By Abdulbaseet Yusuff

Heavens know well that when I said I wanted to hit it big before 30, I did not mean to be hit by a car. That night, the driver had charged out onto the road from the canopy of mango trees beneath which a shed thrives on beer & aphrodisiacs served by women who paint themselves in defiance of the night. I shielded my eyes from the biting yellowness of the headlights and took a step away from the tarred path.

Perhaps I was not quick enough. The car sent me hurtling. I suspect that my stomach swallowed the screech of the car tyres against the road because I don’t remember hearing one. A pain, sharp as a blunt knife, crept into my hip like an afterthought. The constellation danced before my eyes like fireflies. Silence blossomed in my head; the people pooled — each recommending whatever First Aid they remembered from Physical Education. Each outshouting each; their voices, like the sound of sandpaper over wood.

I woke up swimming inside my head. All the sounds I heard were as intelligible as the language of gargling.

For every time I opened my eyes afterwards, I embraced a bodied mirage: doctor peering; nurses shuffling with bees for hands; my brother bent over by the bedside like a mullah succumbing to sleep mid-prayer & finally, my right arm, much shorter, finishing as a bandaged stump.

For the rest of the days in clinic, I was assaulted by the smell of the toxic relationship between antiseptic and vomit in the hallways, and the optimism of the therapist who, with calculated gesticulation, chirped on about the cut being below elbow and about me not letting the stump limit me. I knew that he meant well — I still know it — but I also think things like that are easy to say when one has all of their hands to illustrate their point.

Abdulbaseet Yusuff is a Nigerian writer. His works appear or are forthcoming in Brittle Paper, Rattle, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Kalahari Review, Burning House Press, Ice Floe Press, The Rising Phoenix Review, Memento: An Anthology of Contemporary Nigerian Poetry, and elsewhere.

Art by Lesley C. Weston (Digital drawing)

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