The New Hand


James woke up after his operation and looked at his new right hand. It didn’t look too bad. The skin colouration was fairly similar to his own left hand, and he could now wiggle his fingers on his new right hand a  little.

He was quite excited that he would now have the use of both his hands again. He wondered if he would be able to throw a dart accurately with it. He had lost the use of his right hand a few years ago after an industrial accident, which meant he had to learn how to throw a dart left-handed, which had never been very successful.

After the surgeon was satisfied everything was healing up alright, and that everything worked correctly, James was discharged from hospital and he went back to work at his local brewery. For a few months it was difficult retraining his hand to function correctly, but soon James felt that everything was back to normal. He was back in his darts team, and throwing his fair share of bulls eyes with his right arm, just like he used to do.

Only one thing was bothering him. His right hand just wouldn’t keep still. He kept drumming the table with his fingers, as if he were a pianist. He wondered if perhaps the previous owner of the hand had been a pianist. He had not been told who the donor was, just that he had been killed in a car accident. James could play the piano a little before his accident, but was not very good, however after a darts session with his mates, he sat down at the piano in his local pub and started to play his old familiar “Chopsticks”. Curiously he was suddenly playing an extremely complicated succession of notes with his right hand, while his left hand was just sticking to the original notes that he knew so well. His mates all applauded him and asked him to play some more. James knew a few other pieces, and the same thing happened when he played them. He was convinced that the donor must have been a concert pianist.

After that, James bought himself an electric piano – one of those that will do some automatic tunes with the left hand. He was able to play some very intricate tunes with his right hand, whilst his left was just keying out the easy harmony. James suddenly had a new hobby. He would practice whenever he got a spare moment, and gradually improved his left hand skills as well. It wasn’t long before people were asking him to play at weddings or parties, and he got a regular booking in his local on a Saturday night.

Inevitably, his fame spread, and more people flocked into the pub to hear him. One girl, Emma, who said she was a budding opera singer asked if he would play for her while she cut a record. He readily agreed, and very soon they became firm friends and eventually people regarded them as a couple.

James and Emma started getting engagements together, then started travelling around the county with a small orchestra. Life couldn’t be better. After a Christmas Eve performance of “The Messiah”, James drove Emma back to her house. She had asked him to spend Christmas with her. They had a few drinks and then went to bed.

********************

James woke up with a start after having tossed and turned all night. It was daylight, so he realised he had finally been able to sleep for some time. The last time he had looked at the clock it was four o’clock. It was now nine fifteen. He had been in a bad dream, where his hand had a life of its own, and had done all sorts of things beyond his control. A familiar dream to him by now, but it still disturbed him every time he had the recurring dream.

His right hand was hurting. He had felt it twitching all night, but tried to ignore it for Emma’s sake. Emma was still fast asleep, so James got up and went downstairs to make coffee without disturbing her.

Fifteen minutes later, carrying a tray with a couple of glasses of bucks fizz and a jug of hot coffee and some special toasted Christmas bagels, he went back upstairs and into the bedroom. Emma was still asleep face down.

As James gently rolled Emma over and bent to kiss her, her head went lolling over the edge of the bed, bulging eyes staring wide open. With signs of strangulation marks around her neck, Emma was quite obviously dead.

James looked at his aching right hand. It was still twitching.

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