Good Narrative Principles

Holding Hands


I do this thing every week: I go hear (and see) my friend improvise on the piano for forty minutes or so. He’s pretty amazing and astonishing, playing on a Steinway with its original sound board. The kick of it is witnessing him leap from one style to the next as the spirit takes him. I always leave feeling blessed, lucky to have fallen into this weekly ritual.

Sometimes my husband comes with me, sometimes not. It all depends on whether or not he’s at home or at some far-flung place. My husband is what you’d call “an important man”. It’s lonely work for both of us.

The weekly musical event takes place in his living room where there’s a deep couch, the sort which is easy for a short-legged person like myself to slide ever so gradually to the floor. The couch is not my favorite spot to listen. But last week I arrived late, without my husband, and so, had to squeeze onto the couch between a friend and a stranger name “Jerry” who seemed pleasant enough.

As I slipped into the music, I absentmindedly extended my hand closer to Jerry seated to my right, I suppose to brace myself. Halfway through a tender melodic piece, Jerry cradled my hand in his. I didn’t move it away. I don’t know why. Maybe it was because his hand was warm, dry to the touch, a bit naked.

The memory of his touch lingered through the week, flavoring my nightly routine, when work and the press of the to do list wasn’t generating the necessary distraction. I wondered why Jerry held my hand. I wondered who he was. I could have asked my friends, the host of the weekly piano recital, but the thought of bringing it up made me blush. Even if I were to text my friend the question, shot him an email or call, I could well imagine the blush, creeping from my neck, coloring my face to a deep strawberry glaze. I suppose you’d think it was guilt expressing itself, the dead weight of conflicting emotions, though honestly, I don’t feel guilty.

I’m very conscious of what I’ll wear tonight. It’s Wednesday after all. Jerry isn’t a regular. There’s a good chance that he won’t be there. I tell myself this, that he probably won’t come, using the same line of logic as when I prep myself for life’s little disappointments, an example of which I can’t think of right now, though, as soon as I sign off, a list of disappointments will readily spring to mind.

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