“Your daughter has chirophobia, Mrs. Lang.”

The doctor’s eyes were green. Sincere. Hateful. His hair was just beginning to turn silver, and in the middle of his forehead there was a frown line that would some day soon become a wrinkle. Permanent. It reminded Katherine of her mother’s admonition: “Don’t make that face or it will stay that way forever!”

Now the doctor was the one making the face. Katherine turned to her mother and saw the same frown line mirrored in her face.

“What’s that?”

“It’s the fear of hands.”

At the sound of the word, Katherine willed herself not to look at the doctor’s hands, at her mother’s hands. Or hers. But her eyes turned downward as if of their own accord and fixed on the paper-thin surface of her own hands. Thin, like the surface of a lake during late winter. The green-blue veins like snakes swimming silent beneath. Suddenly, Katherine felt as though she was drowning, the breath catching in her throat like fish in a net.

Mrs. Lang closed her hand over her daughter’s hand.

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