Palmed Love

          A fissure threatened to halve us, a prosaic separation made up of dwindling passion and grating habits. We would forget the thin space where we used to intersect, where we would fold into each other as we watched movies on the couch. Where our skin would touch in unanticipated spots, causing a tremor of delight. Where our kisses felt like a necessity of life. So I did what anyone would do in a dire situation: I found your palm, searched the fragmented lines bisecting each other, and embedded myself into the crease of your heart line, the one that couldn’t foretell what we wouldn’t be to each other. I clutched onto its ridges and felt the unexpected tenderness of your touch, and I avoided the nagging ache that drove through my heart.

          I moved with you through your days, helping you open a door or lift a fork to your mouth or rub your arms when goosebumps made you shudder. I felt the stiff denim of your pants and the condensation from the glass cup filled with ice water, the velour of the couch, your viscid cum. Your smell—a combination of cedarwood and vetiver and a robust musk—swaddled me, and I felt like maybe this could be enough.

          You slept on your side, hand cupping your face, and I would climb out of the crease to give your cheek a thousand kisses before returning to my invisible position.

          Every once in a while, you would shake out your hand and I imagined that you knew I was there, tucked inside the crease waiting for something to change.

          And it did. But not like I thought it would.

          You meet her at the coffee shop, the one you go to when you want the fancy lavender latte and a stable wifi connection. She walks up to where you are seated and points to the electrical outlet obscured by the table leg. You take the pristine cord from her hand—its smooth malleability takes the shape of your heart line, threatening to suffocate my tiny existence—and maneuver it around the leg, slipping it into the outlet. You offer her a seat at your table.

          The seat becomes the couch becomes the bed becomes the imprint I left behind.

          Her sweater is as soft as your face right after you’ve shaved, and I can’t help but swell with happiness when I get to touch it. She smells of geraniums in bloom, and the redolence of coconut breezes through the air when her hair shifts. When she laughs, her voice lilts, part of her endearing charm. Her hand in yours radiates a honed static that shoots electricity across the crease where I exist, and I feel it surge through me, lighting up even my darkest parts.

          The initial excitement fades when a pulse from your palm trembles beneath me, pounding against the surface of your skin. Its impetus is unfamiliar, claiming random patterns of movement, and I become annoyed by the various interruptions. A thrum here and a thud-thrum there. It seems odd until I really pay attention to it: its consistent yammer when she’s in the same room as you, its quickening pace when we touch her body. But it’s more than just your reaction—it’s knowing your pulse beat differently for me.

          So I climb out of the crease while you’re sleeping next to her. I find her palm and search its lines. They are scattered and translucent; they shine a light on the hurt inside me. I see her heart line, how it takes a similar shape as yours. How it stretches towards yours like one synchronous swish. I can’t even get in the way—it moves over me. Because just like you, she was never searching for me. I want to hate her, you, for it, but the feeling dissipates before it can fully form.

          I am between two bodies, the loneliest I’ll ever be. I slide to the edge of the bed and slip through the cracked door. I slip into the shadows of the night, away from the space where we used to intersect. I lift my palm and feel for the line that will lead me toward my destiny.

Shelby Newsome

Shelby Newsome is a writer and bookseller living in Maryland. Her flash fiction has appeared in Rejection Letters and Tart magazine’s newsletter. She writes The Kernel with her friends, a weekly newsletter by writers for writers. Follow her on Instagram at @shelby_newsome or check out her website for more information.