BY MONIQUE QUINTANA
When you were 12, you painted your fingernails red and you didn’t like the way the paint lit your tips like match sticks you couldn’t understand.
Your grandmother caught you watching Marilyn Monroe when you were 5, so she cut your sandwich in pieces and said, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” You watched her hands slip the blade in, her hands three shades lighter than yours, yet still roughed from dishwater and hanging clothes in the sun.
In the mornings, when it’s still dark outside, she pulls your hair with a fine-toothed comb, the pain in syncopation with the water drops that cling to her kitchen window and the garden patch outside, where you tug little sticks with pictures of the bulbs buried beneath it. You stick your fingers in the ground and find clotted roots there, and you pull them up the surface. You ask them to be light like your grandmother’s, but your spell doesn’t work this time.
You never loved your hands or the lines that sang blood beneath them. In a photo from their wedding, your father’s hand is placed over your mother’s hand and she is holding a long stemmed yellow flower, her fingernails curved like moons, half waiting for a peace she will never be blessed with. You touch your father’s hands, and you wonder how much men contemplate their hands or the things they do with them.
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You slip your hand on your grandmother’s paring knife. The cut is clean, but it feels like a burn, and you can’t afford to go to the emergency room. You wrap your finger with masking tape, like you did when the ring your son’s father gave you slipped off your thinning fingers in the tub. This is a two-time ritual.
You rejected palm reading long ago because according to your lifeline, you should be dead already, and you can’t believe in magick that is indecisive.
You learn that your best tongue is in your hands. It says all the things that your mouth cannot say.
You touch your hands to your mouth when you laugh to bury the sound there.
You sit in your grandmother’s hospital room and drink cold water the nurse gives you from a wax paper cup. It feels like an ocean in your hands.
You find her hands where they are now and smooth the skin. Bluish, you find the stone. They are the diamonds she once told you about, and you smooth the dirt to make them shine, tiny triangles, they leave dirt under your nails, tiny triangles, they are clouded, then sparkling, then awake again and blooming in the rot.
Monique Quintana is a contributing fashion and beauty editor of Luna Luna and is the managing editor of the blogazine, Razorhouse. She holds an MFA in Creating Writing Fiction and her work has appeared in Huizache, Bordersenses, and the Acentos Review, amomg others. She is a member of the Central Valley Women Writers of Color collective, the Latinx Authors Collective (LACO), and she is an English teacher at Fresno City College.