Hand Holding

“Take my hand,” I said, louder than I thought I had, until I saw all the people looking. I reached up for her hand, “Hold my hand, please.” I kept my tone in check, maybe.

She looked down at me, smiling, bright blue eyes and blond hair all glistening in the thousands of snowflake crystals, all of them reflecting the street lamp light. She wore a cute knit cap, which hung limp towards the back. It was pink. And a thick coat. She patted my head. “You’re adorable.” It was a thick mitten. It’s why she couldn’t hold my hand. It had nothing to do with him.

I reached up and touched her hand, but she shook her head, smile never wavering, “I don’t hold hands, Billy. Not even Thomas’s.”

I pouted. What else could a scorned seven year old do? Then I beamed with an idea, “I’ll wash it. Right in front of you. I promise.” Shelly was my babysitter, eighteen years old. “Please. It doesn’t mean anything.”

She laughed, then knelt down. She always knelt down when she had something very important to say, or she felt I had something very important to say. “If it doesn’t mean anything, then you wouldn’t mind not holding my hand.” She kissed my cheek. I cried when mom bathed me that night, washing away her touch. I could feel it the entire night up until then. “I’m too old for you, Billy. But some day you will find a woman, not your babysitter, and you will hold her hand.”

“Promise?” I sulked, looking at her feet. She did what she always did. With her mitt, she touched my chin and lifted so we looked into each other’s eyes. I melted inside.

“I promise. There’s a plan for you, Billy, and you will find a girl your age, and she will appreciate your passion.” She stood up and extended her hand. I took it. “Just tonight. Want to get some pie?” I nodded eagerly and we walked through the snow filled streets.

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