We sit next to one another, side by side on a bench. Leaning against one another, shoulders and arms pressed together, thighs touching. Half turning our heads to face one another, we smile, and I, forever awkward, drop my gaze to where your right hand rests on your knee, clenched into a tight fist.
I take your hand in mine. My short stubby fingers, the skin brown and calloused, hold the pale smooth fist, and I insinuate my right forefinger into where the tension is tightest, pushing outwards, forcing your fingers to uncurl, until your palm is exposed, fingers splayed outwards, facing upwards.
Lightly, delicately, I trace around the lines, tickling slightly, the smoothness of your skin. I feel, rather than see, you smile and I smile too. I look like I’m focussing intently on your hand, as though I’m not aware of anything else. Untrue.
I am aware of my heart pounding, my shallow breathing, my blood racing through my veins. I am aware that I quiver in your presence, still.