Happy Hour: A good firm grip

Words by Bridget Lutherborrow

Pictures by James Blake

Published on April 30, 2014

One Wednesday Kate woke at 3am with a syrupy mouth and man hands sprouting from her wrists. Strong and hairy where her own had been small, with only the lightest fuzz along the knuckles. At a bar with friends the previous night she had drunk five, maybe six, glasses of expensive whiskey. Then wandered home to throw off her shoes and shirt, collapsing diagonally across the bed in her pencil skirt. So when she woke at three, thirsty and dull-headed, she had looked at the man hands fuzzily for a few moments. But it was dark and she could feel the beginnings of her hangover rising ominous in the back of her brain. She drifted back to sleep, her head cupped in those large palms.

It was 8am when the sun hatefully pried her eyes open again and her hands were back to normal. Kate went to work and didn’t think about the man hands. At the end of the day she accepted another bar invitation. A friend bought her a whiskey, something dark and smoky. It sat like old embers in her belly, smouldering. She had another. Three more and the group was singing TV theme songs over the cool blues of the pub speakers. The rest of the night swam by until all Kate could remember were the bright passing lights of the taxi home.

Waking, thirsty, in the early hours of the morning, she could see the hands were back. Knuckles like chicken drumsticks with the meat stripped off. She went to the bathroom, let the man hands fill with water from the tap, and drank noisily from them. Back in bed, she lay awake considering what it would be like if her hands were stuck like this. She picked up her phone from the bedside table to test them. The weight of it was lighter now that her fingers were muscled and hard. She ran her new hands across the clean sheets. Unbuttoned her top and ran them across her stomach. She undid more buttons, took off the shirt, then her bra. Let the hands sit on top of her breasts. How soft they were under her new touch. How these new hands seemed to put up more resistance than the old. She rolled to her side to undo her skirt. She held herself, with each hand touching the opposite arm. Let her fingers slide down until they hit her hips. Traced a path back across her body and let one large hand slip down between her legs.

Kate woke with the light, still thinking about the orgasm her new hands had given her. She worried she should feel this way about these new hands when her regular hands had always been just fine. If she invited a lover to stay, what would they think of these hands that were so thick and bear-knuckled? But the truth was most lovers didn’t mind or didn’t believe their eyes once the lights were down. Though the hands kept changing, Kate didn’t call a witchdoctor or try to cut them off. She decided it was fine, perhaps, to drink whiskey and have man hands. In fact, she wished sometimes they’d change for good, so she could shake hands with clients and look them directly in the eye as they felt her new hands for the first time.

Bridget Lutherborrow is a writer of odd fiction. Her collection Thirteen Story Horse is due out later this year with Going Down Swinging. She is @birtiledge in all her social media incarnations.

James Blake is a neo-patrician warrior poet. He likes thunderstorms and pointy-toed boots. He dislikes banana cake and waiting. And he urges you to check out: www.jelldragon.com.