Monday 21 August 2023

His Hand by Hannah Retallick, rose cordial

You ask for his hand. Either one, it doesn’t matter. He offers the left, which had been tucked into his dark jean pocket. You hesitate and say, May I? like it might mean something different this time. He pulls up the sleeve of his hoody and presents his hand at the correct angle for stamping. Thank you, you whisper. You don’t say that to anyone else; your burning cheeks can feel the difference.

He’s taller than you, a year or two older, his hand is smooth, almost hairless, a warm caramel shade. Now you’ve held it too long. Stamp! You’ve defaced it with, Anglesey Agricultural Show.

Off he goes to watch the jumping horses and parading sheep. Perhaps he’s eating candy floss, tearing it with long pianist fingers and placing it into his mouth, crystals resting on his lips like the sugared rim of a cocktail. Perhaps he’s thinking about the straggly girl at the gate who marked him with approval. Perhaps he can still feel her thumb pressing into his wrist.

Your dream evaporates. Oblivious showgoers trudge through like the cattle they’re here to see. You twist their hands to the right angle, too impatient to wait, and stamp them carelessly; each person wears an unreadable print over their vein ridges. They enter the grounds and inhale cow pats, straw, and greasy burgers from dirty vans.

The boy with the beautiful hands will go home tonight, place his shoes in the hallway, and enter the bathroom. He will look into the mirror absentmindedly as he lathers his mother’s rosy soap, smooths it over his palms, massages between his fingers; then the backs of his hands, focusing on the left and scrubbing it red. Soon no trace of ink will remain. And just like that, you are erased.

About the auhtor 

Hannah Retallick is from Anglesey, North Wales. She was home educated and then studied with the Open University, graduating with a first-class BA (Honours) Arts and Humanities (Creative Writing and Music) degree, before passing her creative writing MA with distinction. Her work has been placed and shortlisted in several international competitions. 

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