Edwina P. Romero
Once nimble-fingered, strong, and knuckle-crackable, my hands have become autonomous lethal weapons always at the ready to attack my sense of self, to confound me, and to turn an innocent, heretofore intuitive movement into a booby trap.
I tape a package and tape sticks to my thumb; I pull gently at the vacuum cleaner, it leaps forward tangling its own cord into a heap of spaghetti. I grasp my well-worn, familiar mug and fingers miss the mark, shooting mug and coffee forward, out of reach. Singling out and retrieving one sheet of paper has become a major and arduous accomplishment, often concluding with several wrinkled, unusable discards.
As in a possible episode of “The Twilight Zone,” my ladies’ hands metamorphosed into independent claws disconnected from my autonomic nervous system. Once involuntary actions, such as rubbing my eye, now require detailed planning so as not to run the risk of poking out my eye. Now, I consciously think out the steps, the route, my hands, thumbs, and fingers will take in order to perform the rubbing of the eye successfully and without pain.
Typing, (currently referred to as ‘keyboarding’) a learned skill similar to playing piano (hence ‘keyboarding’), has become anxiety-provoking torture. For way over 40 years, I relied on this skill—without thought—while composing such documents as scholarly papers, creative mish-mashes, memoirs, and reports. And, having reached the typing speed and accuracy worthy of an Executive Administrative Assistant, I embraced a false, oh very false, sense of security. I believed that skills once-learned and heavily practiced achieve a sort of permanency.
However, my newly evolved fingers no longer strike the intended keys, indeed these alien claws play dirty tricks—creating such abominations as wrrd, or rwod for word. How do my fingers do such things? They race ahead, lag behind, or enter mortal combat with each other and my thumbs; they jump together on one key; they ignore the space bar; they skip over whole words.
These hands and fingers that I once trusted to steer a car, comb my hair, tie the string on my baby daughter’s bonnet, no longer can be relied upon to do my bidding. And, sometimes, just to be perverse, they ache.
These hands, fingers, thumbs, knuckles, and wrists don’t even look the same. They are spotted, wrinkled, and bent into odd shapes. I no longer recognize these hands, nor can anticipate their next movements.
Yet, these are small betrayals. Not cancerous or gangrenous—only mind-boggling—minor irritations reminding me that I am organic. So, when my hands trp me up [as they just did with trp not trip], I shall recall that all transformations may not be spiritual.
TRY IT: I wrote this essay in response to a one-word writing prompt: transmogrification. Try it, or chose your own word.