Friday, August 12, 2011

An Arm & A Leg

An Arm & A Leg
Bobby Derie

A blind, probing finger poked into the soft, warm flesh of a thigh, and stopped. The leg quivered in place, but did not pull away. Hesitant, the finger traced a small circle on the yielding skin, feeling the fine little hairs, trying not to press too hard, then pulled away for a moment to reposition itself. The arm rested on the heel of the hand, and brought other fingers to bear.

The sudden absence of the presence left only the memory of it on the leg—the small, warm intruder, a soft bulbous tip covering something…harder, firmer. Then the presence returned—more of them this time. Three or four separate things caressed the small of the small of the back of the thigh, began exploring the soft flank. The leg’s toes curled in on themselves.

The hand gripped the knee suddenly, roughly, the thick body of the forearm slapping against the thigh, blunt stub of a thumb almost digging in to the bony joint. The leg thrashed, rocked on its heel, and fell over, dragging the arm with it. A blind kick sent the arm away, fingers flailing like a dying spider. The arm landed palm up, stunned.

The hand gyrated, trying to right itself. A subtle, rhythmic tremor ran through the floor, the banging steps of the leg. The rough callused sole laid itself against the wrist, pressing down with all its weight, pinning the arm to the ground. The big toe ran its great nail along the outside of the thumb—not hard enough to scratch, or draw blood, but the arm shook at the gesture.

The thumb moved to meet the big toe, and for a few moments all the awareness of arm and leg seemed to be focused at that little dance of touches. No longer did the thumb rudely press or try to catch, but now bent double to run slowly along the toe to the great bony joint, and the toe in turn teased at the tiny hairs along the knuckle and the base of the palm. The heel lifted, and the arm did not move as the leg bent carefully to lay beside the arm, elbow settled into the crook of the knee.

They lay like that for a long while, just feeling the heat from each other’s flesh, the tiny dab of perspiration, the strange alien feel of other flesh. Then the hand begin to explore—gently this time, palm against the base of the foot, fingers playing with toes that played back, examining the shape of the foot, the contour of bone and muscle. Tentatively, the fingers pressed harder into the muscles of the foot, massaging.

The hand worked its way down the leg, fingers moving over the great calf muscle toward the thigh, when the leg slowly rolled over. The arm went limp, flat but wary as the toes dragged the creeping foot onto the back of the arm—and now it was the foot giving the massage, with a rougher, undulating motion as the foot rocked forward and backwards, inching itself along.

The arm and the leg wrestled and felt each other up for what seemed like hours, till both were sore and tired. Then the arm lay down and wrapped itself around the leg, and they drifted off to sleep.


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