Hands

© Lucila De Avila Castilho | Dreamstime Stock Photos

His cuticles were torn, just like mine.  Rough and callused around the edges, his fingernails were yellowing with years of hard labor.  Dirt looked like it was permanently stuck in the wrinkles along the back ridges of his knuckles, pounded into the dry crevices.  There was a scar along his right palm, a gash he had earned digging ditches in Norris.  He couldn’t afford to get it properly looked at, at the time and he didn’t like attention being drawn his way, so it never quite healed properly.  Stretching from the flesh just below his thumb and into the gap between his pinky and ring fingers, the long white disfigurement was a constant reminder of the life he led that I knew nothing about.  A life that stretched beyond the horizon, a life that required him to wake well before dawn so he could be on his way, traveling northeast toward Norris where the dam was being built.

I watched that hand many times, studied it.  Saw the freckles that formed a clump just beyond his wrist.  Seven freckles in the same formation as the seven sisters, and just like the Pleiades, one shone of a slightly lighter color than the others.  Saw the veins that snaked along the top, allowing life to course through him.  Saw the black stain underneath his discolored nail, a sign that blood had pooled there and never had a chance to escape.  Saw the way his hand fit so lightly over mine, almost as if one was made to hold the other.  I saw how he cared for me; maybe at one time he even loved me.  But no matter how hard I tried, when I looked at them, I never saw loving hands.

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