the surgeon’s hands

Do you remember the growing pains you had when you were a kid? Those nights your legs ached and wouldn’t let you sleep, when curled up in bed you hated your body and everything that was happening within it. Then a week later or maybe a month later, you realised you were taller, a notch higher on the door frame. You were becoming bigger, stronger, and better than before. As we grow up though, we learn that the growing doesn’t stop, only perhaps the kind of pain changes.

the surgeon’s hands. J R Manawa.

She knew, she knew, she knew. She knew that the surgeon would piece the flesh back together seamlessly, despite the absolute mess she’d made of it, and despite the lawless pain that was rending her body. She knew the surgeon was practiced, that his hands were gentle and firm without a tremble. These were hands that had never known a tremble or a twitch, hands that did not know the meaning of confidence, because they were confidence, they had no understanding of what it was to be without.

The skill of the surgeon meant that given a week, the wound would be closing, weaving in on itself and knitting the torn pieces of her flesh back together. His skill meant that in a month, the pale scar would be raw perhaps, but it would be healing well, her health would no longer be at risk, her body would be growing. In a year she knew only a fine line would be left behind, a stripe in her skin that was no more than a memory, a tiny reminder of what she had been through and where she had come from. She would be wiser for it, and stronger.

She trusted the surgeon with her life, but she knew there was pain to come yet. The surgeon’s needle was prepped and ready, his hands were gloved and his face set. She imagined herself a canvas painting, or a weaving about to come together, it would be beautiful in the end, even better than it had been before. But each time the needle entered her flesh she would hurt, even though she knew it was for good. Each time the thread came through and the surgeon pulled tighter, she knew that the tattered pieces of flesh were coming closer, meeting at the frayed edges and shutting. The pain was unbearable, but the wound was closing. She was being made new, her life resting on her faith in the surgeon’s hands.

But for now, it was going to hurt some more.

Sewing the wound shut.
Sewing the wound shut.

This story is dedicated to all the beautiful people in my life, but was especially inspired by a conversation with my amazing sister, Street Fighter Sarah. You can find her at – and I really hope you do!

Written by JR Manawa

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