My mother always said I was good with my hands. She used to call me her ‘little artist’, and said I took after her father. I never met him, of course, but I could tell she missed him every time I showed her my work. I think maybe that was why she was always so proud of me. She loved anything and everything I made — from roughly cut paper hearts stuck randomly on a flimsy board, to crayon strokes haphazardly strewn across an innocent page (channeling my inner Kandinsky, I guess). They all found a spot on our refrigerator door at one point or another, and then to the inside of the pink little box she now keeps safely under her bed. She told me that my hands could only make beautiful things. I was around six or seven then, and for a while, I actually believed her.
“Look, mom, I made something.”
At fifteen, a boy held my hand for the first time. I don’t remember the hows, the whens, and the wheres; only that the magic lasted for about a minute or two. The profuse sweating of two nervous teenagers obviously got in the way, and our hands melted into a damp, entangled mess — it was simply best for both parties to let go. Over time, however, I began to get better at holding other people’s hands. I never knew it was something you could actually get better at, but I did (or so I like to think I did). Skin on skin, I learned the fine art of interlacing meaning and comfort in the spaces between my fingers, and onto the hands of another. I hold hands the same way I write my letters: honestly and ardently.
“I‘m here for you.”
When my grandmother died, I couldn’t remember what her face looked like or how her voice sounded. Instead, the only bit of memory I could conjure up was the last: holding her bony hand in mine as I felt the warmth disappear crease by crease from her withered skin, and having to gently place it back on her still chest as they rolled her away. Years have passed, and life has been constantly giving and taking since then. A few more loved ones were consumed by the earth, while others simply decided to walk out the door. I haven’t really gotten any better at letting people go, and quite frankly, I don’t think I ever will. My heart may heal over time, but my hands were always meant to hold.
Lately, however, my hands have done nothing but let everything that matters most to me slip away. But the more I struggle to keep them close to my heart, the tighter my agitated grip gets. Tighter and tighter, until shrapnels are sent flying in the air, and I am left with nothing but the broken pieces lodged deep within my skin. My fingers are red and sore from unraveling heartstrings, and combing loose ends through empty promises. The weight of my unsaid words slowly cracks open my chest, while the weight of the ones I did say cracks another’s. I look down at my hands now, and all I see are razor-sharp edges ready to cut through anything they touch. Who would want to hold these now? Mom once told me that my hands could only make beautiful things, and for a while I actually believed her. I wonder if she would still be proud of these hands now.
3:03 AM — My insomnia is obviously getting worse, and so is my writing. My words are all over the place with this one, and that’s because my mind is, too. Hoping to get back on track with my weekly writing challenge soon, though. I also signed up for a writing workshop on the 26th. I am deathly terrified and excited at the same time.