At the end of the day he hung the hand on the wall and went about cooking his dinner in his shanty that sat on the side of the hill facing the river where the ferries passed in single file like ducks after their mother. He spent his days(more) fishing the river, his nights often turning into long stretches of doing little aside from tracing the patterns on the wooden slats of walls and listening to the coyotes in the hills.
He caught trout, mostly. Not much else swam in the river except for long parades of garbage that meandered their way downstream from the city. He pulled them out when he could, fuel for the cold, but often times he watched them flow past and down into the curves and the invisible distance. It never seemed to get hung up on the vegetation, and the few times it did proved to be his only moments of frustration.
In the early mornings, when the sun tried its best to penetrate the heavy fog that set in on the river he sat riverside with his fishing rod; casting and recasting until he managed to gather his catch for the day. It was the mornings he cherished, those quiet hours where even the birds were silent and the only sound was the subtle rushing of the river.
The people in town, as they marched to and from work talked about him in hushed tones whenever he decided to take the journey up the road. Hermit, bum, lazy-ass, all words he could agree with, but these people to him were nothing compared to watching the sun lay hands gently on the high canopies of the trees and hearing the woods slowly come to life in the growing warmth.
I doubted I would. Too hard, too clumsy, varnished and cool, too close to what it should be, uncanny. As he wrapped this... thing around me, left it on the small of my back, I could feel the dissociation he must(more), the ghost sensations of missing what the blood screams should be there.
When his hand used to cup me, it filled in the curves and slopes, running over me softly, compromising and bending around muscles and hips like a ballet across my skin. Now, this block prodded me awkwardly, hurting. It dug too deep into my ribs and felt foreign when grazed my ass, like a stranger on the subway.
His other hand, his good one, tried to compensate, but I couldn't ignore this brick running across my body. I knew he was as conscious as I was of this unfamiliar thing, this uninvited invader pressed into our lives.
I didn't know whether to stop him or press on, grudgingly, try not to embarrass him. He told me once that I can be aloof, hard to connect with. I knew he needed me now, but I couldn't shake the feeling of otherness. This thing wasn't welcome here.
"I'm sorry..." I whispered.
He froze, flinched.
"Can we just try..."
I tried to be kind.
"Yeah," he said.
"Okay," I said. He shuffled into the bathroom and closed the door. He took too long, so I spoke.
"I'm sorry," I called out. No answer, so I walked to the door and knocked.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah," he finally said. "It's just so weird."
"I know. I love you."
He opened the door. His shirtsleeve hung too long from his arm. But he wrapped me up in his arms, and we were okay.(less)
My father was an authoritarian. He ruled the roost. It was his way or you got a beating. He was an old fashioned man, as well as an old man. I was born when he was already in his late forties. We were practically two generations apart. I never met my actual (more)grandparents as they were dead by the time I discovered what they would have been.
He was a carpenter by trade. And that was all he knew. Trades. I wanted to be more than someone who toiled and earned his money through sweat. "It's good honest work." He would say. He would wear his scars and soiled clothes like badges of honour. He was a real working class hero.
I wanted more.
That made me a traitor and a judas. I know they are synonymous but they always went together when uttered by my father. I wanted to go to college and study. I really had no preference on what I studied. I wanted to earn my crust (another of his favourites) using my mind and my intellect.
My mother was the constant referee. She persuaded him to allow me to go. She hammered the final nail in the coffin of our relationship.
Whenever I came home to visit, my father would make himself scarce. Over meals he seemed to be on permanent alert. Anything that could be even remotely twisted into sounding like I was acting superior was pounced on. I would argue that I wasn't saying anything of the sort. But it made no difference. I was one of the enemy he spent his life fighting against.
Clearing out his old workshop which holds neither remorse nor fond memories, I keep nothing.
Except for the wooden hand. The one he made to beat me with.
There is a wooden hand slipping into my heart. It's his. He whispers that he loves everything about me and I feel pin-pricks of tears curling around my eyes. I did not know, I did not know that happiness like this exists.
(more) So let's wrap our bodies into one and gasp as we make love time and time again. Let's hold each other from today to the rest of our lives. I am yours yours yours.
How does one describe this kind of love? How could one ever explain how two hearts can be tied together and how his breath gets me drunk like the oracle predicting the future in a cave in Delphi. How could I ever convey that he is the softest, kindest, best thing to ever come into my life and I'm not sure I was even alive until I met him.
There are not enough words in the cosmos. But I will keep writing them, keep hoping that the liquid love can seep out of my heart drop by drop until no more words exist.
I can't even imagine a world in which my soul and his never found one another. I can't imagine inhabiting a body that he didn't touch. I can't fucking imagine a life without his kind eyes looking over me with love, a warmth that climbs deep into my body and my soul and leaves me safe and warm and loved beyond belief.
Now instead of dreaming of blood and gore and ugly wounds I daydream of marrying him in a white dress, I dream of wedding rings and cherub-like babies who know just what love is, who feel support in their every cell because their parents love them and love each other, because they breathe in love like it is oxygen.(less)
"So you're working on a project for woodshop? That's so cool. What is it?"
"It's a hand," said Annie. She held up a block of wood. It was balsa wood, Annie's personal favorite. Lightweight and perfect for all kinds of projects. She had been very passionate about wood(more) ever since her grandfather had shown her his many creations. He had since passed away, but she liked to think there was a part of him still alive in her. When she woodworked, she felt like he was still there.
"It doesn't look like a hand," said Josh. Josh just didn't understand wood like Annie did. He even made perverted jokes about it sometimes. She put up with it because he was her friend, but occasionally she would wonder why she ever bothered. Now was one of those times.
"It's not one," she said. "Yet."
"Does it represent, like, the human condition?" Josh asked, comparing his hand and the block of wood.
"What? No," said Annie. "It's just a wooden hand."
Josh giggled, and then chuckled, and then full-out guffawed. He was too busy laughing to explain this strange action, but that didn't stop Annie from asking "What?"
He composed himself as best he could. "Does anyone--" He burst out laughing again. Annie stared and asked herself why she was friends with such an idiot. "You know, make wooden-- you know!"
"What?!" she asked, becoming more frustrated by the second.
"Junk! Privates! Genitalia! Come on, don't tell me you haven't thought of it! How freaking great would that be?"
Annie did not smile. She did not giggle, much less guffaw. Josh was so immature. "Oh my gosh, I'm leaving," she said as she gathered her things.
"Have fun playing with your wood!" Josh called after her.(less)