copyright © 2005 by Adam Hahn

by Adam Hahn


I'm leaving.
I know I've said this before. We always end up fighting and throwing around words like "co-dependent", then we negotiate promises we won't keep, and two weeks later we're back where we started.
This is different.
No, this is not what I want. I want you to kiss my neck and make me promise I'll never leave. I want to spoon on the couch while we watch movies. I want you to wake me up in the morning by biting my fingers. I want to tell myself I can feel the way I did our first month together.

Exit GIRL.

Until Katy Baggs' piece last week, I had forgotten my brief obsession with headlines a couple of years ago that read, "Hiker Removes Hand With Pocketknife".
The story goes like this:
An experienced hiker and mountaineer is alone in a very narrow and very remote canyon in Utah. As he scrambles over a boulder, it shifts, pinning his right hand.
(to demonstrate, he tips a table over on his hand)
The boulder, the hiker, and the hand remain in this position for the next five days.
None of the articles I read explain how he passes the time, but I imagine many of the hours go by like this:
"Help! My arm is trapped under a fucking boulder!"
No one hears him.
Of course, he runs out of water after three days, so the last hours sound more like this:
(hoarse gasp, effortful but quiet)

NARRATOR remains in place, struggles quietly.

BOY enters.

You're right. This is different. We've been through this enough times that I know it's not worth fighting.
I know you're not really leaving. You can't: it's like we're part of each other's bodies. If you go, you'll miss me tomorrow, or the day after, and you'll come back.
You can talk about this all you want, but when you're done talking you won't want to leave.

Exit BOY.

The hiker is without food, without water, without hope of rescue. He sees only two options, and so far he isn't enjoying death by exposure. He reaches into his pocket and produces--not a pocketknife--a multitool.

NARRATOR displays a multitool, opens blade, tourniquets arm with his belt.

That is a pair of pliers with a folding blade in the handle.
I've owned a few of these myself, and I assume that his is sturdy enough, but without a particularly sharp blade.
He cuts just beneath the elbow.
Again, the news articles get vague here, but he must cover himself in blood as he works through the soft tissue. Even with an improvised tourniquet, this is messy and slippery work, involving a lot of scraping and sawing motions that barely dig into his flesh.
After the hiker has peeled back the skin, cut through the muscle, tested the effectiveness of his tourniquet by tearing the arteries, he finds his arm in two distinct sections separated by a band of missing flesh.
Everything above the wound is still his own. He can feel rocks against his shoulder. He can flex his bicep. His living pores drip as much salt and water as they have left, which probably can't make the stinging much worse than it already is.
Beneath the tear, there is something that can no longer feel or move, or even bleed like a living thing.
These entities are not yet divorced. At the end of each protrudes white, glistening bone. Between them, rubbery connective tissue still holds the elbow joint together.
After, what, hours(?) of cutting, the hiker is barely able to hold the multitool, let alone perform surgery with it. He has been lucky to avoid snapping the blade, which has nicked the bone enough times to be comically dull by now. Imagine carving a raw Thanksgiving turkey with a butter knife.
I wonder if he decides to wiggle the blade between the bones to pry them apart, or if he gives up on the blade and tears free by twisting and wrenching his arm. I'll pause for a moment now so we can all imagine the sound this would make.
Either way, I bet he closes his eyes for this part.

NARRATOR rights the table. He will leave the multitool on it while keeping his arm behind his back.

The important lesson here is that he never wants to remove his arm. This is an act of pure rationality and necessity, not of desire.
Every day of this man's life, probably every time he steps in front of a urinal, he will miss having two arms.

Enter GIRL, who will take the multitool.

Not for one minute of his life will he regret his decision.

A multitool. That is a pair of pliers with a folding blade in the handle.

Enter BOY.

Of course, he didn't have the option of stabbing the boulder.


I want to kiss your neck while you promise we'll always be together. I want to wake you up by nibbling your fingers.
I know you want the same things.

Go away.

Let me kiss you on the neck. Just once. If you can tell me you don't want me to do it again, I'll leave.

I know what I want.


Pause while BOY steps close to GIRL

If you're going to do this, close your eyes.

LIGHTS DOWN, while GIRL prepares to injure BOY with the knife.

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