He hates his hands because they are bad they are *bad hands* with long, long fingers and dirt grained into the cracks of skin and mud speckled over his yellowed nails and he flecks mud on the gold, yes, he gets the shiny surface dirty and that won’t do, that won’t do at all. The Precious must be kept clean, yes, clean, Precious, no dirty mud splattered over it, no dirty fingerprints and so he dips it into the cold water, yes, right into the cold water until it gleams in the dark. He holds it up to his eye, and he looks through it, he whispers to it. He tells it his secrets, and he has no more secrets, not here, not in the dark because there is no one to keep anything secret from. There is just him, and the Precious, and he listens as his voice gurgles off the cold stone walls, and ripples into the water, and he listens more for the Precious because it can talk back, it can, it can. And he catches fish with his hands, his very, very bad hands the hands that he used to climb trees with but no more trees, no more trees here, no Precious, no trees.
The trees are too tall and too high and too bright and in the trees there are birds with their nasty feathers and dirty calls and their beady dark eyes that see things which shine and sparkle in the light. They cannot see the Precious for they will want it, yes, they will, and who can blame them because it is beautiful, yes, beautiful but it is *his* and no one else’s and they shan’t have it. No, they shan’t. And he has never liked trees anyway, never liked climbing them because he has never been a fast climber he has bad hands, that’s what they told him, that’s what they said. He would wrap his fingers all the way around the branches and *squeeze* and pull himself up and up and then he was so far away from the ground, and the water, and he was afraid of the sky, yes he was. It was so big and blue and open and he didn’t trust it, not one bit, so he squeezed the branch in his grip and swung down, and sometimes he fell and they would laugh at him. They would laugh, yes, but not now.
Because now he has the Precious and it is just him and the Precious and they are alone and they are happy in the underground. They are happy close together in these caves, and the shallow pools and rivers that wind and bend around and around throughout the mountain and they listen to the footsteps over them and around them and it is like music and sometimes he claps his bad bad hands together, and sometimes he squeezes them tightly around one another and sometimes he touches himself with them and that’s when he puts the Precious aside because it must just be him. But the Precious talks to him in voices he’s heard before, and it sounds like a voice he heard once, and he remembers that throat, remembers it beneath his hands when he squeezed them (bad) tighter and tighter and (bad) squeezed his hands around the voice until it stopped coming out until there was nothing left until it was him and the Precious, yes, they are alone now.
It’s just him and the Precious and the Precious and him and the Precious, the Precious, the Precious and there will never be another, there will never be anything else, there will never be a touch of hands other than his own across the smooth smooth surface of the Precious and it loves his bad hands, and he loves the Precious. They are together, and he doesn’t remember trees or sky or even that voice, that voice he crushed and squeezed (bad, bad BAD) until it went away and left them alone, locked together, always. Him, and the Precious, and nothing more and nothing less, yes, nothing less.