comfort creative non-fiction

Obviously Five Believers

Palmistry advises Ellen Muller that her crooked fingers are a sign of her dishonesty – and she can't shake the feeling that something about her has been revealed.

by Ellen Muller

In palmistry, crooked pinkie fingers are meant to signify a dishonest and overall shiftiness of character. During an occult teen phase this seemingly insignificant piece of trivia upset me much more than it reasonably should have done.

How is it that even now, even when I feel as though I ought to be above superstition, this lingering fear – that perhaps my bent fingers reveal a true sinister nature I can’t consciously admit to myself – remains capable of sparking little bursts of self-questioning?

I wonder if good people think like this. Do good people find themselves worrying excessively on the train ride home that their thoughts have always floated above their head, visible to everyone, and nobody’s ever told them?

They wouldn’t need to. Their mind would be pure; it would perfectly complement their external self.

Maybe I’m not a nice person. Nice people don’t have to place themselves under this level of scrutiny. They can be self-assured. Be confident in the integrity of their moral character. Their Mr Hyde would be just be Dr Jekyll again but this time he’s wearing a hat.

“This lingering fear – that perhaps my bent fingers reveal a true sinister nature I can’t consciously admit to myself – remains capable of sparking little bursts of self-questioning”

A faith in the lines and contours of each hand – as maps we are destined to forever carry – is quite poetic. Have mine been attempting to warn benevolent strangers away? How wide is the shadow that pessimism and rigid bitterness casts on my soul? And what pieces of my external appearance has it gradually moulded across time?

Is there is a specific aetiology I could trace to find the single root cause of my incapacity to move on from past hurt?

Maybe a bigger person would be able to let go. Yet my mind incessantly replays lost fragments until they fester into an anger I can’t do anything with.

Is there are distinction between being a bad person and being a person who inadvertently becomes a negative influence? Quick to recognise it in others – could I recognise it in myself?

There’s meant to be ‘a certain seductiveness about what is dead’. And despite their desperate need for burial, the personal assortment of dead moments I clutch onto do tend to glisten. Their initial beauty long tarnished, yet each stays in pristine condition like I’m a collector of antique action-figures who refuses to take them out of their original packaging.

They glisten with a refusal to naturally decompose like the chip on my shoulder is a diamond.

Was it meant to happen for a reason?

Would a better person be able to look back and smile with complete assurance that where their life is at this point in time, is exactly where it should be?

I wish timing’s unpredictability and behemoth-level influence was a force that excited me.

As a teenager, when I adamantly believed in cosmic divinity – at the very least it was comfortable. Now I’m alone, in a world where the shape of your hand is probably inconsequential, the future is unknowable and a full-level of self-awareness is arguably unattainable.

Maybe that absence will always be there . . . Dishonesty points towards my incapacity to acknowledge the full extent of a latent void. But I shouldn’t need my hands to tell me that.  


Ellen Muller

Ellen Muller is a Melbourne-based publishing student in her final year of study. She keeps a satirical literature blog called Poe’s Very Attractive Cousin and volunteers at zine space Sticky Institute.

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