Cindy Carrier

(January 2006 drabble)


We call ourselves the Mighty Defenders, protectors against all that can maim or crush, bruise or bleed. Sturdy but supple, we are well broken in; labor and sweat have molded us to his form, and our exquisitely crafted elk skin becomes his skin once he slips into us.  Our palms crease where his do, and our fingers wrap each of his in a carefully sewn sheath.  Thus encased, we prevent the break of skin and bone, guarding the important human response of touch.  So perfect is our grip, so devoted are we to him that he must remove us one finger at a time, loosening our loving grasp from each digit before drawing us away.  But, oh, are we proud of our work; thanks to our vigilance, his hands always remain strong and whole, the nails short, the cuticles intact.  Only the calluses across his palms and on his thumbs remain, and these we have worked to help him develop as a testament to the hours of labor performed in his working day. 

He’s no stranger to hand wear; we knew that the day he found us in the store, our new golden leather glowing and unblemished, our scent fresh and sharp.  His eye roved over our deerskin cousins but it was us that he touched, that he lifted up to examine.  We fairly shivered when he slid his long fingers over our length to caress our cool, leather exterior.  We were silent but proud as he separated our fingers to examine our flawless stitching, turned our wrists inside out to scrutinize our suede lining.  We knew right then that he was a man who demanded quality, for himself and for his tools.  And then he tried us for a fit, drawing his fingers into our leather tunnels, and we yielded as softly as a loving virgin, warmed ourselves to his hands even as he flexed them and brought us even closer to him, softened and took our first impressions of his grip.   We’ve rarely left him since that day and have proudly served him sense. 

We’re worn for work and work we do, hauling hay, loading supplies, guiding reins.  We hammer, we lift, we sort, we wrap and tie, but most of all we protect.  We are far from delicate and have no desire to be – fanciness we leave to our distant gray cousins that first accompanied him to his new home.  We met them only once, a chance encounter in a drawer when we were first purchased.  Our dressy, overbearing relatives scoffed at our plainness and our lack of design, but wilted when we asked them about their future.  Oh, they tried to hide behind their condescension, tried to bolster their importance by describing the sorry condition of his discarded cavalry issue, predicted that our demise would be as bleak.  But we did not take heed of their boasts, and could only hurrah our lost cavalry friends who had surely and loyally served him during those deep days.  The gray worsteds have their place, to be sure.  Their purpose is for decoration, and there has been precious little time for that in the months since he’s arrived here.  Now our dove-colored little cousins cry from the darkness of that drawer but he has yet to listen.  And we smile with selfishness, confident in ourselves.

We accompany him for hours and are always close by even when not in use.  He often allows a rest inside the warm recess of his hat.  Sometimes he positions us across the butt of his gun and we have quiet conversations with the thick leather that rides his hips and thigh, comparing our styles and uses.  And sometimes he tucks us behind him  – temporarily but with care – out of the way in that spot under his belt.  We snug ourselves up tight and wait for him to reach around and pluck us up again, tapping our slack fingers against one firm buttock as he moves, softly reminding him that we are nearby and ready for use.




We awaken from our doze, warm in our bed inside his hat, our fingers still curled with the contours of his wear.  We’re curious – our workday ended some hours ago.  It’s late; the big room is bright with shiny light.  But we know his step – tonight it is light on the stairs.  For a moment we hope – perhaps we’ll go with him…

But he removes us from our bed and hangs us back on the stand.  Still we check – yes, his hands are all right, clear and unblemished and now freshly cleaned.  We check the rest of him as he whistles softly.  He’s washed and changed.  A night on the town, then, a dance from the looks of his jacket and tie.  Tonight those long, strong fingers will hold the hand of a pretty girl, maybe cup her waist for a nice waltz, or share a cup of punch.  Perhaps they’ll touch her hair or her face.  And she’ll grasp him in return and marvel at the strong perfect skin, the healthy appearance that we’ve helped him maintain.

He probably won’t need us tomorrow, either – we know how these weekends go.  But on Monday morning he’ll reach for us again and we’ll be there, ready to go back to work, lifting and hauling and riding close, ever so close.

We are, after all, the Mighty Defenders.



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