The Hand

A hand came to rest upon my shoulder. A gesture of light intention. Whenever you have a second, I would like a word, it suggested. A mildly affectionate gesture, perhaps, but nothing more. As I was currently in the midst of a discussion of particular interest, I chose to accept its invitation to temporarily ignore it, and carried on with my sentence. My proposition soon incited a debate which saw me hold a specific point with passion. The woman next to me was annoyingly talented in the art of manipulating opinions through the use of irony and ridicule. As she interrupted me to do just so, I felt the hand trying to seize my attention, its grip intensifying upon my shoulder. However much guilt I felt at ignoring its request once again, I could simply not let an empty twist on words win public approval. So I interjected, reinstating what the debate was really about. Should you ask me now what subjects were being so fervently disputed, I would probably not recall. Maybe only feelings were being discussed through many empty words. A certain propensity towards excitedness that had evolved through the sparring of wits and the old customs of rivalry.

To my great discontent, she had found a flaw in my defence and it was, as she was making a mocking case out of it, that the hand came painfully to my attention once more. How little had I noticed its grip which had slowly intensified into a strong, painful even, demand for attention, until, with a start, I felt a nail dig into my skin. I winced. Who could this be that was so relentless and rude? I reached back, and although I found nothing but air to push away, I was somehow satisfied by the gesture and resolved to carry on with the debate. I defended whatever the point I was desperate to make with vehemence. Nonetheless, it seemed to me the debate was already being lost. That is to say, I was losing the debate. I am not usually one for competition, nor am I really the kind of person to get engaged in such a blind fashion on mere subjects of conversation. I guess the whole ordeal had struck in me a sensitive spot. I felt emotionally engaged as if it were my own self I was defending, my own integrity being mocked, my own sanity being questioned.

Unknowingly I began to embody the overall tension of the situation, with shoulders raised, neck extended forward and an arched back. Or was it the hand? I felt it closer to my neck now. My attempt to turn and to finally identify who was putting me through such an ill-mannered torture was fruitless. So great was its stronghold on my neck that I could not even turn. So, I reached behind me once again to push back the offender, but found yet again nothing but dead air. I turned to my company for help, but they were all too captivated by the ruthless woman and her tricks. Desperate, I reached out to her. As a plea for help, but not without anger, I must admit, I grabbed her neck. I was, at this point, contorting with pain and I must have used a firmer grip than was my intention for the woman screamed. And as she whipped around, I saw a lonely drop of blood run down her neck line.

The room was quiet. All looked at me, awestruck. I thought that they had finally awakened to the tyranny I was struggling under. If not by seeing the aggressor standing behind, at least by my facial and body expressions. Nothing. It seemed all they could see was what I had done to that wretched woman. Will no one help me, I screamed. As the words sped out of my mouth, I realised that I had finally been released. I peered around my shoulder. No one. In fact everyone else but our intimate group seemed to have left for quite some time. Furthermore, and to my own demise, it looked like they had taken what I had said as a mockery to the woman, whom by now had transitioned from feeling scared, to feeling angry.

Then the thought dawned on me that I knew none of them well enough to seek support, so I shuffled my belongings in my bag, and with haste fled the scene.

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