I'm looking for a short story collection that had a story about a teen girl that witnessed a craft crash on her family's farm and a strange mute boy with block hands is in it. The family takes him in and the story ends with them married and their son has his father's block hands. I read this in the 90s. It was told in first person from the girl's point of view. I believe it was in a sci fi short story collection.

  • 1
    What are "block hands"?
    – user14111
    May 28, 2022 at 6:41

1 Answer 1


If I interpret “block hands” as a variant of burned hands, this very nearly fits the short story “Troubling of the Water” (1966) by Zenna Henderson, which was republished in her short story collection The People Collection (1991).

Told from the perspective of a teen girl living on a family farm during a severe drought, she witnesses the crash of an alien craft and rescues the sole passenger, a boy who does not speak. He suffers terrible burns to his hands and face, which the family bandages, and they take him in during his recovery.

The girl and boy are not romantically involved, but the story does follow them well into the future.

"Strange hands" could also be a reference to the alien powers the boy possesses. He is able to move objects from a distance by manipulating patterns of sunlight or moonlight with his hands, among other things. These abilities are also passed down to his children.

After reviewing the collection, I think it’s very possible that the ending described here is actually remembered from the story which immediately follows, Return (1961) - they are very similar in tone, and in my copy, there is barely a page break between them. This story follows an adult woman grappling with the idea of raising her son in the aftermath of an accident (she and her husband were also in an alien craft which crashed) and spends some time contemplating his similarities to his father. The son does not, however, have burned hands.

  • Does their son have burned hands? Jun 20, 2022 at 22:45
  • They do not have a son together.
    – treeshaped
    Jun 20, 2022 at 23:30

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