by Alison Bullock
“If my severed hand were to wash up on shore, would you recognize it?” I asked. A simple question. We were sitting under my beach house portico, sipping martinis, and watching the tide roll in.
For the record, I would have recognized his severed hand any day of the week. His olive-toned skin, that white thread of a scar that swims across his thumb like a tapeworm. Even if that hand brined in seawater for weeks– even after bacterial bloating set in, or crabs got involved, I’d still recognize it anywhere.
“Forget it,” I told him. “Your silence is my answer.”
“Why would that even happen?” He sputtered. Honestly, sometimes I feel like I’m talking to a toddler. I have to explain everything to him.
We’re so different– he and I, and it all comes back to hands. His pinkie finger is bent, which means that he’s lacking in communication skills, whereas mine is a ramrod. The gap between his thumb and index finger is wide, indicating a person who tends to avoid serious discussions, whereas my thumb and index finger are practically fused– almost identical to the paw of an Australian marsupial.
We are polar opposites you see; two lonely circles floating side by side, but never intersecting. A Venn Diagram that doesn’t Venn. If these were our only differences, it might be a gap worth bridging, but there’s more.
His nail beds are square, confirming that he’s more of a same-old, same-old type, whereas my nails are shovel-shaped, proving that I favor ingenuity. He’s always coffee black– no sugar, whereas you never know whether I’ll go macchiato, affogato, or lungo.
When I explained all of this to him–how it was a hopeless situation because of our hands, he tried to talk me out of it.
“But I love you,” he whinged. “What about the baby?”
He didn’t understand the pointlessness of his pleading. See, my ring and middle phalanges are far apart, which means I’m impossible to influence.
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Alison Bullock’s short fiction has appeared, or is soon to appear, in Peatsmoke, The Coachella Review, The Writing Disorder, Halfway Down the Stairs, Anti-Heroin Chic, Boston Literary Magazine, Every Day Fiction, and the Momaya Annual Review. She lives in Massachusetts.