The Woman Without Fingers [Repost]

This is an old piece/series of fragments, written over the years between 2015-2018. It was going to be a part of my MFA portfolio, before I realised it didn’t fit in anywhere.

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The woman without fingers lives in a house full of doorknobs demanding to be turned. This is a demand she cannot live up to, so she sits in an armchair behind a closed door, waiting for a gust of air to come. The woman without fingers spends most of her time waiting for her condition – being fingerless – to pass.

The woman without fingers hides her lack of fingers from others for as long as she possibly can – some people have known her for years and have yet to notice.

The woman without fingers wasn’t always fingerless, though she cannot be sure of this. The woman without fingers assumes that her recollections of a childhood of full of grabbing, of holding, of creating, are accurate, but she doesn’t know how to be certain.

The woman without fingers cannot plug her ears to keep the world from coming in through the vulnerable holes.

The woman without fingers cannot scratch.

The woman without fingers cannot twirl her hair while flirting.

The woman without fingers cannot make a fist.

The woman without fingers feels divided in so many ways she doesn’t know how to contend with the idea of wholeness. She looks at an orange on her kitchen counter and thinks only of the segments under the skin, and the cells composing each segment, containing its juice.

If she can help it, the woman without fingers avoids eating in public. The woman without fingers drinks with both palms flat against her glass, taking tiny rodent sips.

The woman without fingers doesn’t think she understands her body, the way it functions, the effect it has on others.

When she is scared, the woman without fingers cannot squeeze your hand. The woman without fingers cannot retrace the path of a tear along your cheek.

The woman without fingers cannot not pluck sad songs from guitar strings.

When the woman without fingers sits too long with too little to do, she begins to take herself apart. This only reduces her body further and must be avoided at all cost.

The woman without fingers lies about her age.

The woman without fingers cannot hold a cigarette. When standing next to a bus stop, she takes sharp breaths, sucking other people’s smoke straight from the air. 

The woman without fingers cannot hold a pen or press madly into a keyboard. 

The woman without fingers cannot play an instrument, and she doesn’t like her singing voice. The woman without fingers relies on her mind, nothing but her mind, to keep alive the thoughts that matter.

The woman without fingers cannot masturbate. This is fine. The woman without fingers has a body without needs.

The woman without fingers is capable of feeing jealous of anything at all: a potted plant, a tambourine, a person on the bus, the colour pink, the sound of clinking glass.

The woman without fingers sees other women paint their nails, open packs of gum, and it makes her eyelids twitch.

The woman without fingers comes from crafty, dexterous stock. Her grandfather, whom she barely knew, was a surgeon. 

Sometimes, the woman without fingers forgets that she is fingerless. The world looks very different then.

The woman without fingers was once complimented on the firmness of her handshake. The woman without fingers has never broken a bone.

The woman without fingers knows where her weakness lies: in the fear of what will happen if she fails to please, to read the code of expectation.

The woman without fingers cannot trace your path on a timeline or a map and point to the place or time that holds you away from her. The woman without fingers is often distraught, in a wordless sort of way.

The woman without fingers finds herself falling for writers and paintbrush wielders, saxophone players and those who can rewire a car, for crafty types, for cooks, for those with confidence in their steady hands.

The woman without fingers cannot tie her shoes. She likes to be barefoot in the summer. 

When knocking on doors, the woman without fingers is all knuckles. The woman without fingers cannot conceive of a world without violence.

The woman without fingers has dreams in which a version of herself is endowed with fingers: sometimes only one or two, sometimes all ten, and sometimes with fingers sprouting from all parts of her body. A whole body ceaselessly touching, fumbling, groping, feeling, wanting. 

The woman without fingers wakes from those dreams in a good mood but with heavy eyelids and a strong taste for coffee.

The woman without fingers cannot wear fake nails and pretend to be a ditz. The woman without fingers cannot deal with switches. The woman without fingers cannot swipe a credit card.

The woman without fingers has friends who think she’s well-adjusted because, unlike her friends, she is never seen picking at her skin or body hair.

The woman without fingers has never popped a pimple.

The woman without fingers never draws her curtains. 

The woman without fingers likes clothing to be easy, without detail beyond the necessary. 

The woman without fingers prefers to be alone, away from the expectations other people carry, and this tendency feels dangerous, like self-inflicted doom.

The woman without fingers cannot cling to your ankles in the doorway and beg you not to leave.

The woman without fingers has never stroked the needles in a sewing kit to the point of drawing blood from underneath the skin.

The woman without fingers cannot dial her parents’ number to tell them she’s okay.

The woman without fingers never rings the doorbell. The woman without fingers doesn’t wear anything with buttons. The woman without fingers talks to herself out loud.

The woman without fingers has no fingerprints and cannot say she feels unique. The woman without fingers has never been accused of shoplifting.

The woman without fingers has let herself be held by people who promised to love her and never did. The woman without fingers knows it’s easier to imagine something’s absence than to face the fact that it has fallen short.

The woman without fingers knows that the wind in the curtain belongs to the curtain. The woman without fingers likes to sleep alone.

The woman without fingers cannot make herself throw up.

When the woman without fingers laughs, joy pours from her throat unstopped. Like everyone else, the woman without fingers sometimes feels the weight of loneliness.

The woman without fingers cannot mend what’s ripped or broken. The woman without fingers knows a person’s range of motion is significantly diminished by perfection.

The woman without fingers will never cease to learn.

Bruno Munari, Futurist, 1931
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