Helping Hand

chicago literary map, short story

I cut off my hand this morning with an old axe I had borrowed from my neighbor. I would have chopped off both, but I didn’t see that to be physically possible without having a helper, so I kept one. Besides, I may need one hand to carry on with my daily routines.

When the doctors asked me why I had done it, I suppose I gave them the long version, but it’s really very simple—there are so many great things that can be done with just a hand. There are novels to be written, art to be painted, monuments to be built, and to be perfectly honest, for the past 26 years I have done nothing notable with mine, so I came up with the idea to give it to someone who could.

I put it on ice in the freezer before I phoned the ambulance. When they asked where the missing limb was located, I cleverly told them that my dog, Charlie, snatched it right up. In one large chomp, he devoured the meat like a chicken wing right off the bone! He then decided to bury it in the backyard, as dogs do. My story was airtight.

Upon recovering, I returned home and immediately brought my neighbor back his axe (for what kind of person would I be to belittle such a kind gesture as letting me borrow it in the first place?). When he asked about my missing limb, I confidently told him that it fell off last week; not nearly as clever as the story about Charlie, but plausible nonetheless. Once I told him this, I feel like we made a real connection, because after pausing and staring at me, my missing hand and the axe, he decided that I could keep it for myself. It’s a shame that he moved away so quickly; he was a nice fellow.

Over the next few days I thought long and hard about to whom I would give my hand. This decision is not as easy as one would think, but given the shelf life of a human hand, I knew I had to act fast, because not only did I have to decide the who, I also had to plan the deliverance of such an exotic gift.

After serious contemplation, I made up my mind. I will give the hand to my mother, for not only is she the greatest woman to walk the earth, but she gave me a whole body! It’s the least I could do. Ever since I was a child she has always complained about not having enough hands around the house, especially in the kitchen.

I went to the store and bought a large red bow. I wanted it to be such a surprise so I waited until my mother was out shopping to deliver it. Once the coast was clear, I placed the extravagant gift on the butcher-board island of her kitchen. I had made a beautiful key-tag in which I attached affectionately to the index finger. It read simply, With Love.

I hid in the bushes on the side of her house eagerly until she arrived home. I watched her as she struggled with her mere two hands to hold the grocery bags and unlock the front door. The silence was excruciatingly painful, but finally, it arrived. A boisterous, high-pitched scream came piercing through the windows of my mother’s home—I knew she’d love it.

Writer:  Linda Kaban
Image:  Shadowgraphs from Webster’s New Illustrated Dictionary
Location:  St. Charles

chicago literary map

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