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Monday, April 22, 2013

"Hold My Wrinkles"--Revised Short Fiction

 Geriatric hospital. I remember that. But him?
"Hold my hand," he breathes.
The sagging skin on my forearm flaps as I raise the claw Time left me. Blotchy flesh-colors clash with the bedsheet's white. What is his name?! My thin voice stings my ears, so I whisper:
"I don't have a hand. I just have wrinkles."
His eyes glisten. He chokes: "You have a beautiful hand. That hand saved lives."
"And struck children, and broke wedding vows, and--" Whine, whine. Instead of my sonorous alto I hear a demoness screeching accusations. Heart-palpitations rock my thin chest. Everything trembles. "And let babies die, and--"
This is a panic attack.
I catalogue the fact. That's all I can do. Rant.
"I don't want to die!" The scream ends in hacking sobs, but dried-out eyes can't make tears. I hate this self. I catalogue that, too.
"Please hold my hand," he croaks.
"I don't have a hand!"
"I do."
I look at his hand, sprawling oversized on his forearm like a cartoon. I remember his muscles used to flex, round and fertile like South America, but I can't remember his name. Sixty years married, but no name. Pathetic. My chest aches; I finally feel tears. My nose runs--I knew he can see.
"It's okay, Jen."
"My wrinkles, he won't take these wrinkles...and I forgot again," I squeaked.
"I'm Brian. I'll hold your wrinkles."
I sigh. "Brian."
"Can I hold your pretty hand now?"
I nod.
He takes my hand.