Creative Nonfiction: Extremities by Charlotte Hamrick


His fingers startled me. The change he counted out onto the counter dropped spastically from the peaks and valleys of his contorted hands. It hurt to look at them. My eyes darted away. He dropped his head, hid his hands in his overalls, pockets bulging like alien appendages beneath the threadbare material. I blushed when I reached out to give him his package, blushed because I was nervous he couldn’t grasp it, but mostly because I felt like shit for being afraid of his hands, afraid that mine could end up like that one day, too.


He massaged my throbbing palm with his thumb, circular like a sucking drain like a drill like a tornado coming too fast to get out of the way. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, he said. Last year it was TMJ. I couldn’t get a spoon into my mouth for two weeks. I just sighed and went back to the computer no one else touched. The loud speaker blared, the phones rang, the doctors demanded, the nurses scurried, the patients questioned and paced, questioned and paced and then yelled when they disliked the answer and my numbed fingers just kept typing.


I have power but it’s not super. Lightning shoots through my hands and out my fingertips but no one can see it and nothing gets zapped except me. My knuckles expand with too much movement like the tail of a comet hurtling to the sun. Daily life is my sun. I hurtle- hurtle- hurtle until the night comes ‘round like a secret lover, slows my trajectory, dulls the lightning, shrinks the knuckles I hide beneath the sheets.

Charlotte Hamrick’s creative work has been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies including Still: The Journal, Harpy Hybrid Review, New World Writing, Reckon Review, and Poetry Foundation’s Harriet Blog. She’s had nominations for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, Best Microfiction, Best Small Fictions, and was a Finalist for the 15th Glass Woman Prize and for Micro Madness 2020. She is Features Editor for Reckon Review and Creative Nonfiction Editor for The Citron Review. She lives in New Orleans with her husband and a menagerie of rescued pets where she sometimes does things other than read and write.

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