Girl with All the Hands
In junior high, foured up, we staked our claims. We played soccer and baseball, we wrestled, we did track. We put our caps on between classes and passed a found skateboard between us in the halls, pushed each other to class with it, rocked our feet on it under the tables, shoved it in our backpacks and let it stick out like a flag. We arm wrestled to choose who’d buy from the vending machine. We took our shoes off on the bus, drew ourselves with Sharpies on each other’s socks.
We earned our A’s. So we told our parents, I’ll be at Eli’s.
I’ll be at Tanner’s.
I’ll be at Danny’s.
I’ll be at Eleanor’s.
When we were at the abandoned hospital instead, racing wheelchairs with squeaky wheels and sliding down the bannisters to the basement morgue, imprinting ourselves on cold dust.
At the end of eighth grade, you tagged a corner of the wall outside the West Gym with our names.
Now you’re shorter than us and your hands and feet are half of ours. We rest our arms on your shoulders and call you Papa Smurf and sometimes when you talk we make like we can’t hear you from way up here, just to get you riled. Your hair grows long and you taper at the waist and guys in our classes ask us about you, hungry guys with eyes too big for their stomachs. So, that girl Eleanor, they always start. And we always say, Nor? Nah, she’s like my sister, but we give them the number for the movie theater instead and when we tell you, you throw your head back and shove us when you laugh.
We watch them sideways if they come to your track meets. We call them stalkers and Casanovas. We bruise our knuckles on them when they say, Damn, Eleanor’s stacked!
You ogres, you tell us, but you ice where our skin’s gone raw.
We walk next to or behind you. We wait when you have track practice. We always take you home.
We say, Nor, should one of us go with you?
Nor, who even is this guy?
Nor, you’ll be cold.
At night in our cars, taking you home from anywhere, you take your shoes off in the passenger seat and turn the radio dials with your toes, your knees at your chin. You hum “Whiskey in the Jar” till you land on something you like, and Eli smiles.
He’ll draw you a comic book on lined notebook paper, slip it a few panels at a time through the vents on your locker. When we’re out, he’ll palm your back when he says, This way, Nor. He’ll hang his arm over your chair.
We’ll see him drawing on scratch paper during our Calculus final. A head on long s-curves with extra hands sprouting from each arm. We’ll have finished early, answers bubbled in neat and dark with sharp pencils, desks cleared. When the bell rings we’ll wait at the door. He’ll turn in his answers but fold the scratch paper in fours, slide it in his pocket, take it with him, the girl with all the hands.
Jayne S. Wilson’s fiction has appeared in LitMag Online and was nominated for a 2019 PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers. Find her on Twitter @thisJayneperson and online at jayneswilson.com. She lives in California.
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Art Paul Klee Public Domain