She didn't notice when the bleeding started.
Okay, that's not right. Of course she noticed. She just didn't worry.
One day she looked down at her pinky and saw blood. She figured she must have gotten a paper cut or a scratch or something and just not noticed. She washed her hands and waited for the sting that would let her know where the cut was. There was no sting. Odd. But not really, she had a really high pain threshold. The blood rinsed down the drain in a swirl of red to pink. She looked at her finger and couldn't see anything wrong so she went on with her day. And forgot about it. Mostly.
Until a few days later when it happened again. This time while she was washing the blood away she noticed the corner of her fingernail was loose. Well that explained the bleeding. She had damaged her nail bed somehow and must keep catching the fingernail on things reopening the wound. It still didn't didn't hurt, not one bit. Not when she lifted it, not when she pressed it back down, not when she trimmed off the loose edge to keep it from catching. No pain at all. And no more bleeding after she rinsed it off.
Until a few days later. Then there was a lot more blood. This time the whole nail came off while she washed her hands. Just peeled away and floated in the sink. She guessed it was time for the doctor.
Dr. Google told her it was nothing to worry about, she had just caused some trauma to the nail bed and the nail would grow back. Which was a huge relief. Until Dr. Google told her that it was obviously skin cancer. Wasn't that always the way with Dr. Google? It was either all okay, or it was cancer. So she called her real life doctor and made an appointment.
"No pain at all?"
"Nope. I mean I can feel that you are pressing on it, and it feels a little weird since it's skin now instead of a fingernail, but there is no pain."
"And the bleeding..."
"Yeah, I would notice it was bleeding and as soon as I rinsed it away it would stop. Even when the nail came loose completely there was no extra blood."
"Hmm...I'm going to run some tests and look at your white cell count, and I'm going to take a skin sample and check for a fungal infection. I don't think that's it because you don't seem to have any of the traditional symptoms with that but basically I'm going to rule things out until we can find what this is."
"So you're stumped?"
"For now. Let's go ahead and do a quick body scan while you are here and make sure you don't have any other areas with unidentified wounds." Her doctor open a drawer in the bottom of the examining table and pulled out a dressing gown. "I'll step out so you can slip this on."
She slipped out of her shoes and stared at her feet. The left sock was soaked in blood. Well that couldn't be good. She finished undressing and left the bloody sock on for her doctor to look at. Since there was no pain she could only imagine that when she took the sock off there would be a loose toenail as well.
Which is sort of what happened.
Her doctor came back in the room and stopped, "I take it that foot wasn't bleeding earlier?"
"Nope, I had no idea it was at all until I slipped off my shoe. I figured I would leave it alone until you came back in so you could see what I meant." She slipped her sock off and her foot was covered in blood. It had to have all come from the pinky toe. Or where her pinky toe had been this morning when she had put her socks on. She turned the sock inside out and PLOP out dropped the tiny little toe. Fresh nail polish from her last pedicure still perfectly in place.
Her doctor paled. "Well that's not good, is it?"
"I wouldn't think so but you're the doctor so you tell me." She tried to joke but this was surely something bad now, when your doctor loses her poker face it's never a good sign. The lack of feeling still made it seem unreal. But her toe was definitely not attached to her foot anymore.
She was admitted to the hospital that day.
There were a lot of test. Leprosy being the first concern even though she didn't have any of the lesions typically associated with the disease. Just when body parts start dropping off people leap to leprosy. Leaping Leprosy! She laughed out loud at her own joke. Which made everyone stare at her. A friendly nurse said something about the painkillers making her loopy before realizing she wasn't on any. There was no need. Even though the toe was gone, or technically, toes; she had lost another one at some point during the admissions procedures, she felt no pain.
The tested her blood sugar. Diabetic necrosis maybe? Nope. No trace at all of diabetes. Not that they really thought there would be. Losing a toe isn't the normal first sign, after all. Screens and more screens. Her white blood cell count was normal. No signs of infection. She was a little anemic, but with all the random bleeding that seemed logical.
Logical. Parts of her body were falling off and she was still looking for the logical things.
She called her father, he was a worrier so she debated making the call. Her mother had been out of their lives since she was a very small child so it was just the two of them. He had been a helicopter parent since before there was even a term for it. But she knew if she didn't call he would be furious. Especially since she had just lost the pointer finger of her right hand. "First off, I'm fine so don't worry, but I'm in the hospital."
"I don't know what is wrong. They are running tests."
"I had some unexplained bleeding."
"Four so far...Wait...why would you even ask that?"
"Wait, don't hang up! I want you to talk to the doc...."
Her father had shouted he was on his way and had hung up the phone. But not before asking her how many body parts she had lost. So apparently this wasn't a completely unique situation.
More doctors came in and examined her. An entire cadre of medical students was ushered in at one point. Her symptoms presented to them like a test. She shouted out, "It's lupus!" and got a round of laughter. Apparently House was a favorite among these kids too. But nobody really had any good ideas. So more blood was drawn, more poking, more questions. And she waited for her father.
