Perhaps the strangest, perhaps not. But it started with me staring at his hand for a second too long. My fingertips found the thin skin between his thumb and index and I ran the pad of my thumb over it. He hardly looked down. Until the edge of my nail found a spot. There, I dug it in. Imagine a normal 20-something couple sitting in a train by the window wordlessly looking outside, and my concentration on the crescent crater I created in his armour. The green sped by. The grey water and steel bridges rankled. His thoughts grew heavier – a shield he builds with every time my fingers deliberately brush against his skin, his scars, his forehead. He does not need this.
I needed to feel human, perhaps female, again. And I wanted to break that unspoken barrier we had built between us as children. I did not feel like a child anymore. Anything but. I felt like a woman. Sitting there, the sideways rattle of the train, rain outside, green in our skin and the poison of existence clouding my mind.
But I knew what I was doing, and so did he. It was a side berth. We could have sat opposite each other. He could have pushed me away as I sat with my head against his chest. I wanted to be wrapped. That moment I did. To not give to him anymore of me, but to greedily, ravenously take every ounce of strength in his mind and arms. He did not hold me how I wanted to be held. Perhaps if there were anybody else in his place I would have done the same and the imposter would have held me the way I wished to be held.
Instead he had only bent his knee against mine, so that mine doesn’t slip off the berth.
The scenaries changed. The winds changed. We were over a river. We thought of the same river, where a boat capsized and a half-English, half-Malayali girl drowned. My crescent was on his hand, and so were my fingers. I couldn’t take my eyes off the growing beauty of what was mine on his. My mark. My doing. My territory. My skin on his. The gentle bump has my breath in its fist. The fist where it was was loosely clenched.
Then the gentle breath. Fingers silently pushing my hair aside.
And the breath again. Some I felt as his stomach grew and shrank against my waist, some as it moved the hair tucked as an amateur would, behind my ear. We were still except for my finger on his hand, and his breath.
I felt guilty. This was not enthusiasm, it was consent. He should want this too; this was just an exasperated response to stimuli.
I retracted my finger.
His fingers put it back.
We stared out of the window again.