Lisa Ohlen Harris provides us with a short passage that didn’t make it into her forthcoming book Through the Veil. (This post first appeared on her website LisaOhlenHarris.com.)
I stayed home with the baby that night. I must have fallen asleep on the sofa, because when I woke about midnight, Todd wasn’t home yet. The gathering at the Manning’s house must have run late, I thought.
While I was putting on pajamas and brushing my teeth, Todd was helping Tim out of the wrecked taxi. A couple of Arab shabab stopped at the scene of the accident to ask if they could help; they took Tim to the emergency room to have his head sewn shut.
When they left the Manning’s house, the guys had waved down a taxi. Tim sat in the front seat, because his Arabic was better than Todd’s. There was a seat belt on the passenger’s side, Tim remembered later, but it was grimy and dusty. He thought briefly that he should put it on anyway, but pushed the thought away knowing that the driver would interpret this as an insult to his driving—and a lack of trust in the will of God.
Todd woke me up when he finally got home, early in the morning. It was still dark, but I remember hearing the birds sing outside our bedroom window. When I turned on a lamp, I saw blood all over Todd’s sandals and a deep gash between his toes, almost splitting his foot for an inch or so. It should have been sutured, but he hadn’t noticed his own injury while he was at the hospital with Tim. Todd’s wound took weeks to heal, and he still has the scar. It’s easy to hide under socks and shoes.
We didn’t see Tim over the weekend, and when he came to the language school that Monday he had a big piece of gauze taped over the wound. When his forehead healed enough he took gauze off, but it wasn’t until the sutures were removed that we all saw the jagged crescent.
So there’s the “deleted scene.” The guys were in a taxi crash. Tim hurt his head and ended up with a crescent-shaped scar. It’s kinda interesting, but so what? I mean, really, why would this story matter to anyone but our family and Tim’s? I might tell about the accident when we get the old gang together, sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s book-worthy.
As I assembled my chapters for Through the Veil, I wanted each memory, each chapter to say something more than, “This happened then that happened, now isn’t the Middle East exotic?”
Ultimately, the taxi accident memory just didn’t make the cut.
Lisa Ohlen Harris is Relief’s Creative Nonfiction editor. Her Middle East memoir, Through the Veil, will be published by Canon Press in 2010. Lisa’s essays have appeared in journals like River Teeth, Arts & Letters, and The Laurel Review, and have received special mention in Pushcart Prize XXXIII: Best of the Small Presses (2009) and in Best American Spiritual Writing (2008 and 2010). Lisa enjoys mentoring and editing the work of emerging writers through her critique service.