The day Jane Trilby found a severed hand in the rose garden turned out to be one of the best of her life. At first, of course, she was a bit alarmed. Head cocked, with a crown of voluminous white hair, she stared down at it, frowning. She had nearly stepped on it lying at the base of a particularly robust pink Grootendorst when she came outside to do her daily pruning.
The hand was average size, its fingers outstretched, relaxed. It was clad in a white glove, as a butler would wear, or a lady at a fancy party. The stump of a wrist protruded from the cuff. The hand had been cleanly cleaved from its host—bone, tendon, and muscle lurid shades of pink, yellow, and purple in cross-section. She could not tell if it was male or female.
Unsure how to proceed, she glanced around. A group of kids was playing at the end of the court, running and shouting happily. Jane smiled sadly. Since Jim passed away two years ago, periodic interaction with neighborhood children was the only human contact she would have for days, if you didn’t count robo-calls from CVS and politicians.
She took a deep, resolute breath, and, with two fingers in a dainty pinching motion, picked the hand up by the back of the glove. She rotated it slowly and took a careful, tentative sniff. It smelled of talc and bread dough, not at all what she expected.
She carried it inside and set it down, the white of the glove contrasting with the deep walnut of the kitchen table. She supposed she should report this to someone. She’d watched enough CSI to know that if she called the police, they would tromp all over her house and garden in search for trace evidence, microfibers, and DNA. No, she would need to handle this a different way.
She pondered various options, her fingers absently drumming the surface of the table. She could call her son Jeff; he was smart and might know what to do. Drrrrum. Or, she could just pitch the thing—wrap it in tinfoil and put it in the trash. No one would know. Drrrrum. Maybe someone at the university would have a use for it. Could she get a tax write-off for donating a severed body part? Drrrrum.
It was then that the hand drummed back, without warning or preamble. Jane stared, not moving, hardly breathing. The hand was still. Had she imagined it? The thermostat clicked, turning off the central air conditioning, deepening the silence. She could hear the kids outside, shouting and laughing as they continued their play. Jane swallowed hard and cautiously drummed her fingers on the table.
Drrrrrrum, the hand percussed in reply.
Jane successfully got the hand to snap, tap, knock, and slap the table in response to her. She laughed, clapping delightedly, then rested her hand on top of the hand of her guest, which wiggled in happy response to her touch.
The following days were ones of delightful companionship. Jane and the hand played cards, sketched, worked on a sewing project, and played dozens of rock, paper, scissors matches. They watched TV in the evenings, passing the remote back and forth. At bedtime, with the sounds of crickets and cicadas stirring in the humid night, the hand nestled contentedly on a down pillow that Jane retrieved from the cedar chest at the foot of the bed. In the morning, she woke to soft, fabric-robed fingers gently resting against her cheek.
Jane’s friends and neighbors noticed a positive change in her demeanor and sociability immediately, commenting on her newfound energy and confidence. Allan Henson, a retired accountant from the Hy-Vee turkey plant in town, certainly noticed. His interest translated to conversation, an invitation, and several subsequent dates that both he and Jane enjoyed a great deal.
After several weeks, deep in October, Jane felt it fitting that her two best friends should meet. She arranged and prepared a large feast. If Allan found it strange to be dining with a severed hand, he didn’t outwardly evince discomfort. His conversation was thoughtful, his compliments on the meal sincere.
The hand, however, felt differently. Peas flicked into Allan’s face and forehead. His drink was knocked over. When Jane left the room, hand’s middle finger raised accusingly. The coup de grâce came when Allan and Jane were seated on the couch, drinking coffee, knees gently touching. Hand quietly crept up the back of the sofa and in one fluid motion ripped Allan’s hairpiece off of his head and conveyed it with alarming speed into the lit fireplace.
Jane was mortified, and, more in embarrassment than in anger, chased the hand into a corner. As she grabbed the cloth fingertips, the hand backed up forcefully, resulting in a brief tug of war that caused the limb to go one direction, the glove to go the other.
Uncovered, hand shrank into the corner of the room. Jane gasped. Allan stood in alarm. It was heavily scarred, its nails jagged yellow shards, the skin a sickly mottle of grey, green, and blue. Jane turned away, sobbing, and the hand scuttled rapidly across the floor and out the open window. Allan left, without speaking a word.
For weeks Jane searched—in the yard, behind the house, around the court—to no avail. Fall turned into winter, and night’s darkness came earlier and earlier. Jane’s glow and energy likewise dimmed into days of grim loneliness and silence.
One cold night when the moon was full, there came a soft knock at the door. Jane opened it to find hand on the welcome mat, forlorn, shivering, encrusted in dirt.
“Oh, thank god.” Jane picked hand up, embracing it lovingly. She carried it upstairs, gently bathed it, trimmed nails, massaged it with lotion. She climbed into bed, fingers comfortably entwined with the cold fingers of her friend, and drifted off to sleep, smiling.
A Glove Triangle – Audio Version read by Kathleen Godwin.
FB Morse is a writer living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, writing short stories and a novel.