gentle hands

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I’d wanted to ask her for months. We’d go to the beach, go to a show, walk around a park. Her hands were so close. So soft. I wanted to reach out and touch one. Wrap my warm fingers gently around it, firmly, carefully.

But I didn’t know. Would she be offended? Maybe she didn’t think about me like that. I mean, we only hung out every weekend for hours. We texted every day, extensively. We looked into each others’ eyes sometimes, her eyebrows arched just a little in a knowing glance, one I always broke by looking away. “But what if she doesn’t really like me?” I fretted.

“I could show you my judo moves,” I texted one night. “Throw you right out on the floor. Pin ya. Chokes. I’m getting kinda good!”

“Please only use gentle hands around me :)” she replied, the emoji a harbinger of playfulness.

“I promise. Only gentle hands.”

“What could you do with gentle hands?”

“I could…hold yours? gently”

“That would be nice :)”

Wait. She said…I can hold her hands? I can finally reach out and just grab them?

“Only gentle hands, then, when I see you. I’ll hold them gently :)”

She was gone that weekend, cities away. I was in turns elated and terrified of the prospect of seeing her again. Nervous, I parsed the brief conversation 9 ways to Sunday, scrambling to determine any hidden meaning, or to make sure that she really meant it.

On Monday afternoon she got back to the city. “Hey!”

“hey”

“what’s up?”

“just laundry. working. nothing big, haha”

“thought it might be fun to pop over for a few if you’re not busy”

“sure! I mean, if you don’t mind my laundry…”

“cool. I’ll come over later, then?”

“see ya then!”

Frantically, I cleaned my room and reread our text exchange. Was she coming over so I could hold her hand? How would I know what to do? Had she really meant that text? Lacking a bed frame, my mattress lay on the floor. I fussed around, tidying up my furniture less room into a sterile space of ambiguity. I fluffed the two pillows I owned and straightened the quit, a gift from my grandma.

Finally, she arrived. “Aquí,” my phone buzzed. I ran downstairs and opened the door. “Good to see you,” I smiled as I hugged her. A chase, discreet side hug–only one arm, though I angled my body toward hers. This, to me, signaled a “more than friends” hug.

Once ensconced on my bed, we pulled up Netflix. Ah, the ubiquitous Netflix and chill. Tucked next to each other on the narrow double bed mattress, we marathoned through “Master of None.” I tried to pay attention to the show–after all, I’d never seen it–but I kept getting distracted by trying to figure out how to make my move. How does one hold someone’s hand for the first time? Three episodes in, I was even more anxious than at first. I wanted to hold her hand, but I was too nervous to take it, even though it was less than an inch from mine. And if I didn’t figure out how to hold it soon, she was going to leave and the moment would be past. And did she even want me to hold her hand? I mean, that’s what I inferred from the texting convo, but does anyone really know?

Mustering all my courage, I slipped my hand over to hers. The back of our palms brushed against each other, settled. Seizing the slight moment of courage, I crossed my hand over hers and wrapped my bony fingers around her soft ones. Heart racing, I held my breath.

And then, she squeezed my hand and held it firmly, yet gently and carefully, just like I was holding hers.

Months of tension escaped my body. I was holding a girl’s hand. She was holding mine. And the universe was a better place.

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