5. Mama

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My mother removed my hand to save my life, and they killed her for it. 

That's what Bill tells me. That's the part I can't remember.

The fever that had entered through my hand was getting worse, and she knew she had to do it. So with Bill's help, and a knife she pulled from the fire in our next camp, she cut my hand off. 

I don't ask Bill about the details. I don't ask him if I was awake. I don't ask him what her face looked like as she did it. I don't ask him who held me down, although he was her only helper. 

The other men found out quickly enough. Bill and Mama weren't able to muffle my screams enough to hide it, even a few dozen meters from the main camp. Angry that they would no longer get the bonus afforded to the raiders who brought Joe child brides, they turned on mama. 

Bill couldn't back her up. He couldn't save her.

He was too busy trying to save me.

He was doing as she asked.

I will still never forgive him for it.

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