Rough hands.


I don’t remember what it feels like to have completely smooth, supple skin on my palms and fingers.

The skin on my palms is patchy and rough from eczema, which flares up and itches whenever it’s most inconvenient. Detergent from dishwashing and laundry only serves to irritate it more, adorning my palms with plateau-like cracks, flakes of white, dead, dry skin chipping off if I so much as rub my hands together. Sometimes in a fit of distress I pick at it until it bleeds, a tiny red speck of blood that soon heals raw and red, then dry and diseased as it readies itself to dehydrate, angling itself like a splinter in need of plucking. The dryness creeps up my palms onto select fingers, winding its way around my digits like skinny white vines — wrapping them whole like mummies until my hand can be mistaken for an ancient gnarled limb fished from a sarcophagus. My fingertips have not been spared either. Years of bass guitar, violin, cello have ripped apart the tips of both hands, forming rock hard callouses that can handle being pressed against hot steel pans (for a little while). The jagged layers of dead skin catch on cloth; I’ve slit the skin near my lips open while washing my face. My cuticles are dry and peeling. The ridges at my finger joints are sunken, sullen wrinkles.

When I try to nourish my dying skin with whatever lotion I can get my hands on, I feel my own sandpapery roughness and wonder if it ever gives you the shivers like it does me — when I cradle your face in my hands, tickle your forearm, caress your bare back. I always try to hold your hand on the side with the highest grain count.

But you never cared, you just grabbed whichever was closer to you and grinned.


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