exercise: N 3.4 – hands on four people

exercise: N 3.4 – hands on four people


picking at fingernails
white bite marks
one spot bald of hair, sore and blushing red

His hands tap a steady rhythm on whatever surface they happen to be resting on. They flit like birds, and don’t last long in any one spot. The fingers are in constant communion with the thumb, which picks and digs at the fingernails, seeking strings of white skin like maggots, wriggling in the cuticles, digs them out until a spot of blood appears. The nails themselves are bitten-down, with white scratch marks on their surfaces, radiating out from where tooth meets keratin in a spreading spider-web crack like a brick in a window.

The fleshy spot between thumb and index on the back of his left palm is dried, blushing red and white. The hair follicles have been worn away by the forceful rubbing of his right thumb.

shapely nails, each painted individually, but chipped and worn
calloused palms, fingertips
often in a wave pattern, fingers moving/stretching

She’s got longish, shapely nails, each painted a saturated hue, individually, with a fine brush. Colours cascade across the fingers in swooping, swirling detail, patterns evolving and recurring on individual nails. The thumbnails, though, are unpainted – plain flesh, as though they were the officers and the fingernails the enlisted. Each nail, thumbs included, are worn, though, chipped around the edges, imperfectly maintained. The colours are flaking off in places – the officer cracking through the shell of the enlisted, a rite of passage – flesh tones showing through in the mosaic.

Often, she moves the fingers in a rhythmic exercise, like a wave in a baseball stadium, from pinky to index or index to pinky, each finger following the next. The motion is fluid through years of habit.

slim, vibrant, glowing colour
perfect nails, extra long, salon-done
several silver bands with tiny gemstones, six in total spanning hue of pride flag

Her hands are slim with tapered fingers, and the soft flesh glows with a vivid rosy tone. They rest easily together, seem to fold effortlessly into one loving tangle in her lap, and yet can pull apart as smoothly as two educated lovers. The nails are long and perfect, salon-produced, with crescent moons where nail meets finger as white as the heart of the sun. Their shape is geometrically perfect, to a certain scale.

Each finger but two – the ring fingers on each hand (where the spirit lives, if you buy Lynchian cosmology) – bears a slender silver ring, each with a tiny setting clutching like greedy fingers a gemstone of intricate cut. Their hues range along the pride flag rainbow, from red to violet, in established order. They glitter in the light.

supremely tiny hands, grey-green complexion
old blue tattoos running down the back of palms into fingers
nails yellow and skin peeling away from them

He’s got these tiny hands; the tendons show through draped skin. His grey-green flesh his own death shroud. Along the thin, flimsy flesh is a series of blue tattoos, hand-drawn by friends and enemies. They run in rivulets down his arm into his wrist, spread like roots across the back, following the grooves of the chicken-bone tendons inside. The lines even spiral and splash along each finger, swirling and tapering to the nails, where the skin is peeling away from the yellow-grey keratin, leaving a mucky purple like a mini oil spill at the suppurating nail.

He can move his wrists a bit, and flex the muscles of his right thumb. The fingers themselves are heavy and dead on the soft linen.

Logan Bright