T H E
F O U N D A T I O N A L I S T
Whorls Amanda Weber Grinnell College
al loved me before I existed, or so he tells me. He loved me when I was nothing but an open face and infinite potential, featureless and formless and ready to be shaped. He says that he created me, but I have my doubts. In the depths of my mind are early memories of gentler hands, that gathered up wet sediment into a little imperfect ball, smoothed out the furrows, and set me out before the world. And then all those casual, hateful, loving, careless grazes that followed, the pinching out of limbs and lineaments until I was something more resembling a person. I have been molded by thousands of palms and fingertips and knuckles and wrists, but Mal insists that his are the hands that matter. He says all of this — not for the first time — as we lie in bed, the first rays of sun slanting in through the far window like slivers of pale glass. The light breaks over my forearm, illuminating the little thin hairs and the whorls of four years’ worth of Mal’s fingerprints. They form an overlapping, looping pattern like fish scales. Mal gets out of bed with considerable effort and shuffles off to the bathroom, yawning so wide that I can see glinting canines, pink gums, and the black of his throat all at once. When the door has closed behind him, I press my thumb hard to my wrist for a couple of seconds and then pull it away. Not a single mark. I cannot tell if it is because of a lack of fingerprints of my own or a lack of conviction. Mal yells through the water and the wall between us, calls me babe, requests that I make breakfast. I ask if he wants eggs or oatmeal. He tells me I need to start making decisions.