Outliers and Misfits: Healing Hands

If You Could
Image by jakub. Some Rights Reserved. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Outliers and Misfits is a collection of stand-alone flash-fictions all set in the same universe, a universe where there’s no such thing as normal …

Gary walks into the kitchen, puts the tray on the table and pulls out a chair. As he sits down, Sarah looks at the bowl. It’s still full of soup, and a thick skin has formed on the top.

‘Did he even try it?’ she asks, already knowing the answer.

With a shake of his head, Gary says, ‘He’s still hiding under the duvet. He wouldn’t even let me pull the curtains.’ His shoulders sag, and he sighs. ‘This is ridiculous. At this rate, he’ll waste away.’

Sarah lays her hand over Gary’s. It feels so cold. ‘He won’t, love,’ she says gently. ‘He’ll be all right. Wounds like this take time to heal.’ That’s what she keeps telling herself anyway.

‘How much time? It’s been three weeks already!’

Sarah manages a smile. ‘You remember what it was like to be young and in love and then have your heart broken.’

‘Of course I do, but I never took it this hard.’

She nods. ‘He’s always been a sensitive soul.’

Gary shoves the tray out of his way and slumps forward. He rests his head on his arms. ‘This is all my fault,’ he says, his voice muffled. ‘If only I hadn’t been so soft on him when he was little. Children trip over and graze their knees every day. They fall out of trees and break their ankles all the time. It’s part of growing up. If I hadn’t been so quick to rush in and make it all better, he might have developed some resilience.’

Sarah rises from her seat and walks around the table. Leaning over, she wraps her arms around Gary’s shoulders and kisses the top of his head. ‘Oh, love,’ she says. ‘I hate to see you like this.’

Gary sits up straight and draws her arms further around him. ‘You’d have done the same if you could’ve, wouldn’t you?’

‘Of course I would’ve,’ she replies. ‘I love him as much as you do. Forget about resilience. I just want him to get better. If only his heart was actually broken.’

For a minute, Gary doesn’t say anything, but then he grasps Sarah’s hands, and dislodging her embrace, he stands.

‘What?’ asks Sarah, as his chair scrapes backward across the kitchen floor. ‘What are you thinking?’

Light sparks in Gary’s eyes. ‘What if it is actually broken? What if it’s that Broken-Heart Syndrome thing? You know when people who’ve just lost someone they love have a heart attack or something.’

Sarah’s own heart leaps within her. ‘You think it could be that?’

‘Maybe. There’s only one way to find out.’

Stepping out of the way, Sarah points through the doorway. ‘Go,’ she says. ‘Try.’

Gary doesn’t need to be told twice. With his hands beginning to glow, he runs out of the kitchen and toward the stairs.

(This story first appeared on the Ether Books app under the title Outliers and Misfits: If You Could.)

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9 thoughts on “Outliers and Misfits: Healing Hands

  1. This story highlights the desire of parents to make everything right for their offspring. I rather liked the idea of actually being able to heal a broken heart…..

  2. Thoughtful and warm story. Brings up a good question on removing wounds vs erasing the memory of those wounds as pertaining to resilience. Are some injuries better resolved with time? I somewhat prefer the original title better as it is more direct, and ‘healing hands’ is used so often.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts. I prefer the original title too, but previous feedback suggested the need for something a little more obvious. 🙂

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