Oh my God! What happened to my finger? I dare not look down in case I might find it.
I squeeze my throbbing index finger with my left hand. Perhaps if I apply enough pressure, it will revert to its pre-accident state.
This is not supposed to happen. Not at one o’clock in the morning in a small village in the south of France. Not after our gourmet one-star Michelin restaurant celebration for dad’s 85th birthday. And certainly not when all seven of us are back in our tiny hotel rooms and I cannot cry for help.
I should have known better; remembered that hotel rooms in France are not required to conform to the high safety standards I’m used to in the U.S. But that’s what gives them their charm. And yet, I’m cursing at the lack of directions on how to close the metal shutters. You see, these antiquated hinges act like sharp knives, and if not folded in a manner known only to the French, result in a chop, akin to the guillotine. Why would this come as a surprise when all ten rooms sit on top of an antique store with bureaus dating from the eighteenth century, and rats scuttling under the rafters?
Perhaps my finger is no longer bleeding? I release my tourniquet grip and squint, hoping that a quick glance will minimize the injury. There’s a deep cut. Do I need stitches? If so, is there an emergency room in Rignac?
I have no Band-aids. Is anyone awake? I listen. The cats are screaming. They sound like newborn babies waiting for a nipple to soothe their hunger. A throat in the room next to mine sounds raw and infected.
My neighbor is coughing. I hear the phlegm in her chest. She cannot sleep and through the walls, her bed creaks as her feet hit the linoleum and tap their way to the bathroom for a glass of water. I know her husband is asleep; his snores cause the wall to vibrate.
I take a risk and tap on her door. This is my last hope, or I shall have to wrap a towel around my hand all night.
She opens the door, turns on the light waking her husband up. He sees me and within seconds, I have a couple in their seventies, taking care of me as though I were their own daughter. I feel strange. No one has nurtured me like a daughter since I was a kid. Those few seconds remind me of what it must be like to have a mother still alive.
I cherish the warmth and kindness offered to me by this couple.
Do you have any weird stories to share about something that happened during a vacation?