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She said, “My hands are so cold.”
Why are your hands cold?” I asked her, smiling – playful.
She made an adorable pouty face and shrugged her shoulders. “I dunno,” she said.
Then she held her hands out, palms up, offering them to me. I hesitated for only a second; I knew the next step in the dance and so did she – that's why she held her hands out.
I took her hands in mine. My heart started pounding immediately. A crisscross of thoughts exploded but the only one I was able to catch, for a fraction of a second, was my God her hands are so soft, her skin feels amazing.
Her hands were cold, really cold. The coolness felt nice, it mingled with the warmth from my own hands. My warmth, her coolness; I imagined – I hoped – it felt as good to her as it did to me. I thought she was smiling, I hoped she was.
“Oh wow,” I turned up the surprise a couple of notches, trying to remain casual. “Your hands are cold, damn.”
She laughed a bit. Of course, I was smitten. Of course, she had an adorable laugh. Of course.
I let go of her hands. I tried to continue on casually. Some part of me, some wretched, stupid, miserable part of me was still more afraid of what might happen if I kept holding the girl's hands instead of letting go. No matter how much I hated the safety of not trying, somehow the fear of rejection would always win out. I might have even been afraid of what would happen if I succeeded.
I couldn't tell whether she was disappointed that I let go, I thought – I imagined – she was. She knew the steps in the dance and so did I, but that's not what it looked like. Either it looked like I didn't know what I was doing or I was too chicken shit to try, either way I had imagined she was disappointed. She took a risk, too. She held her hands out; I let go too early.
It was a subtle rejection, bred by my own insecurities and she didn't deserve it. What she said after that didn't really matter, another casual comment about how cold it was. What else could she – could we – do? I let go too early.
I was surprised, really, how much I liked her. I hadn't faced it until that moment. After I let go I realized I had a mild boner. Shit dude, take it easy man. Pull it together, I told myself, half embarrassed, half angry. We both carried on, trying to act like nothing happened.
I texted her that night; she didn't text back. I could only imagine what would have happened, if I had held on.--- Lyle Rosdahl, a writer living in San Antonio, edits the flash fiction blog & best of in print for the Current. He created, facilitates and participates in Postcard Fiction Collaborative, a monthly flash fiction response to a photo. You can see more of his work, including photos, paintings and writing, at lylerosdahl.com. Send your flash to firstname.lastname@example.org.