Left Is, Actually, Right… by Gabe Bogart

The Razorback Bunch (Etching VI) by Robert Rauschenberg (1982) via Art Institute of Chicago

            The very second you die, a disembodied voice poses one simple question to you.

            “Were you left- or right-handed?”

            If you were left-handed (or ambidextrous), you go straight to the afterlife. Heaven or Hell or whatever the hell it is that constitutes the afterlife, you’re there, instantly. Skip Purgatory and head straight for the afterlife, but you don’t collect $200 either.

            Now, if you were right-handed? You’re kinda fucked. You are required to serve a sentence in an all-left-handed Purgatory. You right handers never knew how good you had it, did you?

            Left-handed scissors might be your first tribulation. How many times can you make the most off-kilter cuts that are supposed to be at a 90ª angle? All of your grade school teachers guffaw at your inability. Fellow schoolchildren, who were left-handed, transposed from other dimensions of bliss, scorn you for your ineptitude. You feel the shame of a child that is barely accepted or welcomed socially. Then you cut yourself. Not out of self-destructive intent, but fallibly wrong-handed awkwardness.

            When the holidays arrive, you still haven’t mastered left-handed scissors. Your folded, paper snowflakes look, upon unfolding, like they were melting down the outside of a car window. They are warped, from mescaline-drenched clouds unable to form the beauty of fractalled crystals.

            And in every classroom there are only a handful of right-handed desks; one on the end of each row on the right aisle. You are forced to shove and elbow your way through all the other students as you fight a battle royale for those prized desks. The rest of you who failed to beat the other students to the right-handed desks endure an agony previously unbeknownst to you. You sit, furiously trying to take notes; the lecturer is breezing through a detailed and gory history of the Spanish Inquisition. The form of torture you will undergo is far more brilliant and psychologically damaging than the mighty inquisitors ever thought to devise. You will be forced to write with your right elbow hanging in mid-air, off the edge of your left-handed desk. Squirm and struggle to adjust to the landscape of the desk, but you will never find a way to write with your elbow comfortably supported. After only a few days of taking notes like this, you develop carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow.

            Adjusting to pain, frustration, and inconvenience becomes your new modus operandi.

            The spiral notebooks have all been altered – the very physics, form, and function of writing even – to force you to write with the spiral scraping away at your wrist tendons like some impotent claw. It makes writing insufferable, but you must power on. Notes on the history of genocide on planet earth won’t write themselves.

            You begin to experiment with adapting to left-handedness. You fail laboriously, repeatedly, exhaustingly. The disembodied cackles of left-handed children haunt you as you strive to adapt. Discomfort and misery as constant companions are excellent motivators for change.

            Finally, when you are able to sign your name, left-handed and without too much of an ink smudge on the side of your hand, you are eschewed from Purgatory and into the afterlife.

            There, you will present to an angel your most symmetrical paper snowflake, which, of course, you cut left-handed, with right-handed scissors.

Gabe Bogart lives in Seattle, Washington, where he patiently awaits the return of the Seattle Supersonics. He learned to love words in his senior year high school creative writing class and from his sister and mother. It’s been a long time since he took a major road trip and he’d like to do it next in a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Super Sport. His work has appeared in Pareidolia Lit, Hencroft Hub, Collective Realms, TERSE. Journal, Fahmidan Journal, acloserlisten.com, and thesianetwork.com.

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