He Has Gentle Hands

Miles lay on his side with his back to his bedroom door. His hands curled under his cheek, turning his pillow into a knotted mass though the rest of his bed remained soft.

Miles had not slept all night and now he felt the light of dawn peeking through the half-drawn curtains over the windows to his left. The sun-rays warmed the tangled bedsheets he lay on.

Up the long hall in the main bedchamber, his mother probably cradled a newborn baby by now. The thought soured Miles further and he shut his eyes to the darkness he was used to seeing since he was blind.

The bedroom door opened. Miles refused to roll over and greet his father, knowing it was him by the sound of his footsteps. The bed shifted and Father’s warmth crept onto the bed behind him. Father put a hand on Miles’ shoulder. “Do you want to come say hello to the new member of our family?”

“No,” Miles said shortly. He hesitated. “Can the baby see?”

Father settled behind him and kept his hand on Miles’ shoulder. “Yes, the baby can see.”

“Go away,” Miles murmured, squeezing his blind eyes shut tighter.

“The baby may not be blind,” Father said. “But that does not mean we will love you any less.”

“But you will love the baby more,” Miles said. “I know you will because I cannot do everything the baby will be able to.”

“Miles,” Father said. “You know that is not true.”

“Edward said his parents told him the same thing!” Miles cried. “But now he is just the heir to the estate and his sister gets all the attention.”

Father’s arm slid under Miles and pulled him into an embrace. Miles wriggled as Father’s hand brushed his loose, dark hair off his forehead. “What is true for Edward’s family, Miles, is not true for ours. When you were born, you brought us as much joy as the baby waiting to hear you say hello.”

Miles rolled flat onto his back and felt his hair flop back into his sightless eyes. “Is it a girl or a boy?”

“You have a sister, Miles,” Father answered. “Your mother is dying for you to come see her.”

Miles curled onto his side again. “No. What if—what if the baby does not understand I-I cannot see?”

“She is your sister. Of course she will understand.”

“But that is not true!” Miles cried. “Because Edward says his sister is cruel to him when she teases, and his father spanks him when he teases back.”

Miles sensed Father frown. “Miles, you have to stop listening to Edward.”

Miles clenched his pillow to his face for comfort, but the pillow was damp with his sorrow and refused to muffle his sniffles. “I do not want to listen to him, but he makes me.”

“The way Edward is learning to behave is exactly the way he does not want to be treated,” Father said. “He is learning unhealthy cycles because he has never known anything else. Look at me, Miles.”

Miles shoved away the hot pillow and turned his face to where he knew Father’s eyes were. Father’s hands curled over his small ones and squeezed them.

“You cannot believe every evil Edward whispers down your ear, Miles. We are not Edward’s family; we are your family. You have a sister, yes, but we have never hit you and we will not hit her. There is change ahead, but I promise you it is good change and your sister will be treated with as much respect as we treat you.”

“Even though she can see?” Miles said.

“Even though she can see,” Father answered firmly.

Miles stretched his legs and his bare feet touched the cool bedspread. “I think . . . I would like to meet her.”

Father slid off the bed and Miles followed, reaching for his father’s hand. They walked from the small chamber to the end of the hall and entered the quiet bedchamber Miles was accustomed to creeping into at night.

Miles knew the way past the dresser and wardrobe onto to the carpet that led to the bed and he felt to make sure there was room for him before he climbed onto the bed.

Mother’s slender hand landed on Miles’ knee. “I am so glad you came.”

Miles found a spot beside Mother between two pillows and the headboard. “Does . . . my sister have a name?”

“Well,” said Mother. “I think she wants to be called Anna. Do you want to hold her?”

“I do not know,” Miles said. “Will she mind?”

“Let us find out,” Mother suggested.

Miles held still as a warm bundle touched his lap. He felt where Mother’s hands guided him and encountered the smooth, warm skin of Anna’s face. And touching her made him smile.

“I do not know why I listened to Edward. She is beautiful.”

Note: Miles also appears in Down A Country Lane, Little Boy Blind, Alone At Edgware Estate, and Edward Said.

Photo by Katherine Chase on Unsplash

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20 thoughts on “He Has Gentle Hands

Add yours

  1. Beautiful story! Edward can be any other voices around us that hinders us from knowing or feeling like the truth. I’m glad Miles has overcome this and listened to his Father.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh no! This behavior can be common for older siblings with a newborn. But I can totally relate to that double standard. It is great that Miles ended up holding the baby. Always nice to see a change of heart and learning some insights of how others perceive certain actions!

    Nancy ✨ exquisitely.me

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful. The fears one can hold, the negative input from ones peers and sound parenting, all conveyed with a delicate touch in this moving story. Well written Jaya.

    Liked by 1 person

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