The serrated blade squeezed through the bread and slid into my skin. My heart leapt. I jumped up in pain, dropped the knife, and clasped my finger with the opposite hand. A single crimson drop of blood formed at the tip of my left index finger. It felt like an ice pick was pressing into my chest. My hands turned numb, my vision blurred, and my stomach brewed with nausea. Beads of sweat formed on my forehead. My arms dropped to my side all but incapacitated. My head bobbed into unconscious. A ringing pierced my eardrums and then faded to deep silence.
I heard someone say my name. A familiar voice in the distance.
"Jeremy. Jeremy, are you okay?"
I knew the voice but could not place it.
Again the voice called out, "Jeremy, can you hear me? Are you okay?"
My senses returned. That voice is Rhiana's , I thought. A slight smile formed on my face from the sound of her voice. Yes. Now things are returning to normal .
A third time, Rhiana spoke. "Jeremy, answer me. What is going on?"
Like I had just been woken from a trance I muttered in a hushed monotone, "I cut my finger slicing the bread. It's not bad, but I'm going to pass out. Get me a chair; I don't want to fall. And can you turn off the oven?"
Rhiana agreed, "I will get you a chair, but first you have to sit down on the floor."
"No. I can stand up if you just get me a chair and turn off the oven."
Rhiana turned to get a chair. I stood and glared at the lime-green digital numbers on our pearl-white stovetop range. The numbers read "350." My mind raced with the thought of the overheated oven. "I just have to turn it off. It's only a few steps away. I will feel better once it is turned off." One step toward the stovetop and the digital numbers danced like fireflies on a summer night. One half step and the numbers swung into a streak of lime green lightning.
I felt the cool kitchen floor tiles on my face. The hum that resonated from the refrigerator motor was slightly louder than normal. I rolled to my back, placed my hand on the windowsill, and pulled myself to the wall. My sweaty hands slid on the tile as I propped myself into a sitting position. I was then facing the stove. The cabinets and appliances appeared jumbled together in a white, clouded blob before me.
I heard that familiar voice again. "Jeremy. Jeremy! What happened? Are you okay? Why couldn't you just leave that stupid oven be?"
Crouched on the floor, I tried to hold my head up, but it sank back down. The nausea in my stomach nearly elevated to a heave. Again I tried to hold up my head, and again it fell between my shoulders.
Rhiana was frantic. "Are you okay? Can you hear me? What happened?"
I mumbled once more about the stove, and as the nausea rose I said, "Call
Rhiana left the room and returned with the phone. She dialed a few chirps and dashed through the operator's query, "Hello. Yes. Medical, please. My fiancé cut his finger. He passed out, and I think he hit his head on the way down. Okay. Thank you."
Rhiana retrieved a cold, wet hand towel and pressed it to my face. "Can you hold this on your head? Let me see your finger. You are bleeding everywhere." She lifted my limp arm from the floor and folded my unscathed fingers down and out of the way. "You need to hold this hand up. Hold this paper towel on it and keep up the pressure while I get the bandages. Why didn't you listen to me and just sit down?"
Coming back to my senses, I persisted. "Did you turn off the oven?" She had left the room.
Returning again and this time agitated by the repeated question she snapped back, "Yes, the oven is off. Keep your hand up!"
It was then that I could here the rumble of diesel engines rolling onto our quiet street. The engines grew loud and bombastic and then they idled off into silence. Rhiana opened the door and I could hear a scanner radio screeching out updates over the emergency radio band. The voices of several men talking in the drive grew closer accompanied by the thump of large protective boots. I could see the silhouette of a fireman's hat standing outside the door. Rhiana stepped out to greet them.
As the crew began to fill the kitchen, Rhiana leaned down and looked into my dazed eyes. "You know that whole 'In sickness and in health' thing? We haven't agreed to that yet, so try to not do something like this again for another couple of weeks. Okay?"