in a parallel universe

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There’s a man writing in a notebook and his hands are scarred and discolored from years of sun allergies and intentional damage, the scratching and kneading and pulling and tearing at the skin while in slumber. There are times when his hands don’t resemble his own but his father’s, or more like the memory he has of his father’s hands, so large and commanding, so devastating, a landscape of skin dominated by long, winding wrinkles and impossibly large veins that as a child, the writer thought were fat blue worms sleeping just beneath his father’s skin. The back of the writer’s hands have a spatter of light brown hairs beneath the pinkie knuckle, and this too he remembers as a characteristic of his father’s hands, a farmer’s hands, a ball player’s hands, a god’s hands. His cuticles, the writer’s, are dry and white with hardly any pale crescent lunula at the bottom, and the nails, carefully and frequently shorn so that very little white exists at the free edge beyond the fingertip, are deeply ridged in parallel vertical lines. He works with his mind but his hands are responsible for the effects of his work: elucidation, translation, illustration. The insides of his hands (the palms), are deeply seamed with wrinkles (age, use) and hard, gelatinous callouses like yellow patches at the base of each finger. It amazes him, his hand. He wonders what his hands say to others about him. There is a purpose for everything on this planet, he thinks, and thus writes. He feels that he is a failure, this man, and that he is forever damned to failure. Perhaps his hands will save him, they’ll claw their way up from the premature grave of the writer’s design, they’ll brush the clumps and grains of moist earth from his body.

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