KM Elkes
June 2018 First Prize

Extremities

by KM Elkes

The way Bobby told it, one minute he was working the chainsaw and the next he was on the forest floor, wondering why there was nothing on the end of his arm.

The rest of the crew reckoned his hand got spun into a ravine. Nobody wanted to waste time searching while Bobby bled out. Logging accidents happen all the time - there’s extremities all over those woods.

When he got out of hospital, they gave him a party. I found Bobby outside, smoking a cigarette with his wrong hand. I’d brought him towels, stolen from the hotel in town where I have a summer job.

“Can I see?” I asked.

Bobby slid off the mitten they had given him to keep the stump clean. The end was puckered with stitches like sewn up lips. The skin flap they had stretched over had little hairs growing out.

“How’s it feel?” I said.

“My ghost fingers hurt at night,” he said.

“They say you get used to it.” I had no idea if that was true.

Bobby shook his head. “Funniest thing, right after it happened, it started raining. That sound, man. I thought it was people clapping. For me.”

I left the party early. I had to be at the hotel before my boss arrived - she’s a failed ballerina and bitter about it. I stay on her good side so she doesn’t find out about the towels or the cutlery or all the other things I’ve stolen. That job is my ticket out of these trees.

When I went, I saw Bobby alone again, holding out his stump up like he expected something to grow from it. I didn’t feel bad for him. I just felt sorry for the other hand, out in those woods, fingers curled, grasping at nothing.

About the Author

KM Elkes is an award-winning short fiction writer and editor from the West Country, UK. His flash fiction successes include winning the Fish Publishing Flash prize and the Triskele Books prize as well as winning or being placed in a number of international competitions, including the Bridport prize. His work has been broadcast on BBC Radio and appeared in more than 20 anthologies as well as many literary journals and e-zines. His short fiction has also featured on the school curriculum in the USA and Hong Kong. He is a Best Small Fictions Nominee 2018 and is a co-editor of the A3 Review magazine. He has also been guest editor of Flash Frontier in New Zealand.

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