The Mark of Disobedience
By Kelly Barina

Why? Why didn't I listen to her? What made me ignore my mother?
Gritting my teeth, I clutched my left hand tighter, watching more blood pour out of the open wound on my middle finger. I could barely see my skin, so covered in blood was my finger. Terrified, I screamed again, louder than before, making my mother swerve to the left on the road.
She regained herself before hitting another vehicle and focused on driving again. Her fingers tightened on the steering wheel and sweat dripped down her forehead.
My finger ached with pain and I let out an involuntary cry. Tears rolled down my cheeks as my entire hand began to tremble. Why won't it stop bleeding? It keeps coming out. Why didn't I listen? It hurts so much. Someone help me. This is too much! I screamed again and squeezed my eyes shut. Why, Mommy? Why.?
"Kelly, make sure you stay away from those machines," my mother had warned not so long ago. "They're not toys."
"Yeah. I know," I muttered, yawning. "I won't do anything."
Shooting me a last look of warning, she turned to her friend, smiled, and started jogging on the treadmill. Sighing, I glanced around the small community gym, examining all of the equipment. I really didn't know what any of the machines were, let alone what they did, but my curiosity was still sparked by the towering metallic devices. I started over to a pile of weights stacked high over my head and gasped in awe. Wow. wonder what this is. It looks really really cool. I want to try it! I reached my hand toward the shiny surface.
Just as I was about to rub my fingers along the metal weights, I froze, remembering my mother's advice. "Don't touch the machines," her voice echoed in my mind.
"Don't touch," I grumbled. "I guess I should listen." Listening to orders, however, was not something a nine-year-old girl did well. I found that the more I remembered my mother's orders, the more tempting the prospect became. I was so caught up in my thoughts that I didn't notice somebody exercising on the machine next to me.
Grumbling to myself, I searched for something to lean on. My eyes wandered back to the machine that I had been staring at before. Something's strange. wasn't that pile of weights higher before? Oh well. Mommy said 'no'. Mommy always tells me 'no'.
Resentment building, I placed my left hand on top of the weights and leaned to the left, too angry to realize that I had disobeyed. I bit my nails, which was something I did sometimes when I was irritated, and mumbled under my breath about my mother.
Clang! One of the weights slammed down nearby. I pretended to ignore it. How could I hurt myself on these things? They don't seem so dangerous. Maybe she's just paranoid. There's nothing to be scared about.
Nodding in agreement with myself, I stood straight and raised my left hand so that I could start ripping off the nails on those fingers, but I was paralyzed when I laid eyes on my hand.
My hand was dripping with blood.
My blood.
The person who had been exercising had now stopped and was shouting out apologies, but I couldn't respond. My mouth was dry. My tongue was numb. My body was frozen like ice. My hand was bleeding.
Hearing the man stuttering apologies, my mother stepped off of the treadmill and faced me. Her gaze remained on my middle finger and the crimson liquid that stained my hand.
All I could bring myself to do was lift up my right hand, point at my wound, and stare listlessly back. Then fear took over and my mouth opened, releasing a blood-curdling scream.
Everything that came next happened in a blur. My mother and her friend whisked me out of the gym and practically carried me to the car. Throwing me inside, they slammed the door and my mother sped off. My agonized cries drowned out the sound of the engine as we zoomed down the highway.
Now I have to suffer for what I did. but why did I do it? Was I really that curious? Or was it out of spite? .Or maybe I just didn't care about what she said. I sniffed, allowing more tears to pour down my pale cheeks. I don't want to go to the hospital. They'll do something to me, mommy. I can't take any more pain. Make it all go away. I'm so sorry.
"I'm sorry!" I shouted. "Don't make me go!" My eyes stung with tears and my entire body trembled with fear.
"You have to," my mother's friend replied.
I shook my head furiously, still shutting my eyes tightly to try and block out the sight of blood. "No, I won't!"
"Kelly, come on," my mother said, her voice closer than before. I opened my eyes a slit and saw the car door open and her standing on the pavement outside. "We're here."
I sobbed uncontrollably, shaking my head and muttering to myself, "No, no, no."
