Consultations with an 8 Year Old Palm Reader



They say to look at one’s hands for their life story. In elementary school, the girls ran around the playground, rapidly flipping each kid’s hand over, searching for messages through the intersecting lines of our palms.

“See? It makes an ‘M.’ That means you’ll get married,” a girl delicately traced the creases of my palm.

“Doesn’t everyone have an ‘M’ on their palm?” I replied suspiciously. “Everyone would get married.”

“No, my best friend’s palm has a ‘D.’ That means she’ll get divorced.”


Clearly the logic in this 8 year old’s prophecies was not thought through.

Reading a book about trains, it appears. (2011)

During my nihilist stages of elementary school, I did not believe that our futures are predetermined by the friction ridges of our skin. Yet as years went on I came to notice more and more  minute details within our hands.

Painting my hand (2007)

As a four year old in preschool, the art station was my favorite. I liked to press my thumb into soft ink pads to imprint on random papers and marvel at the whorls. It is a pattern that belongs to me, solely me. Each human’s fingerprints are unique, a dizzying combination of DNA strands composing the delicate and irreplaceable designs of our skin.

My first piano teacher mandated that my nails be cut short, for it is impossible to play piano well with long nails. Spitefully, I liked to grow them out and hear my long nails clack impractically against the keys. My first professional manicure was expensive, nonfunctional and gorgeous: bright pink gels. I finally understood why people could just stare at their nails forever. But I always grew tired of them, clipping them back to nubs, even after I quit playing. Nails are a test of patience.

My mother bites the skin around her nails a lot, absentmindedly. She hunches over a desktop computer, debugging a line of code or reading her WhatsApp group chats. Hangnails form, evidence of a deep trance in thought. They bleed when the cold winter air blows in. I wondered why she kept up this habit when she looks down and is constantly reminded of it. Worries can be seen near one’s cuticles.

First grade project named “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep”

I always despised monkey bars. I was not (nor still am) gifted with natural upper body strength, even less so with the determination to improve it. After shamefully letting go from my tumultuous journey of three monkey bars, I would glance at the burning sensation of my palms. Temporary blisters formed at the points below my fingers where I gripped so dearly for life. One’s risk tasking and strength is shown in their blisters and calluses.


Perhaps the service-fee-free palm readers of the Farmington Woods Elementary playground were spouting nonsense but I believe they were just searching in the wrong places. Our fates aren’t pre-written into the creases of our palms, it’s hidden in our hands.

Our hands hold the physical permanence of our identity. They are the products of our genetics and history, passed down from centuries upon centuries. Our hands are the vessels of creation and action: to invent, to power, to caress. As I type these words now, as the stories flow onto my screen, I observe the less visible stories within. The past, present, and future: it’s all in the palm of our hands.