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Hand to Hold

Give me your hand. Let’s get out of here. Because I know you waited awhile for this table, which folds up into the wall and plops down when you need it. This bookstore is made up of collapsable things that have nothing to do with books. But this is not why you feel so awkward. I read in your online profile that you are finally, fully divorced.    
        But then nothing changed.
        Not yet. Not quite.
        Outside, all these neat young women in stripes, both horizontal and vertical, plopped down on their bikes. The buildings have released their workers and they have spread out over the city, and you texted that that really messed you up.
        But you got here.    
        And we are now in that one hour of the week that feels like a tiny extinct animal that the zookeeper drops into your hand to hold: “Ten seconds,” the zookeeper says. “Nine, eight.”
        And then you will have to release it. Like every other kind of time.    
        But right now. Shhhhhhhh.
        What am I doing with you anyway?
        Why aren’t I with all the best people? Like those girls, who have already biked off the island. Not like our kind of people, who type into their profiles—both thumbs going—that they attend the gym religiously and then text proof from the gym, like I will never believe them otherwise.    
        Like when I used to take selfies from the pews of my church and send them to...?
        Those checkboxes. Do you notice them? Atheist? Agnostic?
        And now that you’ve typed that you have a passport in hand, did you go anywhere?
        I would say this meetup was successful. Thank you for taking a chance. I am more giving than I seem. But this is my time right now and it moves slowly. Can you feel it with me? Think of it as my gift—the one thing I should have typed about myself.
        In fact, I’ll do it right now. I am feeling so Friday night! Look at me, my phone in my hand! This app!—how the edge of my thumb makes it bloom.

Triin Paja


Julie Turley is a NYC-based fiction writer and librarian, whose work has appeared in North American Review, Western Humanities Review, Citron Review, and others. She is currently working on a book-length oral history of the Salt Lake City punk scene.