Author : James Orbesen

My comfort worn wooden chair stands at attention in the city glow of a midnight rainstorm. Droplets patter, tapping on the glass of my three floor-to-ceiling windows as I sit six floors above the sidewalk and peer down at umbrellas weaving a complex choreography along the footpaths. The right hand itches incessantly towards a bottle of shoddy whiskey, three fourths gone. Cabs pull around the street corners with the peeling sizzle of rubber on wet pavement. Horns sound as one of the vehicles lifts off, hovers for a moment like an updraft caught leaf, and zooms off to higher parts of the city. I reach to scratch and feel metal.

The hand is not mine, I think, as I bring it up and hold it in front of me. It was manufactured in bulk somewhere, shipped from wherever and shoved into my empty stump after my hand was chopped clean off. It itches less now that I look at the sleek blue steel contours. The fingers click and clank as I move them up and down as if I was rolling a heavy silver coin across them. It knows I am not its body.

Work is hard now. I cannot get behind a product like this anymore. I was so good beforehand. My words soothed and rolled like a mercury balm. The benefits are there to see. Everyone is getting them. Take charge of your body. People queued up, soup line style, out the door to hear me speak, to talk them into something they just learned they needed. New arms. New legs. New hands. Faster. Better. Stronger. Best of all, affordable. Unique to you. Always a satisfied customer. No one was ever disappointed after I was done with them.

Sometimes I feel the hand move on its own. Late in the evening, after nights of fitful sleep, broken up by dreams of me whole, I could see a tremble in the fingers. The shiver would be barely noticeable but it ran like a current through the finger tips, itching for my attention. It wants to be noticed. I hold my hand up against the gleam of a thousand streetlights pouring in from out front, its shadow taking hold of my face and demanding not to let go.

The hand snatches down to the bottle of cheap booze from the floor. I down it in one swift gulp borne of frustration and a desire to sleep for days. It wants more. As blood eyed weariness begins to pull me down, I think of how tomorrow I’ll go to work with my black gloved hand. Everyone will ask why I hide it and give it a sinister air with the Dr. Strangelove look. I never can answer satisfactory. I have a hand and it isn’t mine. How can I answer when I’m still not whole?

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