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Saturday, April 08, 2006

Father's Hands

I stare at the hands.

My father's hands are just now beginning to show his age, slight wrinkles appearing, but they remain strong. They are permanently tanned after years of foreign holidays and a few months backpacking round Europe when he was a young man. The palms are near-smooth and a healthy pink. The fingernails perfect and well cared for.

On the middle finger of his right hand is a callous, formed over years of using a pen. My father writes - in a way - for a living and refuses to use a typewriter.

The skin whitens on his fingers as they wrap the thick leather belt around themselves.

I hold out my own, little hand, balled into a fist. Quickly and sharply he brings the tough leather down across my knuckles, once, twice, three times. Each time I try to take my hand away, but his strong hands are quicker.

Tears well up in the corner of my eyes but I don't take them away from my father's hands. He lets the belt unravel, drops it on the bed. His hands reach out for me, the fingers splayed and I flinch back. The expected slap doesn't come. Instead the fingers wipe away my tears and I feel the surprising softness of his skin.

His hands pull me to him and I go willingly, accepting the hug.

"You won't do it again, will you?"

"No dad, I'm sorry."

He hugs me tight and the childish anger and hatred I felt just moments ago dissolves into the strong love I have for my father - and his cruel and loving hands.

Comments on "Father's Hands"


Blogger Diana said ... (3:52 PM) : 

It's taken me awhile to get through this, really get through it; the first couple of times I read it I had to rush past some of the images because they're just so hard to look at. Doesn't mean we shouldn't though, right? And you captured it so well.

I love the details: the whitening of his fingers as he wraps the belt around them, the unraveling of the belt when he's done.

This was very well done, my friend, and very raw.


Blogger SL said ... (7:52 AM) : 

Thanks, Di. While a true story, I think I made it...sound worse than it was? Something like that.


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