i. Learn to sew gloves
Dad teaches me to break the knuckles when the hands get too close to the skin, to fetch out the tendons and steal the ligaments. He tells me that the volar plate will spin and crack and hobble, and the palm will sink. The hand will be broken. He says, here is how you use his broken hands: you make gloves out of them1—hollow them out by removing all the debris—mold garnered through the years;2 then you cut them in the middle and lay them flat on the earth; you sew the gussets to the back of the fingers,3 fold the wrists and stitch around, trim it with furry tape; you find the patterns rough so you alter the outlines; you finish with trimming; you wear the gloves on vacations to the east, in winters when you’re too cold to speak, on college interviews and at fancy dinner parties; you tell everyone: I sew these gloves—they are fleshy, fearless and fresh. Top-quality, you tell them. Dad teaches me to sew gloves. This way, he says, you correctly learn to use hands.
ii. Breathe with a lung backpack
Dad teaches me to bite the skin to the bone when a hand covers my nose. To rush the blood out and form a pool. He teaches me swimming and says, here is how you prepare: you fill the pool with his blood lost in agony; you bite more and stretch his flesh out wide, flat as a dough rolled into a circle; you take the skin4 and wear it as your cape5; you suck your breath and dive deep, come back to the shore and breathe. In this way, he is over, lost to you and gone. Next, you uncoil him from his skin and you laugh a little, breathe a little. Then you go back to work again. You take out his lungs and hang them in your closet; you use them when you swim again, this time in water; you crack his ribs and put them on sale on your Etsy shop.6Next, you break his heart into pieces and feed it to the wolves, suck the bile out of his liver, empty his pancreas till all the stones roll out; you eat his stomach for dinner. Next, you throw the leftover things into the sea and let it do its work. Dad teaches me to swim under the sea with the new pair of lungs. This way, he says, you breathe better.
iii. Be an eagle
Dad teaches me to snatch eyes when they stare at you for long enough to make you uneasy. To pluck them like I pluck weeds from my neighbor’s garden. To let him screech while I do it. He teaches me to snaffle them hard enough to let them turn into the color of a salmon.7 He tells me to not be afraid of the hollow spaces—the voids on his face. He says, here is how you take care of your business: you put the eyes as a keepsake in your Jaipuri-printed metallic box, lock it and drop the keys into the sea;8 you garner your favorite beads and put them into the pits on his face. Congrats! His eyes are senile and moribund, deprived of existence. He whimpers. So you take a needle out of your mom’s Royal Dansk cookie-cum-sewing box and sew his upper lids to the lower ones; you take a piece of cotton and rub it hard on them till the red drips into shadows of darkness and soaks all of your clothes;9 then, you smile a real smile. Dad teaches me to snatch an eye like an eagle. This way, he says, you make him understand the ways of seeing.10
1materials needed: dead & unpeaceful hands, furry tape
2bones, shafts, veins, capillaries and ligaments
4the skin has now become loose
5a cape protects you as it has magic, at least that’s what happens in superhero movies
6 Fresh Ribs Available For Sale: $77. Description: The ribs are fresh and will keep anything safe. Chickens, for example. Adore them with beads or keep them enclosed by silk — the choice is yours. Contact us for more!
7also the color of blood, roses and the evening sky
8the sea is your brother, he will protect all of your secrets and won’t let old keys open new doors tomorrow
9now blooded with despair
Harsimran Kaur (she/her) is a seventeen-year-old writer whose work appears in HAD, Milk Candy Review, Jellyfish Review, Big Windows Review, and elsewhere. An alumna of the Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship, her work has been recognized by The New York Times and The Roadrunner Review. Find more about her at harsimranwrites.com. She tweets at @harsimranwrites.