* * *
You hold your clenched fist out to me, palm up, fingers wrapped around an unseen object. I hold your gaze as I unwrap them, one by one. They yield easily, and I run the end of my thumb along the rough skin on the inside of your knuckles. Faithful, hardworking hands, you’re proud of the callouses.
There, you say when I am done. I look down to discover a small, smooth black stone. You turn my palm over and decant the piece into the center of it. Warm from being held by you, the warmth seeps outwards across my skin. I measure its weightlessness and stare at it as you reach your hand over mine once more. Tenderly wrap your thumb and forefinger in an infinite loop around my wrist.
From the beach, you say, a bird heart for forgiveness.
You tug and draw me closer to you. Lean into my ear and whisper, we’re of the same flock you and I, before planting a kiss, feather-light, on the bruise blossoming across my cheek.
* * *
Elaine Mead is an educator and writer, currently based in Hobart, Tasmania. Her fiction and creative nonfiction have been published internationally in both print and digital publications. You can find her online at wordswithelaine.com