Aphelion Issue 250, Volume 24
May 2020
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The Fingering

by Nikhil Kshirsagar

There was this time I hated being touched.

Not by other people, mind you. It's just that every now and then, since I was 11, I'd get felt up all over the back of my neck by phantom fingers. I counted, there were 10 distinct touches and each one had a sharp end like a nail or something.

They'd usually run up and down my neck, stopping where my head began, running up and down the spine sometimes, but mostly the neck. I twisted and turned trying to see if an invisible man was playing a trick on me. (I lacked logic back then)

This went on for a few years. It wasn't always that I had invisible hands running up and down my neck, you see, they chose certain moments to make their presence felt. At other times, I was a completely normal kid, worried about the usual things in life one should be worried about at that age. (girls)

Many years later (and many phantom neck rubs later), I swiped the back of my neck for no particular reason, and caught hold of these fingers (with my fingers). They were about to embark on yet another self satisfying neck rub. I caught them in the act.

Amazed, I wasn't going to let go, and instead melded them into my own by sheer force and willpower. (and cold fusion). It wasn't that they were attached to also invisible hands. I didn't expect hands. I knew there would be empty space where wrist and hands were expected. Fingers I can deal with, but no wrist, thank god, no hands..

They seemed to want to rub the back of other folks necks, but I really wanted them to try to do something constructive, so I redirected them to a guitar and tried to teach them how to play. The first few months were a struggle, but then they got the hang of it.

I know what you're thinking. You think I'm trying to pass off bad guitar playing on someone else. You think I'm trying to shift the blame. yeah? But I guess there's only so much guitar one can play until one gets bored..

And believe it or not, the other day they retracted into my wrist, then hands, and went all the way up to the neck (crawling backwards on their knuckles, so to speak) and began to do what they used to. From the inside. They discovered my Adam's apple and had a ball with it.

I just hope they don't go any further, otherwise they've got me by the balls.

2019 Nikhil Kshirsagar

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