In the end, they had to practically carry me out.
Why couldn't I listen to her? Why didn't I just tell myself that she loved me and let it stay at that? Why can't I just say 'I'm sorry' and make everything bad disappear? I don't want to be here. I want to go home. It hurts too much. Make it stop.
I screamed and screamed, trying to block out everything. My head hurt from all of my painful cried. I couldn't hear anything and since I refused to open my eyes, I couldn't see anything either.
Even though I couldn't hear my piercing shrieks or see the crimson blood pour out of my middle finger, dripping down onto the ground, the scent of it lingered in the air. I tried to avoid thinking about it, but my mind was in such a state of panic that it was all that I could think about. The pain surged through my hand.
In that instant I realized that this was real and the only way out was to fight. Mommy wasn't going to save me.
I had to save me.
Peeking out at the outside world, I searched for something I knew. Nothing. It was just an empty hallway lined with dozens of doors. I cringed and clutched my finger tighter. The wheelchair that I sat in rolled down the dark corridor and my tension rose. My heart thumped in my chest as the nurse pushing me chose a door on the right. The door squeaked open and she wheeled me inside. Holding my left arm against my chest, I cried.
The doctor approached me. He and his nurse both had to lift my screaming form on to the operation table. Panic rose inside of me as the doctor examined my finger. What is he going to do to me? Will he hurt me? What should I do? Should I let him? No! This is too much! He has to let me go! He has to! If he doesn't, I'll.
I thrashed about on the table and his nurse held me down. Since I was shrieking so loudly, I only caught bits of the conversation, but what little I heard scared me out of my wits.
"Split open. insides are coming out of the finger." The doctor said to his nurse. ".Too much blood. stitches."
Stitches! My heart stopped. No. that would mean a needle. I can't let him give me a needle. No! No needles! No more needles! I squeezed my eyes shut and tried to erase my bad memories of the past, but they flashed through my mind nonetheless. I saw visions of my last visit to the hospital. My family members crying at my bedside because they didn't think I'd be coming home. The doctors losing more and more of the hope on their faces with every day I stayed overnight. And the needles. those horrible needles. The nurses were always giving me needles every few hours because they loved to hurt me. That was a nightmare. I've never been so sick before. Mommy said I had a disease. But that was no excuse for the nurses giving me so many needles. They hurt so much. I can't take them any more. It hurts. it hurts so much.
When the needle pricked my finger, my last bits of common sense and reason fled.
Crying out, I wrenched myself free and struggled to roll off of the table. Within seconds, four more nurses and my mother's friend rushed in and restrained me. For a moment, I was helpless. Then the doctor brought the glimmering point toward my middle finger, grazing the skin. My mind snapped.
Breaking free from my captors, I leaned back against the table, brought my knee to my chest and kicked as hard as I could. Before the doctor knew what was happening, my foot struck him squarely in the face. A new wave of fear crashed over me and I held my left hand, whimpering.
Exasperated, the doctor threw up his hands and growled through clenched teeth, "Get her out of here!"
What? I looked up. That was it? I won? No more pain? No stitches? I was even more relieved when one of the angry nurses helped me into the wheelchair. Another quickly bandaged my finger, my leery eyes never leaving her all the while.
When they took me from the torture chamber, I cried, but this time, relief was mixed in with the painful sobs instead of fear. My mother and her friend were in the waiting room. Frustrated, her friend explained what I had done to her and the others, and my mother's face became grim. "Kelly, how could you do that? They were trying to help you."
"I'm sorry," I said through tears, "but I was scared. This hurts enough without that evil doctor making it worse."
"But now your finger will stay open," her friend pointed out. "Your finger will be deformed forever if you don't let the doctor do what needs to be done."
Shaking her head, my mother examined my bandaged finger. "Your finger will never heal correctly now. Kelly, why did you do this in the first place?"
I lowered my head. ".I really don't know why. I'm sorry."
She sighed. "Sorry won't make this disappear."
"Well," I stared at my middle finger, "then that will be my punishment. I'll live forever with this scar." Glancing up at my mother, I managed to give a sheepish smile. "My mark of disobedience."