what’s possible [revised]

She wanted to be touched, but people were afraid. She was not outwardly inviting. He knew better, or maybe he didn’t think about it at all. He reached out and put a warm hand on her shoulder and she leaned into it, and the edges beneath his palm didn’t bother him; he knew that he had edges, too.

He pulled her closer and they felt each other’s hard angles but he didn’t let her go and she let herself lean in. She let herself be embraced.

People passed by and saw them and they admired the two holding each other and then suddenly felt awkward for watching and thought they should find someone to embrace too, but they just kept looking on, thinking about that.

And the two kept holding onto each other and the hard and soft parts of them started to meld into each other and they started to think that yes, this is how things should be. We are moldable people and with the right sort of pressure at the right moment in the right place we can fit and maybe love is not just about being nice to each other or wanting to have sex with each other but about holding each other even when it is hard and it hurts and we are tempted to run away but we don’t.

Eventually, they let go and let the crowd separate them, but they carried with them the memory of what the warmth was like, the memory of what’s possible.

(Earlier draft here.)


  1. i liked this story the first time i read it, and i like your revisions.

    i’m glad you left in the part about moldable people. it’s such beautiful imagery you’ve set up. describing this single moment in such great detail that i’m right there with them, or i want to be them. and then the ending is like a big stab in my heart.

    good job.

  2. 2nd to last paragraph: perfect flow and tone mirroring how we feel when we’re in another’s arms and the world rushes by. End it at that! :o) Merrrrrry Christmas

  3. I’m so glad you’ve returned to this piece! My favorite image in all your writing!

    This time around the crowd stuck out to me. Basically a crowd forms because they are surprised by two people touching and embracing and then the two separate because they are aware of the crowd right? Because this second time around I read/misread that the crowd pulled them apart and that’s why they were separated. Not sure if you need to clarify this but thought I’d mention it.

    Wonderful as usual!

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