The Axe Attack


My brother and I had been fighting for days, over what exactly I can’t remember, but it would be over something that I wanted that he wouldn’t let me have. I screamed at him whilst he taunted me. We had moved from the backyard into the garage. My Dad must have been out as the car was not there. My rage was building to a point where I felt I was going to  explode. My face felt hot and red, then suddenly, blood draining away a white rage took over. I picked up the axe which was lying against the garage wall, raised it as far as my seven-year old strength would allow me and brought it down on my brother’s toe.

Blood gushed in volumes from the wound. My brother screamed “You’ve cut my toe off.” My mother came running and bundled her beloved son in her arms and carried him into the house.

“Irene, go to the courtyard and stay there” my mother commanded as she left. The courtyard was a cement slab between the garage and the house. We didn’t use it for anything so it was bare of even a chair to sit on. Certainly there were no toys to play with and I was a child who was easily bored. 

I don’t know what happened to my brother in the house. After an incredibly long time my mother came out to me, hairbrush in hand and I knew punishment was close at hand. Worse though, I was not permitted out of the courtyard for the rest of the afternoon. My loneliness was immense. I stood on my tip-toes at the door and stared, watching for any activity; attempting to remind them that I existed, being worried that as I was no longer loved I would soon be forgotten.


Truth in Memoir

The beauty of memoir is that your memory is your truth as long as you stay true to your memory. It is unlikely that any two people will have the same memory of an event. This becomes clear when comparing eye-witness  statements.

This is the case in the above story. My mother has absolutely no recollection of this incident at all. My brother has only a vague memory of it. Where I thought I’d cut his toe off, the injury was obviously insignificant and forgettable. Does this make my memory invalid? I would argue that it does not. I have ownership of my memory and my memory is my reality. Does this therefore make a memoir sit somewhere between fiction and non-fiction?

About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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10 Responses to The Axe Attack

  1. Reblogged this on Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist) and commented:

    For Throwback Thursday I am reblogging the axe attack. My brother’s response is in the comments section.


  2. My brother’s response to reading this post – My memory of the axe attack: the axe was leaning against the wall, blade down. We were shoving each other around in the garage and you pushed me. I stepped or my foot came down so the blade of the axe cut my big toe (a little). I made a really big deal out of it – which may be why you remember being a wannabee axe murderer. well that is my recollection, likely no closer to the truth than yours. What is the truth, does it exist anywhere out there, or just in our heads?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. noelleg44 says:

    Funny that you and your brother have such different memories. Maybe the shock of it all? It seems if you spent the afternoon in the courtyard that something you did caused it. I’m glad your brother didn’t suffer any permanent injuries.
    My brother remembers in GREAT detail all of the set tos we had – I’d say we came out even in the scars!


  4. Charli Mills says:

    How interesting that you remember it as an attack and he as a stumble. Memory is certainly a mystery, but as you pint out, if you stick to how you remember it, that is your truth even if it differs from your brother’s recollection. My husband is good at recalling details, like faces and other visual clues, and I am good at recalling the emotion of the event. We never really contradict each other and sometimes I think we get a fuller memory when we share it. But not always. He also remembers things that I don’t even recall happened (guess there was no significant emotion to make it stick)!


    • I think that is exactly it. The emotion is what you remember and the strength of that emotion can embellish the memory or make it totally forgettable. I think the punishment received here made it seem as though I had done some horrendous deed (and my brother admits to hyping up his response to what in reality was a minor injury.)


  5. la_lasciata says:

    Yes. Although you’re writing about something that happened a fair while ago, and in mine I wrote of events less distant, I feel sure that Stringer’s version of some events might well have been different from mine.
    It is, as you say, Irene, the writer’s truth.

    Liked by 1 person

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