If someone handed you a matchbox with their phalanx bones inside, and referred to it with a shy smile on handing it over as ‘Toe of Toe Hall’, you’d be charmed, wouldn’t you? You wouldn’t yell out to a cafeteria full of teenagers “He’s giving me his boner!” You wouldn’t join in the laughter pouring down like pig’s blood.
I had my first body parts removed at the age of six. Airborne Foot versus Metal Bed Railing. Several bones in the second toe on my right foot didn’t make it. The doctor at the hospital took one look and said “amputation”, right in front of me. I got to take the removed sections home, as a bribe to stop me screaming.
For years, I kept them in an empty matchbox, which I dubbed Toe Hall. Push open the drawer: Toe of Toe Hall. My parents laughed at that every time.
And they bought me a new bed.
Sixteen-year-old girls apparently don’t like receiving body parts. Personally, I thought it a sweet idea, that I was offering something of myself. I wasn’t good at small talk.
Daphne was in my tutor group. We were in the same room for roll call every morning, five days a week. It wasn’t as though I were a total stranger. It’s not as though I necessarily expected her to display my toe bones against her own skin, in the warm, scented hollow of her suprasternal notch, say. She could have kept the box on her bedside table. I didn’t include instructions.
I tossed the box in the trash as I ran out of the building.