June 24, 2024

Travel In Bali

Travel & Tour Tips

The moment I knew: his big toenail was hanging by a bloody thread, and so was our relationship | Relationships

The moment I knew: his big toenail was hanging by a bloody thread, and so was our relationship | Relationships

Visit any hotel – especially one of the rose-petals-on-white-linen variety – and you’ll find at least one couple on the verge of a breakup. They’re easy to spot at the breakfast buffet: constantly scowling, either arguing or searching for something to argue about, piling their plates as high as possible because it’s easier to eat a kilo of rubbery eggs than make polite conversation. I know this because I once went on a holiday to Bali with a boyfriend who was about to become my ex.

My then-boyfriend and I had been together for a year and a half but the relationship had never felt particularly stable. Back then, I thought this kind of uncertainty was what love was supposed to feel like. I’ve since learned that love is best when it’s cosy and dependable, exciting at times, but ultimately soothing.

One morning, our friends invited us to a nearby beach. The relief was overwhelming: other people to talk to! We threw our belongings into a tote bag and ran to our scooters. At the beginning of the trip we’d promised to always wear closed-toed shoes when riding (because we weren’t going to be those Australians in Bali) but after five days my boyfriend’s commitment had waned. He climbed aboard in a pair of Havaianas thongs, and we zipped off to meet our friends.

Getting to the “nearby beach” was a 55-minute scooter ride on what can only be described as an abandoned BMX track. We arrived caked in dust, sweat, and the odd dead bug. But despite the rocky start, the beach outing was perfect. The day was perfect. For a moment, my previous, frantic Google searches for “how to know a relationship is over” felt premature.

Later, we waved goodbye to our friends and set off home on our scooters. I turned to watch the beach disappear, but just as I’d caught sight of the water I heard rubber skid on gravel. My boyfriend yelped. He’d hit a patch of loose stones and spun out across the road. I watched him limp away from his scooter, which was lying on its side. Blood was gushing from his right foot.

That morning when I’d seen his toes wiggling out of his thongs, I said: “Are you really going to wear those?” His response? “I’ll be fine.”

But things were not fine. And I was furious.

At the bottom of the hill, a man from one of the beachside warungs met us with a plastic chair and two large bottles of Evian. He doused my boyfriend’s foot with water and we saw that the blood was coming from his big toe. The man gasped. My boyfriend gasped. I gasped (but silently because I was making a point).

His toenail was hanging by a very bloody thread. All it took was a slight flick of a water bottle, and it was all over for the toenail – and us.

We wrapped his toe in napkins and made our way back to the hotel. The blood dried on the napkins, which meant we had to rip them off to properly dress his wound. I FaceTimed my mum, an ex-nurse, for help, and as I handed him the phone I stewed over how avoidable the whole incident was.

But deep down I knew it wasn’t avoidable. Not really. If it wasn’t a bloody toe in Bali, it would have been something else.

His toenail healed, eventually. Our relationship did not.

Chloe is a writer and unskilled but enthusiastic surfer based in Naarm. She runs tall tales, a monthly newsletter, and can be found on Instagram @chloeelisabeth. This piece was written with permission from her ex-boyfriend.