Abused. Calloused. Marked. Worn.
Strengthened from years of tending to his father. Helping to lift the full-grown man and handing him weights to keep his arms strong. Supporting his legs and urging him to stretch and exercise the unused muscles.
Sandpaper-rough fingers snagging on, sorting, and folding mountains of laundry.
Punctured by tiny needles while learning to sew on a button or stitch together a hole in a pocket
Skinned knuckles and mashed fingertips from taking apart and putting together engines and motors.
Sizzling, smoking burns from not having enough patience to wait for those engines to cool.
Hands that could work utter magic with a wrench or a screw driver, and breathe new life into two old, cast-aside motorcycles.
Or a drowning teenaged girl who threw her life to the wind and waves when she felt as if she had been cast aside.
Hands that wrenched her from the furious ocean’s violent grip and raised her up to the sunlight and air. Brought her back to his sunshine.
Nimble enough to set tiny screws and attach thread-like wires.
Fumbling and stumbling when faced with tools of a different sort—blenders, mixers, and paring knives.
Nicked and sliced while learning to prepare simple meals.
Branded by the oven and hot skillets, and blistered from popping grease.
Injuries stinging when attacking teetering stacks of dishes in tubs of hot, soapy water.
Paper cuts and cramped joints from writing pages of essays, and bending over text books and lessons.
Black grease-stained creases and chipped nails that would soon be fresh-scrubbed red and lemony scented.
Strong enough to raise a solid wooden beam from the ground and lift it to reaching hands waiting to set it in place for a new roof.
Grip iron and force it to bend to his will.
Rip apart and defeat fantastical creatures armed with razor-like teeth and bodies armored with stone.
Fearful fingers that trembled nervously over her body and touched her as if he was afraid his strength would injure her.
It was that strength that saved her.
Nervously curious hands that explored, and learned, and shared, and loved.
Soft and hard.
Satin and steel.
Adoring and deadly.
Big enough and mighty enough to stop and hold back any threats from the outside world.
But more than large enough and tender enough to embrace, protect, and nurture the tiny, pink-wrapped, squalling infant and the exhausted but joyously happy woman.
Capable, sure, and steady hands that could safeguard those who comprised his entire world.
Hands that bore the scars that told the story of a lifetime.
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