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Pins and Needles Pins and Needles
by Andrew Farley
2006-10-22 10:50:53
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Even before I opened my eyes, I could the feel the warm midday sun splashed across my face. As the room came into focus and my eyes adjusted to the light, a familiar sense of disappointment washed over me. I don’t dream very often you see, due to my condition. On the rare occasion I do manage deep sleep my dreams have a realness to them that always disappoints me when I wake.

My latest, the first in three weeks, saw me living the life of a millionaire in a penthouse suite at the Ritz. Champagne on ice on a marble table. Crystals dripping from every light fitting and carpets that your feet sink into when you walk across them. In reality, my penthouse suite is a rancid top floor bed-sit in an east end high rise and the only thing that surrounds me here is peeling wallpaper, a family of cockroaches and walls so damp that even the worn down carpet curls up its edges and refuses to touch them.

I swung my legs out of bed and I managed to place them straight into the remnants of yesterday’s breakfast. Withered Cheerios and clotted milk seep through my toes. The putrid smell rising from the bowl will hang around for days and cling to the drying clothes hanging from the pipe work like a Chinese laundry.

It was then I became aware I was missing a hand.

When I say missing I don’t mean it had been cut off in the night or mysteriously vanished in to the ether. The hand was still there. It was just all sensation stopped at my wrist. I raised my left arm so the hand was in front of my face and gazed at it like a baby discovering its fingers for the first time. As I rotated my wrist to check the back of the hand, I realised I couldn’t move it either.

It took a good five minutes for my brain to fully register that it could see my hand yet it couldn’t feel or control it. After a while I came to the conclusion it was a nasty case of pins and needles and the feeling and movement would return as soon as the blood flow was restored.

Over the next few hours I sank into my usual routine of watching daytime chat shows and attempting some household chores, working around my lifeless limb the best I could. Even though in the back of my mind concern and anxiety where beginning to grow, I kept coming up with logical reasons to explain the loss of feeling and movement. I decided to phone the maintenance department about the faulty lock on the front door to take my mind of the hand. Yesterday, after coming back from the job centre, I slammed the door in frustration. Another wasted journey. Somehow I managed to break the lock so it was constantly set to dead bolt, which in effect meant I was a prisoner in my own flat.

After a couple of rings a voice completely void of any sincerity or enthusiasm entered my ear.

‘Good afternoon Locks ‘R’ Us, Angela speaking, how can I help?’
‘Hi, I phoned yesterday about my front door and you said someone would be…’
‘What’s the name sir?’
‘Pardon’
‘Your name sir’

Thrown slightly by her interruption I continued.

‘Erm...Mr Parker, but I told you that yesterday when I…’
‘Someone will be out to see you today Mr Parker’

I didn’t believe her.

‘But you said that yesterday’

Blatantly lying she replied.

‘They may have called when you were out Mr Parker’
‘Out! I’m bloody locked in. That’s why I’m ringing you stupid bit…’

Once again she interrupted me but this time when she spoke her tone of voice suggested to me I was lucky not to finish my sentence.

‘Someone…will be out...to see you...today. Sir!

For a few moments I sat there with the dial tone echoing round my head, then put down the receiver and stifled a yawn with my hand. As it touched my mouth it startled me to find I still had no feeling at all. A shiver shot down my spine raising goose bumps all over my body; except my hand.

Three hard bangs on the door woke me from my precious slumber. Startled and disorientated I leapt to my feet but as soon as I was up I crashed to the floor, smashing through the small coffee table with a sickening thud. Dazed by the fall I looked down at my legs and was horrified to see a large ragged splinter of wood sticking out of the side of my right leg just above the knee cap. As I stared at the bleeding wound I became aware of a complete lack of pain.

‘Hello! Mr Parker! It’s Locks ‘R’ Us.’
‘……’

My eyes grew wide as I tried to speak. My voice, where the fuck was my voice. I grabbed my throat and tried to force out a sound but the only noise I heard was the screaming in my head. Tears of effort trickled down my face.

‘Mr Parker! If you don’t answer I’ll have to put this down as a missed call and you’ll have to ring the office to organise another one…Mr Parker’
‘For God’s sake help me!
‘I’m gonna have to go Mr Parker…’
‘No… please, you have to help me’
‘…I‘ve got three other visits to make today…’
‘Why can’t you hear me? I can hear me. What’s happening to me? Please help me!’
‘…and it’s already three forty five. Mr Parker! Sod it.’

I sat in stunned silence for a moment; then with my good hand I frantically patted down my leg, squeezing and groping, trying to feel something. In desperation I grabbed the splinter of wood and drove it in a further two inches, tearing the skin around the wound. Nothing. The blood seeping through my trousers had started to form a pool under my leg which seemed to have a blackness to it. No logical reason I mustered seemed to be good enough anymore. Pins and needles seemed so far from the truth now. But what was the truth? How could this happen? Why me? Unanswerable questions bounced around my silent head. My chest heaved and strained as I gulped at the copper stained air.

My blood was warm to the touch yet I felt so cold.

My eyes flashed open. I checked the clock on the video player to see how long I’d passed out for. Three fifty five. Only ten minutes had passed, surely that was to short a time for anything else to have…As I looked down into my lap my once good hand stared back at me like a dead spider on its back. Two hands, a leg and a voice box completely paralysed in less than four hours. What was happening to me? I had to find an answer.

I had to get myself comfortable so I could think clearly. I shifted my weight onto my left leg and balancing with my knee and toes looked around the room. The bed seemed the closest option. All of a sudden I lost my balance and tipped forward. Forgetting my situation for a second, I put out my right hand to stop myself falling. The sickening snap of my wrist seemed to echo round the room. As I lay on the floor, the side of my face pushed in to the carpet, I sighed with relief and found myself actually grateful for the lack of feeling. Pushing up on my elbows and using my good leg, I dragged myself across the floor making sure I avoided eye contact with my broken wrist, just in case the feeling flooded back bringing with it the pain.

Like a giant slug I slid across the carpet. My silver trail now a scarlet stain following behind. On reaching the bed it took every ounce of strength I had left pull myself up on to it. Exhausted I rolled onto my back. With my arms stretched out as if on a crucifix I closed my eyes.

That’s where you find me today. Three days have passed and there’s not much left. Next to go was my left arm then it was my neck. Every time I drifted in and out of consciousness something else would disappear. My left leg froze from the foot up one joint at a time. I haven’t eaten since this all started, and I’ve managed to stay awake for the last twenty four hours trying to retain these last sensations. My eyes and thoughts are the only parts of me left that I control. Trapped in a frozen body, they search together for a way to explain this horror. Over and over I replay the past three days in my mind. Could I have got the repair mans attention if I’d tried harder? Could I have smashed a window? Should I have phoned the doctor when I discovered the loss of my hand? I know it’s futile but it keeps me awake and delays the inevitable.

Ever since I loss the use of my eyelids I’ve been judging the time of day by the different shades of red that bleed through them.

I think it’s about five but…I can’t be sure.


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