost a finger... have they?”'
Excerpt from The Finger, a story in We Rose Up Slowly
The Finger is a story from my book, We Rose Up Slowly. The story was written in 2014 and explores themes of privilege. expatriate family life and the treatment of domestic workers amidst a marital crisis.
In The Finger:
- The protagonist, Julia, is grieving for her lost relationships and is very lonely.
- There is a need for Julia to cut things off, to separate, to see things as they are if she is to achieve real change
- (*** Spoiler alert ***)
My intention was to build sympathy for Julia in her conflict with her husband while keeping her domestic worker, Maria, in the background always as a tool, a slave, an object, easily manipulated because of class & money differences. Then at the end after Julia has bested her husband, to jolt the reader and have Maria reject Julia to show she is just as shallow as her husband in the way she regards Maria.
- That is, despite making a significant decision to achieve freedom and end her relationship with her husband, she remains alone at the end of the story because she needs to move beyond self pity and privileged, self centredness.
- She needs to cut off from her materialism and privilege not just the male in her life.
- There are passing references to one of my favourite meals: chicken and broccoli lasagna, Michael Jackson, a magic shop in Peninsular Shopping Centre, Paddington party small talk from the late 1980s, the VIX-CBOE Volatility Index, Diane Arbus’s photograph child with toy hand grenade, Billie Holliday etc.