Agates on the palms of her hands
October 21, 2018 - 10:00 p.m.






The burn feels cold before it feels hot. I know I've done something deep and bad, but there's no one nearby to take over my task, and the propmaster is standing just outside.

The burning radiates from my hand like alarm bells.

Shut up! Shut up! I want to yell at my body. I know I burned myself! Just calm down!

But it doesn't, and the propmaster is waiting. I finish my task in a fury and hand off the props.

My coworker finally returns from her task.

"Whew," she says. "What a rush."

"I burned myself," I tell her. "Sonofabitch."

I go hang out in the bathroom for a while, running my hand under the tepid water. The taps are spring loaded, since we obviously can't be trusted to turn them off manually, so I have to hold it down while I cool my hand.

I inspect it in the dim light. (Why are so many lightbulbs burned out?)

The meaty part of my palm, just under my pinky finger, is swollen. Proper swollen. I've never seen a burn trigger a swelling like that before. The skin looks dead and white, and has split away from my hand. There is a ring of red around the burn.

I put it back under the water.

The first aid attendant has already gone home, and locked the door to the first aid supplies.

Later, someone rustles up some antibiotic cream for me that expired in 2014.

I finish my day with my hand wrapped around a cold can of sparkling water.


I dream.

"Oh," he says. It's the coworker I have that I've carried a flame for for years. He is quiet, but talented. His hair is slate grey now, but his eyes are chips of blue glass, and when he looks at you, he really SEES you.

"Oh, hello."

We're on a job site. Why are we working together? We're not usually in the same department.

Dream logic, I suppose.

He looks awkward. I feel awkward.

"When did you get back?" he asks. From England, I suppose.

I tell him.

"You know," he says. "I had a real thing for you. Before. But then you left. And I met someone else, and I married her."

"Oh," I say. What else is there to say in a situation like that?

I meet his wife. She's a horrible woman.

I second guess myself, there in my dream.


The burn blisters the next day, and the swelling goes down.

The blister is hard and yellow, and the shape of south america.

I rub it gently with my thumb. It feels like an agate under my skin.

I work hard at not popping it.

I hear you, body. I hear your alarms. I won't mess with your systems.

It makes driving difficult.