I have a terrible habit of cracking my knuckles. I do it when I’m anxious or bored. I’ve done it enough to the point where my hands actually hurt from doing it so much. I make an effort to not do it anymore, but sometimes I cave. This story is going to be an exaggerated case of someone with the same habit. It will be fun and hopefully not too gut-wrenching.
“You do that long enough and you’re gonna give yourself arthritis.”
“That’s just one of those old wives tales. They’ve done studies on it, you know.”
“Scientists. Who else?”
“Look at you. You’re rubbing your hands. Do you even remember why we’re talking about this?”
“Yeah, I said my hands hurt, but it’s not because I crack my knuckles.”
His father looks at him, confused, and shakes his head while leaving his standing in the kitchen as he grabs an ice pack out of the freezer. He wraps the ice pack in paper towels, so it’s not too cold on his hands, and goes back to his room to continue working on his final paper for class.
The class is Russian Literature. As the amount of time being spent on the computer increases, his anxiety rises as well, which causes him to crack his knuckles. When he cracks his knuckles, he feels a small rush that makes him feel good. he wishes the rush would never go away because as soon as it does, the pain sets in. When the pain sets in, he can’t write because he has to ice his hands, which raises the anxiety level further because Russian Literature is not his best (nor favorite) subject and all he can do is kill time while his hands are out of commission.
This makes him repeat the vicious cycle over and over again to the point where he has no choice but to fight through the pain. He also can’t put it off for another day because he’s been going against his father’s wishes by procrastinating the entire week. Now, he has one day to write a ten page paper.
The fear of upsetting his father continues to raise his anxiety, so he tries to crack his knuckles again. A loud pop and a sharp pain runs up through his hand and even into his upper arm. He looks down and tries to wiggle his fingers, but he notices a few of them are stuck and the pain is getting worse. He grabs his thumb and tries to unlock it from its position and there’s another loud pop. The thumb dislocated and he has no control over it. He tries to make a fist, but the thumb is left dangling from his hand.
As he attempts to open the closed fist, two more fingers are locked into place. This time, he tries to open the arms up more gently but those fingers break as well. He looks down at his hand and three fingers flop back and forth. The sight of this causes him to throw up and he screams for his father.
“What’s going on? What happened?” his father asks frantically.
“My hand! My fucking hand! Look!” he cries to his father.
“Watch your mouth. Let me see what’s going o–Jesus H! What happened!”
“I don’t know! It hurts so bad, dad.”
“Grab your things,” his father says, as he calls his wife to tell her to meet them at the hospital.
“Where are we going?”
The hospital has always been a place that caused a significant amount of anxiety. The cleanliness, the fluorescent lighting, and the thought of being cut open or getting sick from some kind of disease looming in the air or on dirty equipment that was left out instead of being properly disposed of all create havoc in the son’s mind, so he cracks the knuckles on his other hand without thinking twice about it. More loud pops and a much sharper pain runs through his hands and his father turns around and looks at his son in disgust when he realizes the fingers on his other hand are dislocated. The son, now bawling his eyes out and screaming incoherently is in some sort of sensory overload and can do nothing but wave his arms back and forth, which also causes the fingers on both hands to spin like little pinwheels.
The father, who is still on the phone with his wife, frantically tries to calm his son down, but he can’t keep him calm and his wife is starting to freak out over the phone as well. He always obsessed over his health because of a fear of one day getting a heart attack, like his father and his father’s father. The sight of the fingers freely flopping back and forth do the father in and he collapses. The son stops and sees his father drop to the floor. He tries to pick up the phone, but he can’t because he has no control over his fingers. The door in his room is closed, and he realizes he’s trapped.
The son realizes he could just drop to the floor and talk to his mother, but she must have hung up some time during the chaos and rushed to the hospital. Feeling completely vulnerable, he tries to crack whatever’s left of his knuckles.