Because I had to listen to the water boiling so it wouldn’t spill over, I forgot to use the handguard of my mandolin, lost to the rhythm of peeling chayote–epidermis–chayote, and sliced off the surface of my finger, a velvety patch flaking from stainless steel. There wasn’t enough time for me to read your message even though I felt it vibrate against my thigh–I tore along the perforations and pressed a paper towel to the pooling blood, and because the skinned area was wide but not deep, the blood seemed to gather from nowhere and everywhere and I glimpsed the layer of white-pink flesh beneath rough, sun-spotted skin. I rummaged through our first aid kit, snatching the gauze, surgical tape, and a bottle of Chinese powdered medicine to supposedly help clot blood. I didn’t end up using the medicine, part skeptical of its healing properties and part determined to rely only on my immune response and cell regenerative ability. I wrapped the gauze around my finger, not thinking about how I’d eventually have to tear it off. Finished chopping, sautéing, plating the soup and stir fry and rice. Filled up your Certified Senpai mug with water and rested a pair of mismatched metal chopsticks on your bowl. Read the message you sent about fifteen minutes ago: be back in ~15 min. The mummified finger made typing a bit difficult because even though my other fingers could move, they’d stretch the skin on the backs of my hands and elicit a screech worthy sting, rendering the elegance of Touch ID obsolete as I stumbled over passcode numbers to pick up a call. Do you want takeout? I can stop by Ippudo ramen on the way back–the wait shouldn’t be too bad since it’s already late. I said: Gauze absorbs blood like a fern and its city of roots. Didn’t say: No need to come home early, I’m still searching for a sliver of skin trapped in the drain.