Could, Would, Will.
by Basingstoke. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
He's sitting on my bed. I could sit beside him. I could
put my arms around him.
I'm standing by the sink, turning a cup that's already been dried
over and over in the towel. Dief is beside me, looking up at me,
and I think he can tell I'm not myself tonight. He's sitting very
close to me.
Ray's ranting about our most recent case. He doesn't need me
to listen, he just needs me to be here so he's not talking to himself;
so I listen to his voice and not his words, and we're both something
"It just drives me up the wall, Fraser, we bust our butts on the street
trying to bring these guys down, and what do we get? Technicalities.
Semantics. A big fat *screw you* to the average cop. I dunno,
Fraser, is it any better in Canada?"
I blink and realize that the pause means he wishes me to answer.
"Well, Ray, my own experiences with my father's murder should tell you
that Canada is hardly a Mecca for police work."
"Yeah, I guess so."
The last time I saw my father alive was the Christmas before he died.
He brought caribou steaks that he had killed himself. When he left
he clasped my shoulder and shook my hand and smiled.
I'm trying to remember the last time someone touched me more than
casually, and I keep coming back to that Christmas, and my father's strong
hand on my arm. Before that, there was Victoria's slap across my
cheek moments before I handcuffed her.
I'm still standing at the sink looking at Ray. I could touch
him and he would touch me back. He would put his arms around me
if he knew I wanted him to, but we're four meters apart instead.
"I should head out," Ray says. "Dinner will be on the table
soon and Ma will get worried if I'm late. Hey, you want to come
eat with us?"
"Thank you, but I have work to do, so I must decline."
"Some other time then." He stands up and walks across my living
room. At the door, he pauses, and he turns toward me. "Hey
"Are you okay? You seem a little down."
If I could move my arms, I could hug him. I could touch him.
I only need to move my arms... but I don't move my arms. It's not
that I can't. I don't.
"I'm fine, Ray." I smile for him.
He's still standing there, one hand on the door and the other at his
side. His palm is turned toward me, his head tilting and his eyebrow
raising. His face is so expressive.
I could walk over. I could put my arms around him and he would
let me, without question. Or maybe with just a few questions.
But it would be fine. I can see myself doing it--just doing it--just
crossing my tidy kitchen to the best friend I've ever had and touching
him, and letting him touch me.
But the moment ends and I'm still standing at the sink and Ray is
standing at the door.
"I'll see you tomorrow, Benny."
"Tomorrow," I say.
He lifts his hand halfway, but drops it and opens the door.
And then he's gone.
"No, I couldn't," I tell him, my throat closing as I spoke.
"It wouldn't be appropriate."
He grumbles, calling me a liar.
"I know." I know. I could have touched him. I could
have let him touch me.
any and all feedback is welcome.
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