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by Roger D’Agostin

“No nail biters,” Mom said. “A man with proper hands never bites his nails. But then you have to choose between thick or lean. Not that it matters, but you should know the difference. If you fear him ever making a fist and punching you they’re thick. If you think his hands could strangle you they’re lean. Either are fine. But don’t make the mistake of choosing pudgy hands. They’re easily confused with thick, but the fingers are too small and the nail beds are short. They appear better suited to making hamburgers. Likewise, if the fingers can play a musical instrument they are not lean. Remember these hands will touch you for the rest of your life.” Mom pointed her right pinky at me, her only unscarred intact digit among the ten.

After two decades I’ve concluded that neither Mom nor Dad knows the facts surrounding the first incident. There’s only so many times I can ask. But here’s how the story goes: the garbage disposal unit wasn’t working. It hadn’t been for some time. Mom kept nagging Dad to fix it then took it upon herself and that’s when Dad decided to finally fix it as well. Why he turned the breaker on rather than off is unclear. That was the accident. And it was an accident.

The second incident wasn’t. I don’t know if Mom planned it before or after nor how she learned to use a circular saw and tie a tourniquet.

Dad said if I was a boy he’d recommend I pick someone with nice feet. That’s the advice his dad offered. “You’ll always see your wife’s feet. Once she hits fifty she’ll cover up with a robe in the slightest of evening chills. In the summer she’ll shun shorts and limit the loose skin on her arms to exposure. But she’ll still wear sandals. Or go barefoot.” He tapped his stump and I don’t know how Mom could have done it.

But that’s love.

When they sit on the porch in the summer, his hand holding her foot, I’m quite glad the porch is screened and no one can see them from the road.

Roger D’Agostin is a writer living in Connecticut.  His work has appeared in Fiction SouthEast, HCE Review, and Underwood.  He is currently working on a book of short stories.