Her hands are soft.
He knows his aren't. His are callused and wrinkled, old like the rest of him, old like he feels every morning. His shake in the cold, shake in the wet, shake at a mention of home. His hands hold things tight, his hands fix things, his hands paint the nails of unruly time ladies. (apparently)
Her hands are soft. They're bony, like the rest of her, fragile thing that she is (and isn't, and was, and wasn't). They're small, and steady, and pretty. (hands shouldn't be pretty, he thinks, but what does he know). They have shiny nail polish on the nails. (he's only missed once or twice).
The evening is calm, and for once she might be too. Neither of them have said anything since she picked the colour. That could be why the evening is so calm, but he likes to hope. Maybe, his hopes whisper, maybe this is the start. Maybe now is the turning point. Maybe now they're friends.
They are sort of holding hands. Friends do that, don't they, hold hands? They did back then, back on - his hands shake. He mutters under his breath, apologises, but he didn't smudge any. Small mercies. He begins again.
Friends hold hands. They're sort of holding hands now. She's got her left one held out, prim and a smidge pretentious, and he's cupping it with his left hand like it's primordial soup. Not holding, not in the traditional sense, but touching, and cradling, and treasuring. That's the point of the holding, in the end. It counts.
The evening is still calm. The light filtering through the windows is the light of golden hour, and of shepherd's warnings, and of springtime sunsets.
(He won't admit it could be an autumn sunset too. They're ever so similar, but renewal follows one and dark follows the other. He's had enough of the dark, and the evening is so calm.)
She shifts slightly, tilts her head to bask in the sunbeams. He's glad he thought to put a window in. She's far too pale, and it shows especially hard in this light. He should take her on a trip, give her all the lights of the universe. She needn't be this pale, and light's always suited her more than the dark.
Except on her nails, of course. She picked black this time, and last time, and the time before that. There hadn't been a time before that, because they'd fought hard, on that dreadful Sunday. He wouldn't touch her and she wouldn't let him. Her nails were bare for a week.
That was then, though, and this is now. Now he's nearly done. The black she picked, 'like my soul, doctor, what do you think?’ has flecks of silver in. It doesn't show on the brush, only on her. He's only noticed now because the sunset's rays are finally hitting them. He won't see it as a metaphor.
(except he will, because his hands are old and so is he. The metaphor is that Missy still sees the stars, and the metaphor is that Missy really does want to change, and the metaphor gives him hope)
She notices that he's finished, and sighs. He takes it as a warning to stop gazing at her hand. She holds it up to more of the light.
"What do you think?" he whispers, because he won't break the calm.
"Very nice. You missed less than last time," she responds quietly, and he hopes it's because she doesn't want to break the calm.
"I'm learning." he whisper-grins, and goes to stand up. She catches his hand. He pauses.
"You are," she says, and she's whispering this time. "When will you let me paint yours?"
He freezes then, because the metaphor is kind of flying out from under his feet and yet rising him higher than the sun. He freezes then, because she initiated contact. He freezes then, because his big secret about their nail painting sessions is that it's how he takes care of her, and if she wants to paint his...
"They don't need painted" he croaks, but sits further in the chair. She begins to stroke his palm.
"But your poor hands, they're so rough," she says. He smiles, because:
Her hands are soft.