My mother says, My hands know everything. They sense---they cannot
smell, they cannot taste---but they sense any sort of difference. They know.
She pretends to talk to me but she is actually thinking aloud: when
he returns at night, there is something different. His shirt is softer.
Not the rumpled texture, but fresh, as if it has been washed and ironed.
The weave is different too, I think. And your father's skin is softer, like
yours. As if he has taken a long bath. When he leaves in the morning,
I take him by the waist and I am startled. He is much thinner.
There is scarcely anything to hold. He smiles. Have you seen such a smile?
What do you think of his smile? Isn't it like a sliver of metal?
And he sometimes laughs--when I ask him why, he just smiles.
It's not a kind smile. He has a secret.
Like this sort of secret? I ask her, cupping my hands together.
She puts my hands in hers, pressing the fingers and then she lifts me onto
her lap. She puts my hands on her temple as if to feel for bumps.
Jonnah, can you feel anything? I get these odd little headaches in the
morning. They sit there, in the back of my neck. Twinges. I feel as though
his smile has cut me in the head. I feel like I have his aluminium embedded
in my skull. Can you find it for me? Can you pull it out for me with your
two cat hands?
All night I am sifting my fingers in her hair. And then, once, I think I
feel something very sharp, like a horn. I have found it.
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