My index finger was purple. A deep, dark purple, like the color of my favorite marker, the scented kind that smelled like fruit. The tip of my narrow finger bulged slightly, turning darker and darker. My four-year-old self admired the way the mint green rubber band spiraled along my finger. The purple and green together were pretty. I smiled happily to myself. Of all the times I had wrapped and wrapped my rubber band around my finger, it had never turned such a color of purple. So pretty.
I stood up to go show my dad.
And then, my finger started to hurt. It was a sharp, hard pain. I looked at my finger, confused. It kept hurting, the pain getting bigger and bigger. Tears stacked up in my eyes and then rolled down my cheeks, hot and salty. The pain did not go away. I wandered down the hallway into the living room, trying not to howl as I was prone to doing. As I went I held my throbbing finger in front of me.
“Daddy,” I said. “Daddy, owie, Daddy.”
My dad jumped out of his chair and crouched down in front of me to examine the tiny finger held out to him. Immediately, he unwound the rubber band. Loop after loop he pulled away. The pain slid away. After a few seconds my finger turned from purple back to its normal rosy color.
“K,” Dad said. “Do not ever do that again, ok?”
“Owie,” I said.
“Yes,” he said. “That hurts your finger. You need to be careful, ok? No more rubber bands.”
He put the rubber band in the pocket of his flannel shirt.
The effect was immediate. I glared at him, poking our my bottom lip and narrowing my eyebrows. He was taking my rubber band. My ehpay. Slowly, I held out my hand.
“Mine,” I said. “Ehpay.”
“No, K,” Dad said.
“No more rubber bands.”
I stomped my tiny foot into the carpet.
Dad stood up and went back to his chair.
“Please, Daddy,” I said, following him. “Ehpay?”
My fingers and wrist felt wrong without that smooth band around them. I needed that rubber band.
“No, KK,” he said. “Go play with your toys now. No more rubber bands.”
Tears came back and I clenched my little fists. I wanted it, needed it.
Dad ignored me and I stood, staring at him, wondering if I could steal the one from his pocket.
“KK,” he said, reading my mind. “Go on now.”
I turned to stomp down the hallway. And then I remembered.
Tomorrow morning there would be a new ehpay. They always came in the morning when Daddy opened the newspaper.