It is only after I have been at my new flat for some months that I begin to receive mail other than bills and offers to enter prize draws.
One of my first personal envelopes contains a scrawled message from an old acquaintance with whom I was friendly many years ago. I am distressed to read that my friend is deeply unhappy, and I am disturbed further to read that if he receives no reply to the letter I hold in my hands he will feel compelled to chop off one of his fingers with a kitchen knife. Days pass, full of inconsequential incidents, until a small parcel arrives. The postmark indicates that it is from my friend. With trepidation I open it.
Underneath the brown wrapping paper is a little box which bears the return address of my friend. There is also a stamp on the box, but other than this the package proves to be empty. I open up the box, but the space within is likewise vacant. A sense of relief floods briefly through me, and my days once more assume a comfortable aspect.
One week later, another identical parcel arrives. It too is empty, and I insist to myself that I will write to my friend. Time drifts past, and eventually I have ten empty parcels. It is on a friday that I realise what I have to do.
With what I feel is admirable forethought I use my left hand to chop three fingers from my right. With the remaining two, I hack off all the fingers of my left hand. In considerable pain I place the fingers in eight of the parcels. There is a lot of blood, and this makes the use of cellotape difficult. With eight parcels wrapped, I hold the knife in my right thumb and forefinger. I look at the last two boxes.
As always, it is my inability to complete any task that drives me to tears.