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What the Hands Want

Patricia Q. Bidar

I had envisioned a beer and a shot for each cord of wood chopped and stacked. I’ve humped the loads into your parlor, prettily decorated for the holiday. Then I ascended your stairs to the bar where I now sit waiting. The stools are empty and the ceiling fan, still. The green sign outside blinks Cocktails. Off. On. Off. On. But your bar is empty of lemon lime slices, cocktail onions, and maraschino cherries. There are no bottles of fiery topaz and clear liquids to block my reflection in the gold-veined mirror, I am used to being alone and have no hope for bonhomie. The bar is chipped and smudged. Cool against my skin. I listen for your bootfall on the stairs. I like what I am. A handyman. It sounds jauntier than I feel. I am so tired. At home, my kitchen, like this bar, is clean and empty. I let my head drop onto my folded arms. Just for a minute or two, I tell myself. Then I jump, cursing. It’s a kitten, licking my hand. I’d envisioned the drink a reward on top of my pay. A ration of warmth against the frigid air outside. Everything I own is in a canvas bag at the foot of the stairs. I hope you aren’t rifling through my things. The thought immediately follows: I hope you are rifling. I encircle my arms around the round-eyed baby cat. While I will you to come upstairs with a drink you have prepared, I breathe the kitten’s scent. I carry it to the window. We regard the bright fingernail of a moon. Christmas. Piano notes drift to me from downstairs. Also, the scent of roast meat. Cinnamon and wine and spiced squash. The buttery, clove-y scent of a cake. The heavy front door opens and closes and opens and closes. Voices mingle and rise. I smooth my beard. Perhaps after the song, you will bring me my drink. Perhaps our fingers will touch. My lonesome hands buzz with the want of it. I wait.

Patricia Quintana Bidar is a third-generation Californian and working-class writer from the Port of Los Angeles area. Her work appears in Wigleaf, SmokeLong Quarterly, The Pinch, Monkeybicycle, and Atticus Review, among other places, including numerous anthologies. Patricia’s story, "Over There," appears in Flash Fiction America (WW Norton, 2023). She holds a Bachelor's degree in filmmaking and a Masters in English. Patricia lives in the

San Francisco Bay Area with her family and works as a professional writer for nonprofit organizations.

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