Fingers of Expectation
by B. Lynn Goodwin
“We’re multiplying,” Wilma’s fingers say. “We are your fingers of expectation. Do more. Do more!”
Wilma sighs. She craves retirement from her work-at-home job. Her husband resists retirement and loves productivity. So she works. She makes lists and checks things off.
1. Write the report.
2. Walk Eddie McPuppers.
3. Or let him walk you.
4. Respond to e-mail.
5. Bill and pay bills.
6. Count the stats on the Covid-19 pandemic.
A twelfth finger is now emerging, inching out next to her left pinkie. A perfect finger, complete with polished nail. Magenta, with a dripping black rose near the tip. The eleventh finger came out in her sleep.
7. Breathe, Wilma. Don’t leave your body.
If she looks at each finger through a magnifying glass, they turn Christmas tree green and she can read the lists of tasks in snowflake white.
8. Study the specs.
9. Channel the messages.
10. Burkle the blurff.
Wilma reads the last one twice. “Burkle the blurff?” What does that even mean? What do all these tasks mean?
“Time’s a-fleeing, Wilma,” the right thumb says in English. It wiggles, and Wilma thinks of Jackie, who will be five on August 6.
Wilma releases the thumb and shakes her fingers. The finger-lists drip away. She breathes in freedom. Her jingling Grandpad summons her. Jackie wants to show her a new fluffy bunny. “When can you come play with me?” she asks.
“When the moon sets and the sun rises.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means I love you and you are always in my heart.”
“Here’s Mama,” says Jackie, who thinks Wilma is her own personal Mother Goose.
That night her husband asks, “What did you do today?”
She shakes her fingertips until they look like spider legs clawing the air and says, “Let go of time and talked to your granddaughter. You?”
He grabs a Coke and a glass of ice. Wilma the Weird he thinks, but he doesn’t say it out loud. He loves her weirdness, even when he doesn’t understand it.
* * * * *
Writer and editor B. Lynn Goodwin owns Writer Advice, www.writeradvice.com. She’s the author of an award-winning YA, Talent, and an award-winning memoir, Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62, plus a collection of journaling prompts, flash pieces, and short articles. Her flash fiction was recently published in Nebo, Cabinet of Heed, Murmur of Words, and 100-Word Stories.