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The Kitchen Debate
by Larry Hodges
The impossible object lay on the kitchen table. My life, my work, my very existence was dedicated to the fact that it did not, could not, exist. And yet there it was, in all its implausibility.
The Hand of God.
I wanted to run screaming back to the lab, to sanctuary, to live knowing the object did not exist, but I could not. I crept up to it, and under the bright kitchen lights, studied it like any other specimen from the lab.
It lay on its palm, its five thick fingers stretching outward. Old, gray skin stretched thinly over knuckles that bulged as if arthritic. Thin, white hairs sprouted between the knuckles. Scarred tissue covered where the wrist had been severed. It seemed far larger than its actual human-like dimensions. But it was translucent; I could see right through it. It was not real.
"What do you want from me?" I asked, my own hands trembling. Yet it lay silently, unmoving. "You have been rebutted, refuted, rejected. No matter how many people believe in you, there is no scientific evidence for your reality. You do not exist."
The ghostly hand twitched. I jumped back, almost losing my balance. I studied it from a distance. It no longer moved, so I took a deep breath, straightened my lab coat and crept back over to it.
"You are not needed," I explained.
It twitched again. I jumped back, chest heaving, almost falling backward onto the stove. I stood still for a moment, trying to control my breathing. "You are not wanted!" I cried, keeping my distance from this menace.
The hand slowly rolled over on its back, its outstretched fingers coming together. It rotated about until the fingers pointed toward me. Then the fingers curled back, then forward; over and over it beckoned me to join its multitudes.
I shuddered at the idea. I felt my eyes grow wide as I looked about feverishly for a weapon to stop its ruthless spread. There, on a cutting board next to the stove, lay the sharp knife I'd used that afternoon. Bits of carrot and tomato still lay along its edge. I grabbed the blade, and held it outstretched toward this inexorable, imaginary force. Unlike the hand, the blade was real, the blade was truth.
"Stay away from me!" I shrieked. The hand stopped gesturing, and seemed to consider me from across the room. It extended its index finger toward me, disarming me as the knife shot out of my grasp. There was no defense.
I fell to the floor, unable to deal with this relentless global force. A shiver went down my spinal cord, the product of billions of years of evolution. I curled up, covering my eyes with my hands, and rocked side to side for several minutes, freezing out unwelcome, despairing thoughts. Finally, I lay still. I lowered my hands and peered over my fingers.
The hand beckoned me again. I gasped, and choked back a sob. I couldn't fight it any longer.
It was over. Billions of clamoring voices were too much for me. What is truth when it is so badly outnumbered? Tears streamed down my face as I stared at the hand. It seemed to stare back. Did it matter that it was not real? I removed my lab coat and threw it aside. Useless.
"Darwin, Darwin, why have you forsaken me?" I cried, not expecting or getting an answer from my overpowered idol.
I watched in awe as the illusory Hand of God rose up above the table and clenched its triumphant fist. I would no longer be an outcast as I joined the multitudes, an empty smile across my enlightened face.
I've read it 3 times now, and I still don't know what to think. It's definately a metaphor for religion's call to each individual, but this hand story is very dis-arm-ing (Ha ha! Couldn't help myself!) Nicely done, very odd in a good way. Michele Dutcher
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