TESTIMONY OF AN ARMLESS MAN
I lost my arms in a farming accident, but later found I’d grown phantom limbs. There were many things I could no longer do, yet my injury gave me certain gifts. I could caress my wife’s phantom breast, for example—the one she’d lost to cancer the previous winter—and brush against my fingertips, from a distance of six thousand miles, the famed Yubari melons of Japan. If a girl in town went missing, I could read her lips by touch and discover her hidden location. Grateful though I was, I longed to hold my own son. Each day I waited to feel him tug my empty sleeve, to climb on the bed and lay beside me. Then, one summer, he died—nothing could console me. Years later I woke with a strange weight in my limbs. My son, I whispered, is it you? I felt the soft contours of a head shift against my chest and knew I would carry him the rest of my life. No one could talk to me any longer, ask about their absent loved ones or the sweetness of a Japanese melon. Even now as I tell this story I am holding my boy—he is so cold, so silent, his head so heavy against me.