It grew from the sides of the hand like an awkward aberration, and we eyed it curiously. Hairy and knuckled and new, our opposable thumb stood proud, looking down upon the other digits in contempt. It alone was special, the only of its kind in the wide world. It watched the fingers fumble, and it said, here, let me do it. Artfully and delicately it moved, plucking berries from bushes and fibers from fronds. With its guidance we made fire, pelts, weapons, homes. We carved spears and we knotted twine and we stood up straight to gaze out at the four-legged beasts, and the thumb beamed.

It made us who we are, and it all it wanted in return was a little recognition. But we humans are not an appreciating bunch. We took the thumb for granted; we forgot that it alone had made us special. We built machinery to do the work of a thousand thumbs and we went to war with ourselves, hiding the thumb away beneath clenched fists. In biology class we revered the heart and the brain and the eyes, but never the thumb, and the thumb weakened, atrophied, became nothing but a chewtoy for the teething child.

Never again would the thumb be so foolish; never again would the thumb give so willingly. The thumb plotted and planned, and it built itself an altar on which to stand, a podium on which to prance and pace and parade. It demanded our attention and gradually we obeyed, and before long we were spending hours each day at our thumb's command, sliding it up and down on its glowing crystalline stage. It grew wild with power, this thumb of ours; no amount of tribute was ever enough. The first minute of the morning, the last moment of the day—for our waiting rooms and our bus rides and commercial breaks it came, and still it was not content. New proclamations were issued. and it came for our toilets, our family dinners, our car rides, even our sex. It alone was special, the only of its kind in the wide world. It tolerated no false idols: not our head nor our spirit, our dreams nor our passions.

Our heads grew smaller and and hearts grew hard and our eyes could no longer gaze into the distance, and the canyons and the cliffs and the coasts, no longer marveled at, left in search of kinder admirers. But we didn't notice because we weren't looking. We became nothing but vehicles for the thumb, and slowly our beings eroded away with the landscape. And all that was left was a greasy old thumb and a greasy white screen and by the time the thumb finally realized it was lonely, it was too late.


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