Cassandra’s Tears

Tears of joy, tears of pain, we are reflected in the salt-water pools we create. So let us build a fleet of paper boats and sail them on our ocean of indecision, laughing at the wind-whipped white-crested waves that would wash over us, drowning us in our own despair, yet somehow never vanquishing us in the end.

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Location: Lennoxville, Quebec, Canada

Monday, December 26, 2005

Take my hand

Reaching for his morning coffee, Arthur suddenly realized that the hand he observed protruding from his checked flannel shirt was not his own. Sure, it was his wrist; there was the scar he had received at age eight from the scythe in his uncle’s barn that day he and his cousin were jumping out of the hay loft. It had faded much over time, but had never totally disappeared, a lifelong reminder of a moment’s youthful recklessness. But this hand, this right hand, was a stranger’s.

The skin was pale, unfreckled; the back was hairless and the palm and fingers smooth and uncalloused. There was no obvious join, as though a mad scientist had performed vivisection on him while he slept, but the bizarreness of this discovery helped to keep Arthur from panicking. He turned the hand over, examining it closely. The nails were manicured and it was obvious that the previous bearer had never known hard labour. “A white-collar sort of hand,” Arthur thought to himself. He wondered if it played the piano or the flute, if it wielded a pen or paint brush.

It was most decidedly not his hand though, and that did concern him. He picked up his coffee mug, noting that it felt hotter than usual before attributing it to his new hand’s lack of protection in the form of thickened skin. This was not the hand of someone who hauled timber and groomed horses, split firewood and baled hay. What if the original owner of the hand wanted it back? Was Arthur obliged to keep it in the pristine condition in which he’d discovered it?

He felt a sneeze coming on and reached up his left hand, which was thankfully his own, to put a finger under his nose, when he realized suddenly that something was terribly wrong with his face. He put down his coffee and pulled the shiny chrome toaster towards himself and peered into its reflective surface. Sure enough, the nose in the middle of Arthur’s face was not the same appendage he had seen in the mirror when he was brushing his teeth the night before. Whereas it had been large and pitted, rosy from his bedtime scotch and hairy of nostril, this one was narrow, aquiline, aristocratic and unblemished. It was obvious that it went with the hand that reached up a tentative finger to prod at the shiny surface.

Suddenly Arthur burst out laughing. Sure, it was funny enough, a country bumpkin like himself suddenly sporting the body parts of an English lord, but how did that same bloke feel about having Arthur’s hairy hand and sizeable schnoz decorating his otherwise elegant form? “Poor bastard,” he thought to himself, and dismissed the mystery from his mind. There were horses to be groomed, wood to be chopped and hay to be baled. It wasn’t his problem.

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12/28/2005 3:28 AM  

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