August 13, 1995 02:05 PM

Years ago. At the end of the summer. My parents were away. Friends were still close. And, after a summer of carousing, the reality of going back to school had set in. And set hard.

As happened almost every year, we had a big hurricane scare. I ran a ton of errands and put gas in the car - in case fleeage became a necessity. Then. I pulled into the driveway. Grabbed my bags, my keys. Locked the door.

And locked my damn thumb in the door.

It hurt. Rather a lot.

My keys were in the thumb that was locked in the door. I had - I don't know, something breakable - in my other hand. And I carefully put down the bags. Reach for the keys. Unlock the car door. Remove thumb. Re-lock door. Pick up the bags. Calmly walk to the house. Unlock the front door. Put down the bags.

Then I opened the freezer, stuck my entire hand into a bag of frozen food. And screamed for fully ten minutes.

That night my circle closed around itself. We waited for the storm that never happened. And sat. And cried, knowing the next day set us on the way to not being our circle anymore.

Later, I'd make a sketch from my memory of the four of us. Sitting on the steps of her porch. I still have that image - the one I made, and the one it represented. And I have my thumbnail's memory.

Of course, it fell off. Over a few months, it grew back. But it grew almost as two separate nails originally. Grew striated and red.

Years. It's still slightly striated. Textured. Thick. If it breaks (as it did a few days ago), the pain is a little reminder of that night. Of the years before. And after. Of the day we three spent arm in arm, drenched at the amusement park.

It's tenderness is my history.

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