Friday, September 30, 2016


At first, it's a curious feeling of tautness in the palm of his left hand, no pain, just a sensation that the skin is being pulled towards the edges, pressured from below. He takes it for a muscle cramp, flexes his fingers a few times, goes back to his paperwork, but the sensation distracts him, slowly grows, until he surrenders, he stares at the open palm and begins rubbing it in circles with the fingers of his other hand. He probes the same spot, over and over, until the center seems to gain definition. There's something there, it seems, but what could be there? His fingers trace around and around it until he senses an edge, something hard and circular pushing the skin up bit by bit, urging itself towards the surface. He grasps around the rim of the disc, easing it upwards as it slowly releases its grip on the interior of his hand. The skin thins out, becoming translucent, and he makes out something dark beneath; his muscles relax and he lifts it out: a perfect carpet tack. There's no rust, hardly any blood, just a little red streak down the shaft. He twists it in his fingers and gazes at it in astonishment, then sets it down. He considers the blister in his palm, rubs it a few times, but already it's disappearing, there's just a bit of lingering tenderness where the hole had been. He picks up the tack again, gets up from his chair, paces the room, sits down. A few minutes later it begins again, a different spot now, closer to the thumb, a moment's work and a second tack emerges. Then there's a third, a fourth, seven or eight, he sets them down together on a window-ledge, identical, unblemished, drying in the air. Later he feels an ache in the back of his hand, he draws out a carpentry nail a good four inches long. The skin quickly closes. He sets the nail down with the rest, wondering if there will be more, but nothing happens. He stares out the window, under a grey sky autumn has arrived, a few brown leaves somersault over unmown grass.

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