He’s been staring at me a while now, looking me up and down and taking in my varnished wood and the silvery grey metal of my handle. He’s short – his top is barely halfway up my body – and everything about him is smaller than the one on the other side of me, who when bent still towers over him.
I’ve seen the small one before, but not like this. The one on the other side of me has touched him, caressed him, ruffled his hair and muttered ‘son’, whatever that means, but always left him behind. He turns my handle till I click then swings me one way then back, a shush sounding around me, until he turns my handle again and I click and rest. Then, the small one looks longingly at me like I’m a barrier, the gap between us an empty space where he thinks, he hopes the other one should be.
Only now is it different.
The big one’s hand is usually warm but the small one’s is boiling, almost wet. He steps forward deliberately silently, touches my handle then pulls away and looks back at me as if I’m forbidden or covered in some kind of disease, though it’s my body rather than my handle that’ll eventually catch something.
He glances to the right then left as if he’s making sure there are no witnesses – I see him, the windows see him, the carpet sees him, we all know and feel him – then lifts his hand, balls it up, moves it towards me then stops.
He wants to touch me, but doesn’t want to. Unlike me, he doesn’t know what’s happening on the other side of me and doesn’t know if he wants to or not. It could be terrible.
His hand hovers and wavers with thought then drops. He steps back then forward and places his hand, now flat, against me then leans into me pressing his ear to my wood. I feel his pulse, his heartbeat, his warmth, but I give him nothing back.
The one on the other side stands, quietly walks over to me and makes me click, a deeper, louder, firmer click.
I’m not moving, and the small one will remain outside. At least for now.
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