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It’s been hard since you left.

I squeeze my left fingers

With my right,


in my lap.

The left ones smoosh together like they’re being hugged.

Not in comfort.

A forced hug.

A grandma at Christmas hug.

A friend holding you back from a fight hug.

My left fingers turn white.

The blood flow stops.

I don’t notice.

I don’t notice either that my life took a hard left

when you left.

I won’t notice that for a while.

Other people notice.

But only people who have squeezed their own fingers know this.

I haven’t been here.

I don’t know this.

My left pointer nail digs into the side of my ring finger


The pinky has joined the hug.

I sit in my chair,

bent forward

leg shaking.

Blurred motion hovers to the left,

But there is no noise that I notice.

I don’t cry. I don’t move.

When I raise my eyes to the room

the noise floods in.

Others hug. Others cry.

I lower my head again.

I press my hands over my ears.

My fingers remain white.

I don’t notice.

Right now, it’s just a moment to pass.

Soon, the blood will rush in

to return my finger to pink.

Just a little longer.

Someone said this too shall -

It’s only later, way later - when I am the motion in the background, I am the hugging, I am the crying

and I see someone, sitting alone in a chair, bent forward, legs shaking, hands in lap,

strangling their left fingers hard with their right -

that I remember my own white fingers

all those years ago,

and realize the blood never did rush back in.

Only now do I notice white fingers across rooms

and watch those lives as they veer

hard and to the left.

Piper Bell


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