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These Hands of Mine

By , Memphis, TN
Hands enter the world for the first time. Hands curl around Mother's finger; hands are just perfect. Hands are loved and kissed and held. Hands touch everything they can; they smear mud and food and "who knows what" on her face. Hands are swung up high into the air by Dada. Dada eventually becomes Daddy, and Daddy holds these hands as he takes her to her first baseball game. Hands wipe ketchup-stained fingers on her shirt. Hands throw things to further dramatize a temper tantrum; hands hide the keys. Hands hold Mom's hands as they go to tea with all the dolls. Hands clumsily form letters for the first time; hands are frustrated. Hands slowly grow. They trace words as she reads; they grasp a crayon and draw family and butterflies and hearts that will hang proudly on the fridge. Hands lay Grandma's favorite flowers on the ground. Hands tentatively touch a cold, wrinkled forehead. Hands don't bother to wipe away the tears that stain her face.

Hands stuff a 9th birthday cake into her mouth. Hands discover books; hands really discover books. They lug them home from the library and turn the pages faster than Mom can blink. Hands become addicted to the feel of creamy white paper, to opening a book for the first time. Hands steal a Snickers bar from the store just because. Hands try to find a book whenever Mom and Dad start fighting, but the detectives and adventures and mystery don't quite block out the noise. Hands throw an unopened Snickers bar in the trash. Hands are always moving. Hands draw and paint and create art. Hands spend late nights furiously scribbling in a small purple notebook; hands spend more nights turning pages from the dim light of the desk lamp. Hands slowly wave good-bye to Dad. Hands dig out forgotten picture books. Hands push away other hands; hands slam the door. Hands pull the covers over her face as she lies next to Mom in the bed. Hands stuff popcorn in her face; hands hold other hands. Hands fist pump when the Cardinals win. Hands tentatively draw a razor blade across the taut skin of her ankle. Hands try to frantically wipe away the crimson blood that spills out. Hands are ashamed; hands try to cover their sin. Hands dial Dad's number; hands drive to see him. Hands throw away a small purple notebook. Hands put a death metal album that she's never heard of in the CD player, but the loud music doesn't block everything out. It just hurts her ears. Hands buy razors again; hands shave because she's got a date that night. Hands cramp up after spending long days typing at the computer. Hands are perpetually stained with pen marks and paint. Hands open an acceptance letter to a summer writing program; hands are victorious.

Hands are frustrated; hands tear up first and second and third drafts. Hands take up piano. Hands frame a first draft covered with red marks. Hands draw just for the sake of drawing; hands draw for herself. Hand type furiously away at the computer. Hands delete certain parts; hands don't want to reveal a part of her soul to the world. Hands know they'll regret writing this; hands involuntarily type it anyway. (Stupid, stupid, stupid.) Hands slowly click the print button and mail the manuscript off.

Hands have a whole life left to create and sculpt and live. Hands will throw away notebooks and drawings, but hands will never stop moving. And one day, hands will grow so very cold and pale and still, but the art will remain. It always does.

Hands enter the world for the first time; hands start creating her identity.





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