big hands

The lenses are so heavy if Tom didn’t have nostrils his glasses would slide straight off.
‘Hello!’ he says, throwing the door wide, his head tipped back, his face scrunched up with the effort of focus. ‘Who are you, then?’
‘I’m Jim from the Rapid Response Team at the hospital. Come to see Evelyn.’
‘Mam? You’d better come in, then.’
He stomps off ahead of me. I’m tempted just to steal his magic harp and be off down the beanstalk, but I’ve got a job to do, so I close the door quietly and follow him in.
‘She’s through here’ he booms, ‘…with everything else!’
By everything else he means a single bed, commode, zimmer frame, footstool, pile of blankets, coffee table strategically covered with glasses of squash, remote controls, tissue boxes and anything else Evelyn might need to hand.
‘I was only supposed to be here the weekend,’ she says, mournfully. ‘Looks like I’ve landed for good.’
Evelyn was out in the garden feeding the birds. There’d been some rain overnight and the patio was wet. She slipped over and hurt her hip. The good news is the x-ray didn’t show a fracture; the bad news is that the injury may take a few weeks to fully heal.
‘I feel such a fool,’ she says.
‘We’re both injured,’ says Tom.
‘Why? What happened to you?’
‘I was doing my martial arts,’ he says, repositioning his glasses. ‘I was fighting this other guy, and when I went to chop him like this…’ he demonstrates with an Austin Powers Judo Chop ‘…he brought his leg up, and I fetched him one on the knee.’
He looks a bit disappointed, as if the other guy hadn’t been playing the game.
‘I really hurt my hand… look.’
He holds it out to me. I can’t see any sign of trauma, but I tut sympathetically.
‘Still – a good way to keep fit!’ I tell him.
‘Oh don’t!’ says Evelyn. ‘I don’t like to hear about it.’
‘It is a good way to keep fit,’ says Tom. ‘Before each session they make you do press ups, and squat jumps… and stretches…’ He gets down on the floor and spreads his legs. It’s an awkward manoeuvre, not just because of the bed and all the clutter, but because frankly he’s overweight and his jeans are about to explode. He struggles up again and repositions his glasses.
‘And after that, they get you running laps round the dojo. That’s what they call it where you practise, like. The dojo.’
He’s out of breath.
‘And then what?’
‘Then you fight. I’m an orange belt. Look!’
He opens a drawer and pulls out an orange belt, in case I needed proof.
‘That’s great!’
‘It goes yellow, orange, blue, brown then black. So not long now.’
‘Nope. Keep on doing it. You’ll get there.’
‘I just signed up for a woodworking class.’
‘What’re you going to do? Cut the wood up with your hands?’
‘No. They’ve got a circular saw for that.’
‘Probably best.’
‘I don’t like to hear about no circular saw,’ says Evelyn. ‘I can’t bear to think about that blade and your hands.’
‘What these?’ says Tom, waggling his enormous paws in front of her. ‘Don’t worry! I’ll hang on to ‘em, mam!’
Then, as if to demonstrate one of the things his hands are good for, he takes his glasses off to clean them on his jumper, delicately holding them up to the light by the rims, breathing on them – hah / hah, front / back – and putting them on again.
‘Anyway,’ he says, the glasses slipping straight back down. ‘First few weeks is just admin.’

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