(小)

a short story

They approached her apprehensively, handling her fingers like a newborn fledgling. Her hands felt agreeable to their touch. It was the first time they held each other like this. They had worried for a while about the compatibility. No, not the personality one. That was a given. How could anyone bother being around someone whose presence did not provoke a sense of joy? Well, Xiao had thought that people have been married for less. Financial stability and alimony was incentive enough for some. The existence of prenups were indicative of that. Hell, the couples they grew up around seemed empty of romance. Perhaps that was why they had craved for it so desperately. The movie-kind of love, with an official soundtrack and montages, with grand gestures and a perpetual honeymoon period. I could do it, they thought.

No, the compatibility they were worried about had been the hand-holding kind. Whether her height and arm-length could comfortably fit theirs, rather than have someone’s elbows sag or cramp up due to physical dimensions. If they could easily saunter about the wet damp streets on a moonlit evening for hours, still clasping.

It had only been the first week since they had finally acknowledged their mutual attraction to each other. While it had appeared for her very recently, it had always been on their mind. There was an inkling of the idea when they had first seen her.

It had come with the thought: “I want to know what cereal you eat in the morning.” That was always how they knew when someone would become special to them.

Xiao had always thought of the idea of “friend-zones”- they imagined it was the best place to be! Doesn’t the purest of love surpass that of romantic approval? They would often hear male friends complain of this wretched area- their efforts to befriend a lady thwarted by their inevitable lack of interest in being “more than friends’. They would scold them, saying how communication isn’t so difficult. It is not impossible to convey a message, especially to someone you’re supposed to care about. If the whole objective was to doink, why couldn’t they just go on Tinder? Of course not! I want my sex to have feelings, they would claim. But what is making love without actual love? Who in the right mind would want to kiss someone who did not want to kiss them back? It seemed to simple. Love confessions were never easy, and depending on the delivery, could be seen as rather creepy…but at least it makes things honest. And honesty was important for any dynamic.

Rejection was recurrent in their life, but never once had it affected the way they felt for their beloveds. Great crushes usually turned into life-long friendships, sprinkled with inspiration inducing moments, enough to make even the most obvious and painful truths bearable. They just wanted whatever love they could find to be meaningful.

Wasn’t it already?

They strolled around the park for the first time as a couple- she was shy for having dated someone like them for the first time. What kind of person that was, they would never exactly find out, but they didn’t dare question it. All that matter was that they were there, for the time being, keeping each other warm.

There was nothing better than this, they had thought. A superior definition of togetherness. The knowledge of a prolonged and passionate companionship, whose participants would decide what to eat for dinner, brush teeth, go to bed, and wake up from dreams, still facing each other. Xiao had never understood why the ultimate achievement was “sex”. Why that was what a “home run” meant. They had tried it and then proceeded to avoid it. It was just an anxiety inducing mess.

It was such a suggestive word. An activity that society and advertisements had focused so much attention on. They knew it meant “seven” in Swedish, and that it was necessary for procreation. That it was what their parents were doing that one late night when they were 7 years old and couldn’t sleep. It was the topic of their fellow peers at school whenever anyone did anything remotely raunchy, despite everyone’s prepubescent awkwardness. It was a badge of honour, you know. Bumping uglies. They would wonder what their new lover’s opinion would be. They were slightly afraid. Would they leave me for another, more willing partner? Did they, themselves. crave it as much as everyone else seemed to?

Only time would tell. But for now, they would enjoy the company of their dear one. The smoothness of their fingertips. Their hands felt as if they were about to develop frostbite, but it was worth it, getting to know the texture of her palms.

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