Author’s Note: This is a work of fiction. The only thing real about this story is the music.
“Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much / Which mannerly devotion shows in this / For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch / And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss”—William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
There are two versions of this story.
The first version of this story begins and ends in a diner. Two finished plates, two pairs of hands locked in a longing embrace. Al Green’s “For the Good Times” playing on the jukebox.
The first pair of hands is perfectly manicured. Her skin supple, her fingers slender and decorated with a solitary gold ring; a ring that she promptly removes and places on the table.
The second pair of hands is rugged. His palms are hardened by the labors of the day, the scars of his childhood displayed across his knuckles. He tries to get the manicured pair of hands to stay but it’s too late. Her almond-shaped nails never to be seen again.
The second version of this story starts in a car. The rugged pair of hands on the steering wheel of a 1972 Cadillac Coupe de Ville, the manicured pair of hands strumming her fingers to the tune of “Look What You Done for Me” on the dashboard.
The car stops at a nightclub. There, a multitude of hands can be seen. Some holding cigarettes, others itching for a different fix. All waiting in line for the main event.
The spotlight comes on and a singer appears on stage. His teeth causing several knees in the room to buckle with excitement. He counts down with his foot and the band starts to play. A sonic declaration of love and happiness.
Fists and feet shuffle simultaneously. The crowd enraptured by the electricity of the night. The singer crooning his way into the hearts of his audience.
The singer abruptly raises his left hand and motions for his band to stop. His pinky ring caught in the spotlight.
The band suddenly retreats to the shadows while the singer brings a stool and acoustic guitar on stage. He sits down and asks the audience if he can “do something a little different tonight.” Heads nod in response.
The singer fiddles with his guitar, getting reacquainted with its particular settings. He gently plucks it to the rhythm of “Simply Beautiful.”
Bodies get closer. The manicured hand interlocking her fingers with the rugged hand. Their feet moving in unison.
The rugged hand traces the gold ring on the manicured hand’s finger and communicates a vow unspoken but heard: “I love you, now and always.”