This little piece was born out of a prompt from the Qamina Writing Workshop.

The prompt requires you to write a story that ends with the following sentence:

But you are free to do it and I am free to let you. Because look, look. Look where your hands are. Now.

I found the task challenging and fun. Check out my piece below:

It isn’t that I hate being touched…I just…I just don’t see why you can’t keep your hands, your fingers to yourself. They would still fulfill the purpose for which they were made – they would feed you, clothe you, give you harvest. It feels too much like an intrusion, when you press your warm, clammy (and there is something about warm and clammy that feels like the crawling of slugs) palms on my hand, or even worse on my arms, on my face.

Why can’t we just say hello, nod at one another, offer a smile, show some teeth, and be satisfied?

When I voice these words aloud, you scramble for justifications. A back story is formulated. There must have been a father, uncle, cousin, who pressed their hand over my mouth, lifted my skirt; invaded.

The kinds of stories that have you leaning forwards and then leaning back.

But would you believe, that I am still my own?

You think me an anomaly, not knowing that it is you that has been conditioned. You who cannot feel comforted, unless there is an arm around your shoulder, a subtle squeeze, a hug – chest to chest. You who does not feel loved unless a kiss is placed upon your lips.

This room is cold, colder than outside where the sun still stands boldly. Why do we invite winter in? The AC is at its lowest. So I suppose this is how you like it when you come here. Though I would have thought heat would be more conducive to the circumstances.

But I am the anomaly. I must have it all upside down.

You let the curtains loose, to give the illusion of darkness.  But yes, it is better now. Much better now. Cold and dark, like a grave.

I can bear it. This is how love is shown.

You come to me. You, whose hands have traced countless breasts, whose fingers have slipped into wombs, bodily fluids rushing forth, baptizing you. You want to use those same hands to embrace me. Use lips that have kissed – not foreheads, not cheeks or lips – to kiss me.

But you are free to do it and I am free to let you. Because look, look. Look where your hands are. Now.


*The ending line was taken from Jazz by Toni Morrison.

About the author

Oyinkan Braithwaite

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June 2019
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