All I can remember are the screams. My screams. And the vivid red river of blood.
Blood is the bodily fluid that is pumped around the body carrying necessary substances such as nutrients and oxygen. The only issue was, it wasn’t all inside me. A lot of it was running down my arm.
To this day, I still don’t know exactly how it happened. I just know it did. One minute I was sat with all the other kids licking my triple choc ice cream in the French sunshine and the next, chaos. Or so my mum tells me…
My mum doesn’t like to tell the story, she gets embarrassed and a little queasy as the gory details come out. I can’t say I blame her, if it hadn’t happened to me I’m sure I’d feel queasy too. But it did happen to me, it is my story and I love hearing it.
I always ask myself, why me? Out of the thousands of kids there on that day, I must have done something to single myself out. I know I was a bit of a chubber and probably looked like a good chew, but why me? Maybe I looked especially tasty or exotic with my bright orange hair, perhaps I resembled a mango or an exceptionally moreish carrot.
“Shauna, shut up. Stop bringing it up” mum whines every time I tell someone new.
I trace the fading scar on my arm and she rolls her eyes. I don’t see the issue, it’s funny, I mean not everyone can say it happened to them after all. And it’s not like I was mauled to death. In the weeks after it was perfect for show and tell, they all cringed at the stiches as I tweaked them and lifted the scar. The unhealed gaps between each loop of thread popping with every yank.
Even into secondary school it was still a great ice breaker. I’ve pretty much dropped it at uni, the scar has almost faded now.
“Oh, go on mum, tell the story, he’ll laugh I promise!”
She caves, “okay…”
Essentially it all hinged on that chocolate ice cream. Well, that’s what mum thinks. As she was there and, unlike me, old enough to remember, I guess I’ve always taken her word for it. I think maybe the poor animal was bored, pent up and in need of a release. Sadly, for me, that release just so happened to be chubby toddler arm. As the cages were opened for the safari, my ice cream was the lure. Its yellow eyes fixated and it ran over sinking its knife-like teeth deep into my tiny squishy bicep. And that’s when the screams start.
I hope he wasn’t put down. I’ve forgiven him. I’m sure it was nothing personal.
My mum finishes the story, my poor boyfriend is white in the face.
“You got bitten by a Lemur?”
I think he’s about to be sick. I just laugh.