No Hands!

by Pung Worathiti

I ordered a cappuccino. She ordered Vanilla Milkshake Venti. In winter? I asked. She said yes. She needed it.

We sat at the table and she started to drink her Milkshake long and hard. Half of it was gone in a few seconds. Her eyes were wide open. She shook her head and made a meaningless high-pitched voice.

Like a drug addict who just had their fix.

Like a runner who just got their runner’s high.

“Why did you do that?” I asked
“Do you know what causes brain freeze?”
“When something cold touches the roof of your mouth, it cools your sinuses and makes your blood vessels shrink. Then your sinuses try to warm themselves, which causes pain in your nerves.”

She gulped. Then continued.

“And if you have brain freeze long enough, you will remember this forever.”
“Remember what?”
“This,” she pointed at herself, “don’t you want to remember this forever?”

I paused for a moment.

“Yes, of course,” I said.

She handed over the big cup. I took it from her hand.

“All of it, at once,” she commanded.

I put the straw in my mouth, glanced at her as if I were asking her permission. She nodded, held my hand, and gave it a small push towards my mouth.

Ice particles flew through, hitting my tongue and then the roof of my mouth. Flowing like a river during the rainy season. I tasted the sweetness of cold vanilla. She squeezed my hand and told me to keep going. The whole place suddenly smelled like the night when my mother brought me a hot chocolate, read me a bedtime story, and kissed me goodnight.

And just like injecting heroin directly into the bloodstream, when it hits you, it never holds back. My mind was clear and wide open. I traveled to a very strange place where the light was so bright and everything was so blurry.

I’m right here, with her.


“Look, mom!” I shouted, “No hands!”

She didn’t turn.

“Mom look!” I shouted again

I lost my balance and touched the handle, turned my bike around, set straight, and peddled forward. Once I gained enough speed, I lifted both of my hands in the air again.


Still, she didn’t turn. Her black hair played along with the slow wind. The summer breeze sounded like someone was blowing quietly into a trumpet's mouthpiece. Her hair fluttered and lifted showing a part of a faded rose tattoo on her neck.

“Mom!” I shouted, as loud as a three-year-old can. “No hands!”

I then fell to the ground. My elbow hit the concrete floor. The pain went through my whole body. She glanced at me for a few seconds with the corner of her eyes and then walked away.


Years later, I met my sister at her son’s birthday party. I mentioned the time when mom abandoned me at the park.

“What are you talking about? You don’t remember?” She said, “That was not mom. Mom died long before you even knew how to walk.”

That’s when I remember it all.


Worathiti Manosroi

First published in Arcana