The Shakes

My hands shake, now.

My mother says it’s just from the caffeine I drink,
or the break
fast I don’t eat, but I eat breakfast and I on
ly have one cup of coffee a day.

I’ve had a disease in the tendons of my hands since the ninth grade.
When the doctor diagnosed them, I went home and did my re
search, the way I was raised to do.

I looked up symptoms: 1)
muscle atrophy.
Those words, like a heavy
weight champion’s final punch, found my gut and wrenched it,
hard. 2)
Tremors.
I can’t open any twist-capped bot
tles. I can barely grip my pen with a steady hand.
I can’t hold my lipstick still. My hand jerks when I’m hold
ing my water bottle, and water flies every
time.

My hands, the tools of my trade, have betrayed me, fin
ally.
I can’t hold my baby niece for more than fift
een minutes.
How will I hold my own children?
How will I write with a pen?

There is no cure for this, and if they find a cure for the physical ill
ness, there’s definitely no cure for the mental damage done.
To hold your hands as steady as you can and watch them act on their own is terrify
ing.
To set your baby niece down and watch your hands twitch an
d jerk, the same hands that had just held a fragile life, a
nd to wonder what could’ve happened if you had
n’t set her down at the right time.

To play the same song on the piano that you have play
ed your whole life and for
get the notes, and miss your favorite part of the song,
and miss a simple riff, and
miss the chords.

To go to grip a door handle, and falt
er.
To try to type a par
agraph, and mistype a simple word, even af
ter years of typing practice.

To watch your hands, knowing what’s happening be
neath the surface of your skin, and to won
der how it will degenerate in the years to come.

Will I be able to hold a pen at all?
Will I be able to open a door?
Will I be able to type? To turn a
page? To hold his ha
nd? To tie my shoes? Will I be able to play the pia
no at all?
Because losing control of my hands would be like duct
taping my mouth shut forever, and
I love to scream and lau
gh.

The tremors wors
en when I’m nerv
ous.

The band concert scared the ginger, when he saw the
m for the first time: my hands as uncontro
llable, wild things, things not mea
nt to be held or soothed, but
ttamed.

I was on the verge of being sick with nerv
es; I was in charge of the trian
gle. Triangles require fierce control of the fine
motor nerves, the nerv
es that are wasting away ben
eath my skin as we speak.

The ginger still doesn’t know I wasn’t nerv
ous about the crowd; I’d performed in front of hund
reds.
I was nervous about the trem
ors visit
ing my hands ons
tage like a fingertip’s grim reaper,
about the wild things tak
ing over and tap
ping the triangle with
out my consent, and ruin
ing the concert.

That didn’t happen;
we won the highest score of all of the bands that performed for our school.
The tremors left my hand that night,
with the ginger’s kiss and
the ginger’s reassuring, “You’ll be great,” and
the ginger’s hand on my hand, and
my hand remembering the constellations
of freckles on the ginger’s hand, and
my hand forgetting how to shake.

And my hand forgetting how to shake.

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