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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Click (04/18/13)

TITLE: Cut, Scrape, Maim and Dismember
By Judith Gayle Smith


Cut, Scrape, Maim and Dismember

I cherish my Mike’s beautifully weathered, lovingly caressing hands. I adamantly refuse to cause undue pain to my handsome lover, although he occasionally risks limb lopping when he insists that I clip his fast-growing thick fingernails.

Click, click, click. Pray between each nasty click. My nervous shaky hands and very sharp nail clippers make an extremely dangerous pairing, (or paring for those inclined to puns).

Parkinson’s Disorder affects Mike’s left side, making it almost impossible for him to clip the curving nails on his gnarled rheumatoid-twisted right hand. Mike bravely grooms his bent left hand, waiting for moments free of violent shakes. Understandably, therefore, he sweetly, but firmly requests my rather unwilling help.

I would do just anything to please my beloved husband. Well, anything within reason. I have an unreasonable, unshakeable fear of sharp items that cut, scrape, maim and dismember. I have nervously clipped his fingernails twice in forty years. I fear not the nasty little clippers themselves, but the position in which I am placed using them, with the propensity to cause extreme pain and copious bleeding. I cringe, awaiting the shrieks of pain as I click too sharply, cutting away his fingertips.

Right now I am contemplating the toenails on my pasty white right foot. Touched with a wee bit of nasty yellow ridged fungus, these riotous toenails grow to incredible lengths. I fear using Mike’s industrial-strength toenail clippers, and so shakily balance, chin on knee, to cut these monstrous claws with the sharpest pair of scissors in my repertoire. I have good reason to fear – my jewelry crafting scissors are used by three different crafters to cut wire, string, paper, hair and the hapless chicken destined for the stew pot. Not much sharpness left. The abused scissors just folds my hapless toenail in half.

Perched in the bubbling bliss of our Jacuzzi bathtub for almost two hours, reading medical thrillers, somewhat softens my soggy toenails and I can almost peel them off with my fingernails. Unfortunately, my water softened fingernails tear as I struggle with my toenails. Oh, if only I could gleefully bite off my toenails as I used to chomp down my fingernails.

I am most uncomfortable cutting hair, whether my own or Mike’s once beautiful curly hair. Scissors, shavers, knives and razors are tools designed to perform mischief and mayhem. Shaky hands or no, the damage done by one misaligned snip is horribly irreversible and downright embarrassing.

I haven’t always been this nervous with scissors and clippers. We once were possessed by our sweet crazy parakeet named Isaac – Zack, for short. Child of my old age, child of laughter. Zack trusted me so – sticking his striped, feathered, warm soft fragile head in my, by comparison, cavernous mouth. He would then lift his exquisite turquoise wing so I could nuzzle his soft downy wing pits with my nose. He was brilliantly smart, hysterically funny, sweet anise seed (like licorice) fragrant– and owlishly wise. He once foolishly trusted me to trim his curving talons. Actually, he didn’t know better. I could be trusted to keep his food and water cups full, provide jingly toys, to clear his bright mirrors to delight his narcissism, amusing himself as well as we observers. He trusted me to keep his cage somewhat, not fastidiously clean.

While my husband held Zack’s tiny trusting body firmly, gently, I cautiously approached with the nail clippers, better known as the jaws of death. Trembling, I bravely clipped one teensy talon, fearing to cut too close to the quick. Click. Success. On to the next little curvy talon, click – oh no. Zack let out a banshee squawk, flutter-jumped out of Mike’s protective hand, screeching and frantically hopping the length of the kitchen table, leaving wee, guilt-inducing bright red blood spots in his tortured wake. Zack magnanimously forgave me. Trust can be cautiously rebuilt with enough seed tree bribes. Zack survived me and lived to be eleven years young, despite my fumbling machinations.

I’ve a far better tool for cutting sin from my life – God’s Holy Word, His Bible. Some passages cut sharply. He has a purpose: KJV Acts 2:38 “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

The Sword of the Spirit cuts cleanly, leaving no infection. I trust His wielding of His two-edged word because He is the One handling it.

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Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/27/13
This was a fascinating, though slightly gross (but in a good way) story. There is something about toenails that makes me shudder. You reminded me of the time my mom cut my son's hair. He was a toddler and she called me at work sobbing that she cut off his ear! She even saved the piece on ice just in case...except it was so tiny it couldn't be found. He does have a tiny scar on his ear to remember his Grandma who died about a year later. You do a nice job of transitioning from your story to your message, which is a good one.
Ellen Carr 04/27/13
I agree that wielding clippers/scissors etc can be a bit scary! You've covered a great variety of clicking and snipping and made it interesting. Well done.
Christina Banks 04/28/13
I'm usually fine when it comes to cutting hair, but I get nervous cutting my toddler's nails. Adding a screaming, thrashing toddler to my heightened nerves doesn't help. When it is finished we've both shed a few tears. Speaking of that, he due for another nail trimming.
lynn gipson 04/28/13
Beautiful story here tells of a beautiful marriage. Your love for Mike shines in this one. Thank you for sharing this lovely part of your life. Well done!
Cinda Carter 04/29/13
Your transition from your story to the biblical version was well taken. It's true we do sometimes come under the knife of the Holy Spirit then we put our trust in Christ as He heals up our wounds. We then become more like our Savior, Jesus. I to was always afraid of cutting my mom's nails when she lived with us. I would always let my husband do that part because he has such a steady hand and I don't. I thank the Lord that He has a steady hand in our own lives. A story well done.
Cheryl Harrison04/29/13
All the clipping made me a little squeamish. I too, hate sharp objects. Unfortunately, they are a necessity.

My favorite line in your story:

"The Sword of the Spirit cuts cleanly, leaving no infection. I trust His wielding of His two-edged word because He is the One handling it."

Good job. Keep writing!
Alicia Renkema04/29/13
You create the best word pictures with your intricately-woven sentences. Your love for Mike does shine through (lucky guy) but I loved the part about Zack the best. This piece was both delightful and gross. Tiny bit of red ink on two things: I think you talked about too many different kinds of things that you clipped instead of one or two. The other thing I would say is I know though in some instances they are similar, I almost felt like the word was clip, cut, or sharp, even though you did use click, I felt the other words more keenly in this piece. Still, a great lesson at the end. I always love your Bible verses and you have a great way of tying all of your stories to the word of God. Thanks for sharing with us some intimate clippings of your life.
Loren T. Lowery05/01/13
What strikes me most about this piece is the love the wife has for her husband. It positively radiates from the page. Aside from the story itself (which is well told and "boldly" on topic) I enjoyed the way the moral unfolded.
Bea Edwards 05/01/13
What began as a very precious description of her love, morphed into a comical look at her nasty feet and bird abuse. Very entertaining!
Maria Kana Santos05/02/13
I enjoyed this very much for topic CLICK. A win-placer, I believe. Good writing. Thank you!