He got there the next morning.
"How was your flight?"
"I drove. I thought it would be just as fast since I could leave right then. And this way I can stay. I should have never let you move out here in the first place. I should have kept you with me."
Every discussion with her father started the same way. No matter what else was going on it was always about her leaving first then whatever else was going on next. "First off, you didn't let me do anything. Growing up and moving out is what people do, Dad. But more importantly, why did you ask about losing body parts? That's not a normal thing to ask. Has it happened to you? Do you know what causes it?"
Her doctor came in to the room at that point. "Dr. Addison, this is my father, Dad, Dr. Addison. I think he has some information that could be helpful."
Her father reached out to shake Dr. Addison's hand. "Nice to meet you. I...well..."
"Nice to meet you as well, I wish it were under different circumstances. I must say your daughter is an amazing woman. I have never seen a patient hold themselves together so well under such trying circumstances."
At this her father burst out in to tears."I should be the one holding her together! She should be with me!"
Dr. Addison reach out and patted him on the shoulder. "I know, it's so difficult when our children..."
"NO!" Her father yelled and stepped about from the doctor, "Do not comfort me. This is my fault. When her mother fell apart I should have been firmer about her staying close to me. I knew it was a risk and yet I let her leave..."
"Dad...you are not responsible for Mom and you are not responsible for me either. I'm sorry, Dr. Addison, my mother had a break down when I was a small child and left us all alone. My father has always felt guilty that I didn't have a mother. I never blamed him, she is the one who left, but he has always carried that burden. I'm afraid my getting sick is bringing out a lot of old issues."
"NO! This is my fault. I should have cleared up the misunderstanding when you were younger but it was so much easier not to. So much better..."
"When I told you that your mother fell apart I meant that she fell apart. She. Fell. Apart. It wasn't a breakdown, she didn't leave you voluntarily, she fell apart. I made a mistake and she fell apart."
Dr. Addison looked puzzled, "Are you saying that your wife had these same symptoms? Do you know what caused them?"
He shook his head.
"You don't know?"
Tears started streaming down his face and he shook his head again. "I did it. I made a mistake. I shouldn't have given in to her, but I loved her. What else could I do? She made me so happy. She only wanted one thing and how could I, of all people, deny her that one thing?"
"I'm sorry, sir, but I don't understand. What do you mean you did it? Was it a virus?"
He shook his head again. "No, it was a child. She wanted a child. I let her make a child. Let us make a child. I shouldn't have...I knew it wasn't right...but I had no idea...."
She watched her father crying and the doctor struggling to understand what he was saying. "Dad? What are you trying to say? Make a child? Do you mean me? Was Mom too sick to have children?"
He shook his head again and the tears came even harder. "No...she wasn't sick. She was whole. She was just the way I had dreamed her to be. But I let her have too much freedom. I shouldn't have. My mentor told me it was a mistake, he told me that a Golem is only as weak as their Master is strong, and I was too weak for her. She was too strong for me. But what we did, it wasn't...it wasn't...she didn't have enough to give to a child and keep for herself and so she fell apart. She couldn't hold herself together. She tried..."
Dr. Addison stepped out of the room at this point. No doubt going to call for a psych evaluation for her father. A month ago she would have thought the same thing. But now? Four, oh wait, is that another finger gone? Five, body parts later? She thought she finally understood. Things from her childhood finally made sense. The complete lack of baby pictures, it was as if she had come in to being at age 4. The way her brain worked differently than everyone else's. Just always a little detached. Examining a situation as much as experiencing it. And her father's insistence that she always stay with him? The constant hovering. The perpetual worry. "That's why I don't really feel things, isn't it? I mean when I fell and broke my arm in 6th grade everyone thought I was so brave, but I really couldn't feel the pain. The doctors were amazed but I really didn't hurt. And that's why I don't bleed much isn't it? You made me. I'm half Mom and half you, right? I'm not human. Not all of me."
He bowed his head and put his face in his hands.
"Dad? Look at me. Can you fix this?"
He kept his head down.
"Dad? Look at me. Dad. Seriously, look at me."
He finally raised his head to meet her gaze. "Dad? Can you fix this?"
"No....it's too late. Once the binding wears off it's just time. I was afraid after your mother fell apart that you would follow immediately, but you lasted...lived...so then I thought you would live as long as I did. But I should never have let you leave me. I should never have trusted that distance wouldn't matter. I should have..."
She smiled and reached for her father, "You weren't strong enough to control my mother, and I'm sorry but I am my mother's child so you didn't stand a chance."
He started to cry again.
"Dad, you need to leave. Dr. Addison heard you talking about golems and is going to try and get you committed. You know that right? You need to leave now."
He didn't. He stayed by her side. It was the least he could do. It was what he had done for her mother. It took a week. In the end she was in quarantine and there were no more tests. She just fell apart, piece by piece until there was no more of her left.
And when she was gone he fell apart as well.