Traceworld

Emma Barnes
2 min readJan 29, 2023

In a magical otherland, where people don’t speak but instead join their hands and trace on each others’ palms, the roughness of skin and the size and shape of hands carry meanings like the sounds of voices do on earth.

You wake up there. Your skin is rough and your hands large, and more than that, you’re a lefty. People connect in Traceworld with their right hands, so your difference is felt by others, even if they rarely mention it. You’ve noticed their discomfort all your life. Your less-than status lives in your heart.

Traceworld inhabitants are good people, so they want to help their lesser-thans. They pitch in. They invent lotions to smooth you out, surgeries to shrink your grasp, and sciences to study your disorder. Once you were diagnosed, you began intensive training. You fine-tuned your dexterity. You don’t feel any better for it, of course. Others feel better about you. The constant drip of disdain you have always received slows with your changes. You are acceptable.

Surgeries have invisibilised your difference but they’ve weakened your grip. Lotions have smoothed out your skin, but desensitised it, robbing you of the earthy joy you once gulped from kneading bread dough every night before bed. And the training has endeared you to right-handers but performing for them is exhausting and you still feel uncomfortable tracing with your right hand.

From time to time, you sit with other left-handers. Together you trace comfortably, unjudged. No lefty has ever looked askance at your mits, nor jerked away from your roughness or size. Sometimes you meet a lefty, unaware that is what they are. You offer right hands to each other and the dance begins. You can sense their discomfort. They can sense yours. Unsure of why, you stumble onwards together but apart. Then you ask. “Are you left-handed?”, you trace, with a compassionate pressure. They exhale. “Yes”. And you do too. You both smile and begin to play.

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Emma Barnes

Autistic, trans, survivor, abolitionist @friedkrill on Twitstagram