It’s true what she said, my wife, she said I have tiny hands. She tells me this while we are out to dinner for our anniversary. I pull my hand back from hers. We’d been holding hands across the table where the candle light turned everything to shadows. Except my hands. They glowed. I stick them under the table behind the long white cloth.
Not a real popular time to have tiny hands, I say.
No, no, she says. She didn’t mean anything bad by it. It was a light-hearted joke. And by the way, as far as she was concerned, that asshole doesn’t have the confidence to overcome his differences. You’re better than that, she says.
My own hands come to a point, paring down like a traffic cone. The boys on the basketball team used to joke how I couldn’t palm the ball.
But in bed, you know, I’m more than adequate, right, I ask my wife. She smiles from across the table. Oh my, of course you are sweetie, the best I’ve ever had, she says.
Then again, she is my wife, my for better or worse.
When I shake another man’s hand, I think firm but not aggressive. Let him know I’m worthy. So often I short the handshake and the larger hands swallow my small offering. I’ve lost right then. Oh, think of the disregard a man with tiny hands receives. They say, he’s not the one to deal with, he lacks the proper fortitude. Bigger is better, bigger is better, would you look at the size of his-
I have big feet, those I have, but nobody worries about feet. Feet have never made an impression. You don’t hold feet in the candlelight.
Are you okay, my wife asks. I think your hands are beautiful.
Right then, the waiter, a giant man-child with baseball mitts for hands, brings us steaming red lobsters. Would you like me to crack them for you, the man-child asks.
No, I yell. Do you think I can’t crack my own lobster?
He’s a little tired, my wife tells him. It’s fine, really, we’ll be fine, thank you, she says.
I pay the check and it’s everything I have to not stiff the man-child. I know his fortune is not his fault.
In the car I can tell my wife feels bad about her comment. She puts her hand on my thigh but I leave mine where they are. She has finally cut me open.
I swear it was a joke, sweetie. You have to know that, she says as we pull into our driveway.
The babysitter peaks out the window.
Can I make it up to you, my wife asks.
We pay the babysitter and go upstairs to make love. The entire time I am on my back, hands to the sides, watching a bottle of nail polish on top of her dresser. My wife’s eyes are closed until she finishes and then she opens them to look at me like it’s the first time she’s met me. I know there’s no way she’s thinking of me when she’s up there.
That-was-amazing, she says as she rolls over. No man in this world can do that, sweetie.
She leans over and kisses me on the cheek. Happy anniversary, she says.
Hey, I say to her.
After she has fallen to sleep I get out of bed and walk over to her dresser. Rose, extra glossy. That’s what the nail polish says. I pick it up.
Downstairs in the kitchen I paint my toenails under the light of the stove. I’ve watched my wife do it to our daughter enough times to know I should go easy with the application but I lay it on thick. Polish is running over the sides of my long toes.
After I finish, I go outside onto our back deck. The moon is full and everything is either blue or white, except my toes. They’re on fire, and because of it, I decide I’m going to wear only flip flops from now on. That way everyone can stop staring at my pointy, feathery, god forsaken hands and look down to where I am all man, thinking what they may of my rose colored, extra glossy nails.
Daniel W. Thompson’s work has appeared in publications like decomP, WhiskeyPaper, Wyvern Lit, Third Point Press and Cheap Pop. He works as a city planner and lives in downtown Richmond, VA, with his wife and children.