The girl named Minus can start hands with her fire. She strikes matches against her skin to light them. As they burn, the flames don’t sputter. They’re overconfident for their size, conical little jets of fire like what comes out of the end of a blowtorch. Minus holds these flames up against dry trees or pieces of paper or the side of the house she’s squatting in and the fire never spreads. Growths start. Spreading out from the point of contact: lumpy knobs that flatten out into palms, with knuckles on one side and heart lines on the other. The palms fold out into jointed fingers as she draws the flame back, reaching forward for the match, ending in nails. They never stop reaching when Minus takes the flame away, even after she blows her fires out, but they never grow wrists or arms. The hands aren’t flesh and blood, they’re the same material as whatever kindling they start from, but every hand is an entire hand. Some of them have knuckles raw with scar tissue. Some have long, perfect nails like acrylics. Some have hair that feels like real hair. Fingers splay out or curl slightly into a grasp, always reaching out, sometimes stretching or shaking as they grow. Minus records every new hand she burns into existence: left or right, young or old, fast or slow as it grows, how long it takes to turn still and solid once the flame is out. She’s compared her own hands to every single one of them, and she knows they do not belong to her.
Sean Noah Noah is a non-binary writer living somewhere in the American Northeast. Their weird fiction has appeared in Reflex Press, Eunoia Review, Bizarro Central, and Plus Literary Magazine. You can find them on twitter at @SeanNoahNoah.
photo by Sabine van Straaten, Danilo Alvesd and Annie Spratt (via unsplash)