It started small, a tiny lump in the middle of his forehead. A few days later, it was large. exactly as if he’d banged his head, and caused a swelling. He thought back, but had no recollection of knocking his head. No-one at the office said anything, but he often heard them whispering and laughing as they pointed at him. He put up with it, figuring that it’d only be there for a few days. It wasn’t until the second and third lumps appeared, and he noticed that the first lump had a fingernail at the end that he went to the doctors.

His GP was Doctor Gregson. He said “How usual. Looks like a finger tip. Does it hurt?”

Tony replied no. “Nothing to worry about then.” Tony left his doctors office, pausing after closing the door. He felt angry and upset, as if the doc hadn’t really listened to him. And he felt his finger (the one on his forehead) wriggle. So that was new.

A week later, there were four fingers. Stuck together, and cupped upward. Tony bought a hooded top with a peak at the front to cover it. People at the office now stopped and stared, openly fascinated. No-one ever asked him about it.

By the end of the third week, it had stopped growing. It was a hand. All the way to the wrist. He’d been back to the Doctor several times, had some blood tests, given a skin sample from one of the fingers. Nothing malignant. He was healthy, apparently, so healthy he now had extra bits. Work had just about become bearable. He was all but able to ignore the reactions. Until Steve.

Steve was Tony’s supervisor. Steve liked Tony, but Tony couldn’t stand Steve. He hated him. Steve popped into Tony’s cubical for one of his little chats. He’d often give Tony some work, then spend a while excitedly showing him pictures of girls on tinder who had replied to him the once. Just as Tony thought ‘I wish he’d go away’, the hand on his forehead started to wriggle. There was a sound like tearing paper as the fingers split apart. Tony felt it. It didn’t hurt. Then the hand clenched. All but the middle finger. Crap! He was giving his boss the finger. El Birdo. He pulled up his hood, just as Steve looked up from ‘kelly’. “Hot yeah?” he offered. Just as the hand wriggled, threw off the hood, and once again, proudly gave the finger. Steve didn’t say anything, but his eyes wandered up to Tony’s forehead, and lingered. Tony felt the hand loosen then clench. It knew Steve was looking at it, and wanted to emphasize the bird. They stayed like that for a good, long, eternal ten seconds. Steve looking at the hand on Tony’s forehead insulting him. “Uh, so how do you feel about working from home?” he asked.

Months passed. Tony got used to his new routine. The hand seemed to only have four gestures; a side to side slap. A fist, the finger, and a first and second fingers ‘a-okay’ thing. He was never completely sure what set it off. Sometimes, he was convinced that the hand was a different person sticking out of his head. Other times, yeah, he pretty much agreed with it, but it was nothing he’d ever dare comment on out loud. He tried putting up mirrors near his work station, so he could see the hand. But anytime he went near them the hand attacked them. He’d smashed a good dozen before realizing the way forward. His webcam. The hand didn’t seem to mind at all, in fact, it seemed to like it, often posing and preening itself when the camera was turned on. Then, after a hard session, working all the way to a tough deadline, Tony fell asleep at his desk. He awoke, in a puddle of drool, to discover he’d become an internet sensation. While he’d been sleeping, the hand had uploaded all the footage of it gesturing as Tony went about his day. the first video had been up for six hours, and had close to a million hits. The hand had uploaded twenty videos in all. The most popular ones were the hand reacting to news reports, or Tony posting replies on facebook. That was it, Tony went back to the doctors, and pleaded to have the hand removed. The Doctor had a counter proposal; Dr Gregson wanted to study the hand and write a paper about it. The hand clearly liked that idea, so Tony left and never went back. He gave up, and started sleeping at his computer desk. It didn’t take long, a few weeks, all told. He had an income from the videos, t-shirts, mugs, mousemats. Baseball caps with hands on the front. Hell, the hand had managed to write and publish an e-book about ‘living with a coward: tactics and strategies”, And had its own website, facehand dot com. Tony became a shell. His life seemed to only be happening while he slept. His sole purpose seemed to be to put himself into online situations so the hand could react. Tony never liked waking up, but he started to like sleeping.

But the hand was its own undoing. The book became a best seller, and the hand had a print run of a few thousand made up. But as the books were being delivered, the truck driver overloaded the crate, and it fell. The hand urged Tony forward, and he tried to catch it. It landed on his arm, crushing his left hand completely. The pain was terrible. He woke in hospital, with a team of Doctors around him. “Very pleased to meet you, Tony” Said one of them, comically shaking the hand on his forehead. “Good job you’ve got a spare!”.

So that was that. His forehead hand became his left hand. It no longer held sway over his life. He went back to the office, and life was easier. It still popped the bird, tried to hit people, but it was just a hand, in the right place. And even if he wasn’t in full control of it, he felt as if he was.

And that’s an important distinction.

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