Girls without Fingers Want to Unbutton Your Fly
Carissa Halston

Girls without fingers want to unbutton your fly. When you stand in front of them on the bus, your lascivious goods on display at eye level, they think about opening your shirt with their thumb stumps, even though they know you dream about their teeth. Sensuality could never come from dental weapons, their eyes say. Besides, if you want to keep that shirt, the buttons can't be bitten off; they must be coaxed from their holes in a labor of lust and digitless dexterity.

Through it all, you want the tunneled caress of a single closed palm instead of the tented invention of two. But you can't ask because fingerless girls don't talk about it, not to you, who are tenfold better off.

You wish they understood your willingness to understand. Meanwhile, they talk and laugh and look at you in ways that say, wordlessly, "Don't buy me a ring. Make it a bracelet."

Girls without lips want to kiss your eyelids. "Is it a trust thing? Scared you'll lose an eye?" they ask when you recoil. "It's okay. I ne'er attack unless incited."

They sidle against you, leg to leg, and bid your eyes to close. You expect the hard truth of teeth, but soft tissue stirs instead. Your eyelids rise wet, sticking to everything except each other. "See?" the girls hiss. "It's just a little tongue." Just a little tongue is what you see at every syllable, its tip harnessed between two tidy rows, white as unmarked graves.

Your maw quivers where theirs cannot. They read your mouth like subtitles in a foreign film. You couldn't possibly know, but they're never tempted to kiss your lips. Something in your bilabials and dental fricatives—your crisp p, buoyant b, muted m, your sultry f and v—fetters their desire. Nonetheless, they stand enraptured whenever you apply ChapStick.

Girls without hair want you to ask them to change. Whenever it snows, they miss their eyelashes, whenever they sweat, their eyebrows. "Hats look better with a bob," they say, "and hoods with a long, messy shag."

Your stubbly chin meets their rubbery mounds and envy rises within. They wipe your sopping jowl, slick but rough, smiling, "Yes, right there." Then, "How would you feel about a landing strip?"

You like the clean, clinical squeak of their skin, but would not refuse a muffled patch of follicles. "What if they grew between my eyebrows?" they ask. "What if I only grew hair under my arms?" Their preferences are yours, you say. Whatever makes you happy.

Somewhere, you imagine their collected absences together. Fingers and lips in a tangle of hair. You wish to lie among their lacks, to surround yourself in vacancies, to find the opposite of shortcomings so easily conjured, easily overcome.

In your presence among them, your fingers will bloat, overtaking your hands until they weigh down your wrists. Your lips will grow hivey, overpronounced, overwhelming powers of speech and all other points of articulation. Within theirs, you'll lose sight of the ends of your own hair and be subsequently drowned when it grows down your throat.

Carissa Halston is the author of the novel, A Girl Named Charlie Lester. She lives in Boston.

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Detail on main page from woodcut by Frans Masereel ("Des Passants," 1968).

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