It’s in his laugh.
It’s in the quiet way that he chuckles that begs me not to ask. Ironically, he feels that doing so draws less attention to himself. I don’t want to burden you, he’s said. Despite my explanations that doing so only burdens me more, he only gives a wry smile, and chuckles.
It was never about me. I apologize: he shakes his head. It’s alright. I understand.
I stay by his side, and I sit. He says nothing, and the air is silent between us. I know better than to leave him now, and though my mouth is dry, unsure of what to say to help, I stay. Just as I try to think of what it is he needed to hear, he takes my hand.
It’s surprising: he’s never liked anyone to touch him. I don’t want anyone to feel the ridges on my palms. I don’t want people to feel my scars. My cuts. My fingers. Me.
His fingers are shaking in my hand, and I give his hand a short, tight squeeze. I take his silent thank you as it comes, and he relaxes. He doesn’t cry, but his grip tightens in mine, and I keep my face straight through the pain. He needed me now, and so I say nothing. When my fingers draw patterns along his palm, he freezes. They run themselves over his palm. His scars. His cuts. His fingers. Him.
And then, I hear it.
He chuckles. I smile, and take him in hand. He gives my hand a short squeeze.
He’ll be alright. We’ll be alright.