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In the Loop

Look at this Portrait of Ginevra de' Benci by Leonardo da Vinci. See the right side of
this painting? There you will see Da Vincis fingers and hands making their mark. Do you see
it?
I could. There was suddenly beauty in this sorrow-faced woman as Da Vincis fingers
touched mine. The soft touch he gave filled me with awe as I could see the humanity in a genius
as I understood the ladys pain. Just through a dab of paint without a brush. Looking at my
fingers with new respect, I dipped them in paint and splattered it onto my page in the
kindergarten class art room. There was no sudden genius, but there was something so special and
unique in the fact that I had created art, despite my lack of skill. And all because my fingerprints
were different from anyone elses in the world.
Sure, fingerprints are different. But that doesnt make you different.
They say that there is no one like you. That you are unique. But when I look around, I see
so many similarities just at my high school. Straight blond hair. Hazel eyes. Small feet. Surely
there is no difference. Were all trying to fit in. Even at my elementary school there was a girl
named Lindsey who everyone mixed up with me because we both looked similar. To this day, I
still get called Lindsey, but I dont let it get to me. I have at least one difference: My fingerprints.
My fear of not being who I am is real, although unfounded. Without proof, I could very
well be mistaken for someone else, someone who looked exactly like me. But as with the two
different brothers Will and William West who were mistaken for the same person, we would be
two different people. I remember the first time I looked at my fingers and saw the individual
ridges.
Theyre so tiny! I had exclaimed to my sister. I thought skin sheds.

It does.
Then why doesnt it change my prints? I wondered, truly curious. A discussion at
school had brought up fingerprints, and the teacher had claimed no one had the exact same as
anyone elses. But my first grade mind could not comprehend it.
I dont know, Bethany. Ask Mom.
Thus I learned that I was special. That I was the only one in the loop. Third grade brought
my first crush and heartbreak. Brandon would never leave me, but I let it pass, remembering that
life would leave without me if I let it. So fourth and fifth grade passed without a glance. I no
longer had fear of changing my identity, although everyone else seemed to have trouble with it. I
was in the loop.
Sixth grade was another story. There were all sorts of cliques and if you didnt get into
the right one, your life was messed up forever. You couldnt touch anybody for fear of leaving
your mark on the group where you didnt belong.
Mom, nobody likes me! I hate school! Can you please homeschool me? I sobbed into
my hands, the tears trickling down the canals of my fingerprints, absorbing into my skin. How
could anyone like me?
My mother silently lifted my chin with her fingertips. You are exactly who youre
supposed to be, honey. Dont ever forget that you are special. The words werent comforting, as
Id heard them about one thousand times.
The only thing special about me are these. I replied through tears and pointed at my
fingers. All these little lines are special. But Im not.
Youre at the delta right now, honey. That place where you choose to go one way or
another. Give me one of your fingers. One of these fingers could tell your story, honey. She

pointed at the finger in her hand. You could be facing a decision that dictates whether you will
be facing a loop or a whorl. Youve got one whorl and nine loops, honey. Youre the only one in
the whorl.
My insecure braces had shown through as I studied my whorl and nine loops. Maybe I
was the only one in the world.
Seventh grade was another delta. This time, though, I was ready. I was either going to
face a crossover or a bifurcation. Hah. Thats what I thought; I thought I was in the loop.
Hannah, I made such an idiot of myself today! I actually talked to my crush and he gave
me such a weird look! I know he hates me. After passing out on the bed, Hannah gave me a
look.
Really? Youre so dramatic. You just talked, right? So try it again. Rolling her eyes, her
mouth irked into a smile.
She didnt understand: he had given me a look! As had become a habit, I looked at my
fingers. There it was. The lovely, terrifying, annoying thing I had been avoiding my entire life: a
ridge ending. Im ashamed to admit that I didnt realize Id been facing one until several years
later. But of course, the damage was done and I had to live with the problems.
My sister Hannah has a wall where she posts uplifting quotes and lyrics and Bible verses.
One day I looked and saw a song titled Fingerprints of God by Steven Curtis Chapman. I
touched it to be sure it was real. Surely it was fake, because God didnt leave evidence, he never
did. My fingers left evidence of anything I had touched: my books, my papers, my walls, my life.
God isnt tangible, so he cant touch my stuff or my life. Surely I was facing an island, just like
my fingerprints said. Fingers are useful for touching and feeling, but not much else. Theyre
nearly invisible, after all.

Ninth grade brought plenty of facts and heartbreaking humiliation as I tried to discover
who I really was. The awe of finger painting was long gone, but I still yearned to be something,
someone. My identity was founded on the basis of being smart and quiet in the classroom, but
that wasnt who my fingers said I was. They said I was someone who didnt ever know what to
do and was constantly trying to find out what my core was. It turned out to be my faith, giving
me a goal to keep trying to reach throughout my messy life in my maze of ridges.
One curious day I wondered that if there were so many parallel elements to my life and
my fingerprints, then I should know what they mean to others. An online Medical Dictionary
called Merriam-Webster said:
Analytical evidence (as a spectrogram) that characterizes an object or substance;
especially : the chromatogram or electropherogram obtained by cleaving a protein by
enzymatic action and subjecting the resulting collection of peptides to two-dimensional
chromatography or electrophoresis; the impression of a fingertip on any surface;
especially : an ink impression of the lines on the fingertip taken for purpose of
identification .
I couldnt help but feel that there was so much more to a fingerprint than analytical
evidence or simply for the purposes of identification. It wasnt just identification; it was me. It
made me the only one in the world, even dating back to 200 BC China when they first used
fingerprinting, there is no one who is like me. Im my own person.
I still dont understand how Im able to keep going despite my problems finding who I
am. But my fingerprints tell me that there are no others who are like me, even if appearances say
differently. Im the only one in the loop. Iris Scotts finger paintings are incredible, and together
the paintings show all the aspects of life: The pain and choices. The joy and exclamations. The

unnecessary giving and taking of life. Just like my fingers tell me. My life is wrapped around my
fingers, and with nine loops and one whorl, Im the only me in the whorl.