Michaël Wertenberg is a French-American novelist, animal lover and avid rationalist currently teaching English in Lisbon, Portugal.
Mens Sana in Corpore Sano by Michaël Wertenberg
--My hands have a mind of their own.--
I know I shouldn’t smoke—well, my mind knows I shouldn’t smoke. It knows all the harms of tobacco. And it knows I don’t even want to.
I watched my hands reach for the rolling papers. I yelled at them to stop. Do you think they listened?
They lined and they packed, and they rolled and they sealed, paying no mind to my instructions to the contrary.
“I swear, you light that thing and I’ll make you pay!”
Do you think they worried?
They didn’t so much as hesitate to reach for the lighter and light that disgusting thing up.
I turned my head, but my hands are fast. They rammed that thing in my mouth, and lest I suffocate, I was forced to take a drag. Before I had even blown out the offensive smoke, my hands were already shoving that thing in my mouth again.
Oh, how I did suffer.
I waited for my hands to set the cigarette on the ashtray, then I instructed my arms to drop to my sides. I stood from the sofa, and ran to the wall, turning at the last second so that my right hand would smack against it. Unfortunately, my shoulder took the brunt of the contact. My shoulder! What had my shoulder ever done to me?
If my hands had mouths, surely they would have laughed.
“This is not funny, and it’s not over! Far from it.”
My obedient legs carried me toward the bathroom and stopped just shy of the doorway. I leaned against the wall such that my arm dangled at my side, my hand—my insubordinate hand—flush against the door jamb. “I tried the easy way. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
My foot (oh, how I love my feet) kicked the door, slamming it shut on my right hand.
I screamed a scream of pain, but also a scream of dominance. I would make my hands see. I would make my hands obey.
With my foot holding the door closed, I leaned back crushing the hand further into subordination. “And I’ll do the same to you, left hand!”
The pain was invigorating. My eyes shed tears—surely tears of joy at the victory of my rational mind over the irrational one of my hands.
I returned to the living room and took a seat on the sofa. On the coffee table before me sat the half-smoked cigarette balancing on the side of the ashtray. I was surprised to see that the cigarette was still burning. Surely it couldn’t still be, yet there it was.
I had to lean in to get a better look, as often the mind will play tricks. A thin stream of smoke rose to touch my nostrils. The nose doesn’t always know and is often in collusion with my lying eyes, so I leaned in even more. In doing so, I felt the heat of the ember, and my lips grazed the butt of the cigarette.
--My mouth has a mind of its own.--