Aphelion Issue 275, Volume 26
August 2022
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The Hand

by Omar Zahzah


Finally the awakening. But not mine. I am not conscious, and I never will be.

If I were conscious, I would describe, perhaps in some poetic detail, the groan, the peeling back of the eyelids...

... the groggy glint of recognition when he looked down and saw me.

Perhaps I would even describe the thirteen hours before that moment -- the stitching, the setting of the bones, the anxiety that ate away at all of those performing these acts.

And perhaps I would describe what led him here, my new host: a careless second, the buzzing saw, the blood...


They tell him the next 12-18 months will be crucial. They tell him they expect me to be able to grasp before then, but that the "more delicate tasks" -- writing, for example -- will take longer.

If I were conscious, I'd be able to recognize that he doesn't appreciate this diagnosis. He is impatient. He takes the pills they give him so that his body won't "reject" me, he performs the exercises they assign, but if I were conscious, I would know that it is a thirst for dominance which carries him forward in all of these things. He seeks to own me, to control me in the way he controls what he carries. If I were conscious, perhaps I'd feel betrayed, even indignant.

Perhaps I'd try to fight.


They say before me they'd tried another, the one he lost originally. That one didn't "take," as they put it, and, as luck would have it, I had been separated from my first host shortly before.

If I were conscious, I would wonder if he looks at me with some resentment because of this, because I am not of his flesh.

And I would wonder, too, if it should be only functionality which dictates whether such procedures should be attempted, or whether there are deeper, more nuanced complications which elude even the mightiest intellects. For instance, were I conscious, I would certainly yearn to tell those prescribing the pills and the exercises that what is lacking in this relationship is a sense of HARMONY, which is not something that can be forced in the same way that flesh can be stitched onto a foreign body, or bone can be filed down, bent,


... for harmony, I would realize, can never be externally imposed. It is organic in nature, and elusively fickle in its appearances.


If I were conscious, I would lie awake at night while he slept, wondering if at some point he would begin to feel the same urges as my first host... the urges that led his predecessor to seek out what he referred to as the "Young Ones" late at night, that drove him to throw me over their mouths while my brother drew a blade...

And then, one morning my brother and I were taken. The first host suffered a terrible fall, and experienced what was referred to as "irreversible brain damage." They removed me and my brother; I never saw him again. They kept me someplace cool for quite some time, and then, just like that, I found myself a part of this new host.

At least, that is how I might recollect events, if I were conscious, just as I would wonder whether this new host ever dreamed of the escapades of the first at night, or just what he must have thought when he felt me twitch with the same, violent paroxysms that had always served as a signal for the first host, a signal that it was time for our nightly rituals...


I begin to scab. My color dulls. Perhaps if I were conscious, I would feel offended when he begins to hide me in his pocket, thinking me unsightly.

Or perhaps I would delight in my host's growing realization that he can't control me.


He's not like the first. He is weak and simpering. He seeks control precisely because of his impotence. If I were conscious, I would decide that I don't want him.


He grows increasingly repulsed by me. In a short amount of time, I have darkened considerably. They tell him it is normal. He doesn't listen. He ignores his appointments, and stops taking his medication.

If I were conscious, I would begin to weaken...


So they bring him back. They use a blade. They file the bone, they sew the flesh that remains after me.

By this point, I would be completely lifeless.

Shortly thereafter, they throw me into the fire.


© 2012 Omar Zahzah

Bio: Omar ZahZah’s work has appeared in such publications as Vulcan: a literary dis-allusion, Poetic Diversity, The Chiron Review, RipRap, and Narrative. In May 2011, his short story, “Death Ate A Bowl of Cereal,” was featured in The New Short Fiction Series. Several of his poems were featured in the anthology Beside The City of Angels: An Anthology of Long Beach Poetry.
He is currently a PhD student in Comparative Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles.

E-mail: Omar Zahzah

Websites: Death Comic Omar Zahzah

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