Ghost Ache and Tiny Daggers

It's true what they say about amputated body parts still tingling. It's been ten years gone and sometimes I still get the ghost buzz where the pinky and ring finger of my right hand should be. Actually, it's not so much a buzz but an ache--a perceived stiffness. It seems to happen on clear, sunny days like this. The opposite of arthritis. I was out on the corporate espalande at lunchtime, taking a series of photographs. I was documenting the different people who walked in front of a particularly bright, but otherwise non-descript yellow van. There were black construction workers and white ladies in tight silk skirts. Kids with smoothies and beer-bellied managers with white paper bags. No smiles. Lots of cell phones.

I was checking out my light meter when suddenly I felt it--the discomfort of a tight cramping at the place where my fingers should be. I let the camera fall into my lap and instinctively (even after ten years! imagine that!) set about cracking my knuckles. When I realized my mistake I sat stunned and frozen, looking up in time to see a priest hurry past the van wearing flip-up sunglasses and smoking a huge cigar. The expression on his face was one of raw determination, for who or what I don't know. It was the best shot of the day and I missed it.

I was always one of the cleaner kids. To me having no dirt under your fingernails was a sign of cleanliness so I used to scrape the inside of my nails bloody. I played with the boys in the dirt hills behind our development, so my nails often became blackened giving me cause to scrape every day. I sat happily on the green park bench with all ten fingers and my nail file poised like a little dagger.

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