I have pictured him, all these years later, running with short powerful strides. His face open and shocked, unblinking, rushing after me. It’s not possible I saw him like this, his cardigan open and flapping, his hat missing. But regardless, his broad gnarled hands swallow my tiny maimed hand and I am yelping and he is whispering, “It’ll be alright.” I am shaking shaking. “It’ll be alright.”
Of course, the finger doesn’t matter. All these years later the pain is only of the heart, for causing him anguish; but also for knowing that at that moment, on that day, he held me.