I am slumped on a hard chair in the back of the classroom, my eyes fluttering in and out of focus. The staff meeting drones on, something about budget cuts and earthquake drills. I barely slept last night, jolted awake in the wee hours by my daughter's emotional phone calls to her friend. She is leaving in two days. Tension has set in at the base of my neck, a stiff, locking feeling that prevents me from looking up or sideways without wincing.

I draw circles on my papers, shaping them into waving lines, trying to lasso and restrain that looseness that has gotten a hold of my insides, a vague sensation of walking on cotton, of not being connected to the ground. I have felt this way at airports, in those floating moments between friends waving goodbye and the craft opening for boarding, moments of utter loneliness where connections are tenuous and major moves are possible, moments holding actions to be negated or forgotten later as not having existed.

Two rows up ahead, a colleague raises his hand. He is third in line to ask a question. He keeps his hand up, index pointed; the other fingers curling back loosely towards his palm. He has wide, long fingers that flatten at the knuckle and end in a half circle, smooth as a baby's cheek. His hand looks patient, comfortable, poised to move when his turn comes, half closed over the round shape of empty space, holding something secure that cannot be seen.

I strain under the feeling of that hand, wanting to detach it from the rest of the body it belongs to and place it on my lap. There I could run my fingers between his, feeling the soft inside of the palm and the skin where fingers touch; I would curl his hand up into a fist and gently open it up, one finger at a time with a kiss on the tip. I would hold his hand up to my face; his fingers would travel around to the back of my neck and I would cry, slow warm tears that I have to slump lower to hide while the meeting goes on about budget cuts and earthquake drills.


words: Suzanne Aubin, Canada
photo: Inge Flessa-Glauner, Germany (touch-the-blue)

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