Small Wounds- Ynria and Somre
"Let me look at your hand," Somre orders. I hesitate, tucking my arm reflexively behind my back. Somre frowns. "Come on, now. I'm the head physician- if there is an injury, you have to show me. That's how it works."
Uncomfortable, I hold out my hand, and Somre takes it and turns it over to look at the dirty cloth pressed against the remains of my torn fingernail. Blood has seeped through and stained the once white cloth, and it has long since dried over into a kind of glued-down mess. Somre's frown deepens. "I thought you said you were a healer's apprentice," he says.
"You should have known better than to let this happen," he reprimands. "It should have been cleaned, at the very least, even if you had no herbs with which to treat it. Even changing the bandage would have helped."
A dozen excuses burst to my mind: There was not time. It was not important. I thought I was going to die. But I don't voice them; something tells me Somre would not accept them, even if they are true. I just stand there, trying not to wince as Somre presses against the swollen, stinging mess of my finger.
"There's nothing for it, then," he says, and turns back to his table to find a pair of long, thin scissors. "This will hurt, and let it be a lesson to you. It does no good to let a small wound go untreated just because it's small. Infection from an injury like this can kill you just as surely as a sword to your neck, and do you remember that."
I steel myself for the pain Somre warned against, but it's not as bad as I expect. He is gentle despite his gruff words, and expert with his use of the scissors; in mere seconds, the wrapping has fallen loose, and Somre carefully pries the rest from the tip of my finger. It snags on the scab and rips, and begins to bleed immediately. And it stings. I want to yank my hand back, away from his unrelenting touch, but instead I just look away and keep my mind busy with counting the blades of grass poking through the bottom of the tent.
"Hold this here," Somre instructs, pressing a small, folded strip of clean cloth against the bleeding. Part of me is grateful to cut off the stinging air to the wound; the other part mourns the loss of the pure white cloth as my blood soaks in, and wonders if the loss was worth it. I take the cloth from Somre's hand and he hustles over to his table again, sorting through piles of jars until he finds the one he wants. "Salve of pine, willow, comfrey, and calendula," Somre explains. "It will not work quickly, now that you've got it in this state, but it will help." He opens the jar and swipes his finger along the side, then pulls it out to show me the faintly yellow goop. I peel back the cloth- already the bleeding has slowed- and Somre wipes a generous glop of the salve over the wound. It stings too, but in a cool, almost soothing way that is not as hard to withstand.
Somre nods to himself and takes the bloody cloth from me, wiping the excess salve off on a clean part of the cloth. He finds a thin strip of bandage and wraps it carefully around my finger, squishing the salve down into my skin as he ties it off. "Come back tomorrow to get this changed," he says. "Try not to get it wet."
I nod, mumbling a "thank you" that sounds less sincere than I mean it to. Somre waves me away, but as I turn for the door he taps the table and says, "Do not forget what I said, Edelweiss. Do not discount something just because it's small. A small injury can become infected, a small herb can save a life... a small person can change the course of history."
I look back at him in surprise, but he has turned back to his work. I leave him to it.