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everything; something; nothing

My father tried to teach me how to read people. If they twist your hand to the left, he said, that means they think they’re superior. No one ever twisted my hand, so I never got to use that knowledge.

I saw the boy with the quiet lips and long fingers, and I asked him how many years he had played the piano for. He told me he’d been playing for seven years now. I didn’t talk to him again, but I had this urge to run up to him and shake his hand, just to see what he thought. I imagined him home alone, dancing with an imaginary guitar. He didn’t play guitar though, of course, not by the looks of his eyes. I didn’t have to ask him— I knew. I was sure. 

I did this with so many people that I began to read gestures like words. They weren’t open books, because open books allow only two pages to be perused at once. They were scrolls— easy, all there. 

I learned that sad girls often managed to conceal it by wearing lipstick and false swan-like postures. I learned that the best way to know whether a girl is truly sad is by making her read out loud. That’s when the splinters surface. 

And then, I got to myself. I watched my own reflection in the mirror and noticed that the way my forehead crinkled when I smiled was giving too much away about what was in my mind. I could tell that I didn’t blink enough to be considered happy. I cherry-picked at all these little things until there were fences around every aspect of my being, and walls around those fences, and moats around those walls.

If you get close enough to touch my hand, I will not pull away. I will not twist it to the left. I will hold it, gently, as if I’m fragile and beautiful. 

(Because I am.)

(I talk in parentheses when I have something to say but I don’t want to be heard. Sometimes, these parentheses come in the form of lips. Sometimes, they are just more words.)

(Don’t make me read out loud. I am carved firewood. I am gift-wrapped trash. I am an ornament on a burnt tree. That’s when the splinters surface. And they sink skin-deep.)

Posted 1 year ago with 171 notes
Tags: prose  fiction  
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