Saturday, April 9, 2011

Hands - Flash Fiction A to Z Challenge

I used to hate my hands. Ugly, claw-like things, crisscrossed with blue veins and tendons which stand out like a vast exposed network of plumbing. Long fingers, spoiled by bulbous knuckles, are tipped by nails which splinter without provocation and are surrounded by bloody half-moons. I have the disgusting nervous habit of gnawing at my cuticles, and since I am nothing more than a giant throbbing nerve some days, they remain ragged and torn.

Once upon a time, I applied colour to the nails but the paint, seemingly unhappy with it's shotgun wedding, largely fled the scene, leaving behind some small fragments of itself. Jorge, who's senses magnify the miniscule and disregard the obvious, became obsessed with trying to pick off those small spots, to the exclusion of everything else, including his “work”. So I left off the polish, and good riddance.

Jorge is a one-man demolition team. He is slender and wiry, and though he's only twelve, he is tall and can have the strength of a grown man when he is intent on something. That something could be as banal as getting his shoe off and having it remain off despite the best efforts of both parents and bus driver; as chaotic as trying to clear a counter of every single item on it; or as heartbreaking as pounding his head against the lockers in an attempt to...what? Extinguish some sort of mental or physical pain? Express an emotion which cannot slip by his locked lips? There are a multitude of possibilities, and we have not gotten so far as to find a means for him to communicate with us. At least, not on every occasion.

I have learned many things here; in fact, learned at least as much, if not more, than I have been taught. How to take tasks such as washing one's hands, (which we take for granted as being a relatively simple process) and break them down into 5 or 6 individual steps. How to quietly observe another human being, decoding their eyes and their expressions and even the way that they sit, and predict with some accuracy what they will do next. To pay attention to the faintest of sounds, the smell of someone's hair, the dance of dust motes in a ray of sun. Touch.

When I enter the room, Jorge charges at me full bore, as though he will knock me from this world into the next. He has been known, on occasion, to injure someone, not out of any sort of targeted or malicious rage, but simply because he has no other outlet for whatever emotion is currently roiling his brain.

I stretch my arms out and place the palms of my hands against the sides of his head, pressing firmly. He loves that and, drawing closer, gently presses his forehead against mine. For him, it is an unusual gesture; he seldom seeks any form of physical contact. I concentrate, and I hope that in some way he can feel the warmth and the love I feel, flowing into him. That it will soothe him and give him peace of some sort. My hands are not ugly any more.

Perhaps there is something to faith healing, and the laying on of hands. For both of us.


  1. :) There is definitely something to faith healing

  2. love the detail and how you can home in on something we take for granted like hands, Li - great post.

  3. This is wonderful, Li. Beautiful writing, many fine sentences, thoughts expressed, such as, "Jorge, whose senses magnify the miniscule and disregard the obvious..." Such a succinct way to understand this person and his view of the world. A great last paragraph, a touching and Perfect ending.

  4. Beautiful, Li. A fascinating characterization of both the narrator and Jorge. Very well done!

  5. I wish I were more eloquent, there are so many words I want to express about how I feel when I read your writing. I seem to get stuck on the same few, but I mean them with all my heart. Fantastic, beautiful, touching, lovely. I hope you will put these all in a book someday and if you do, I hope you tell me, so I can buy it!! :)

  6. Li, that was really amazing! I love good descriptive writing like that, especially about a random topic. Excellent post, and you have a new follower! :-)