My hands are not the prettiest things, the fingers are no slender delicate phalanges but shortish, and a little chubby, or stubby, and red. The nails are chewn off, cuticles either torn or tips swollen, nail biting can be an ugly habit.

The skin is dry, leathery on the fleshy part where thumb meets hand, scratchy over the knuckles, scarred. Cooking, cigarette burns, a minute slivery line that has always just been there, small dark blotches where the skin got rubbed away in a fit of agitation.

One pinkie curves up delicately, a personal reminder of never to turn on the cake mixer with my hands in the bowl again. (I was 13, and distracted. Careless.) My thumb sports a silver ring, twiddle fun when distracted, and the thumb is narrower then my index finger.

They are not pretty, my hands, but they are functional. They can fold and write, type and wash dishes. They can whip up a quick meal, tasty and cheap, they can hold soft baby and soothe them, they can trace patterns and grip luggage and move, feel, touch.

I have been told many things about these hands:
"You've got mutant fingers!"

"Look at how swiftly she arranged that fruit platter. Amazing."
"You change the baby's diaper, you're quick and sure and she trusts you"
"You hold your pen funny, you know that?"
"I love the way you touch me."

In truth, I don't care what is being said. You noticed my hands? You have watched them, observed, inferred? Good. Because I watch these hands too, they are mine and any opinion is welcome. They are part of me, dry and unpretty and beautiful.

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