HOLLOW HANDS

February 9, 2015

Every June 15th I’d spend the day hanging out at the end of my long driveway waiting for Maidie to drive by and start her summer move-in two houses away.  I knew she was coming, long before I saw her car. She drove so slowly that the dust cloud preceded her. When she got closer to her house, she’d speed up a bit, and reveal herself out of the dust. Gloved hands on the wheel, at 10-and-2. She always looked at me as her car rolled by; I could feel it, but I pretended not to see her. Instead I always bended over to pick up the most interesting rock at that very moment.  As soon as I knew I’d be hidden her car’s dust trail, I’d make my dash to hide behind the shrubs in the Riggleman’s yard where I could watch Maidie unload her car. I loved the way her bright-white gloves stood out against whatever other object she was carrying.

 

Maidie’s house was never locked, even though she only spent summers there. For the past two years, as soon as she left for the season, I’d go inside and look around. Last year, she left a pair of her gloves on the table closest to the front door. They looked like a pair of hollow hands, just reaching out for someone—so I took them. The fingers were too long. When I wore them, I fidgeted with the extra material at the fingertips, like I had an extra digit I could bend any way I liked.  I told myself I could only wear them when I visited Maidie’s house. I’d begun visiting Maidie’s house a lot. I’d put on the gloves, sit at the dining table and pretend to be a friend of Maidie’s.

 

“What did you buy us at the store today?” I’d ask her.

 

“Oh Pamela, the usual.”  She’d say.

 

“Of course!” I’d say.

 

And we’d both laugh, because we knew each other so well, that of course she’d know exactly what to buy for us, and no one but us knew what the usual was.

 

Maidie’s house was my secret haven, her gloves a costume to a new identity, one where what I said was funny to someone, the things I talked about, important and heard. I’d sit for hours and study a knot in the pine wall, knowing it was alright with Maidie if we just sat in silence sometimes.  If I stared long enough, I hoped the center of the knot would open up and reveal a pathway into another part of the house, a part only I’d know about, and would have to tell Maidie how to get there. I’d spend time writing letters to Maidie, filling her in on what was happening around the house while she was away. “Two mice ran through the living room. Someone left a flyer for the new pizza place in your front door.” Sometimes I’d write poems, the serious kind, that didn’t have rhymes. I’d sing out loud, and once, taken one of Mother’s beers to Maidie’s house and drank it, gloves on, out of one of her teacups, sipping until I felt light-headed.

 

As I watched her unloading the car this time, part of me wanted to reveal myself, run out and greet her.

 

“Everything’s just as you left it, Maidie. Just as we like it,” I’d tell her.

 

“Wonderful, darling.  Just wonderful. I knew you’d keep the place up to snuff, “ she’d say back.

 

But I’d never even met Maidie. Even Mother had never met her, even though she said Maidie’s been spending summers at that house for the last 22 years.

 

“Pamela, people like Maidie don’t want to know people like us,” Mother said, “So steer clear.” And Maidie did keep to herself once she moved in for the summer, but I wondered if she was ever lonely being there in that house all alone. I’d once heard my mother say to Mrs. Riggleman, “She’s an odd duck, that one. Wearing gloves like it’s 1953!” And Mrs. Riggleman lost herself in a fit of laughter. I couldn’t understand what was funny, and I’d made a mental note to look up information about 1953 the next time Mother got us a ride into town and I could visit the library.

 

Maidie made one last trip out to the car, and I knew she was leaving for the store. It’s what she always did, headed into town to get her groceries as soon as she’d unloaded the car. Maidie turned the car around and headed down the driveway, and when I saw the dust float above the treeline at the end of the driveway, I got up and went inside. I swore to myself this would be the last time, at least until the end of the summer when she left again. I just wanted to see what kind of things she’d brought with her.

 

Inside the front door, again on the table, was another pair of gloves. They neatly stacked, one on top of the other, almost in prayer. These gloves were different. They looked smaller. And something else. Something small and pink. My heart pounded as I reached for the gloves, and began to put them on. In tiny, curly pink script on the inside base of the right hand glove, I saw it. My name. Pamela. There was no air in the room, which didn’t matter, because I was holding my breath anyway.

 

I hadn’t heard a thing beyond the sound of my own heart in my ears. Not the car in the driveway, nor the click of the opening door, but suddenly there, standing before me, a pair of crisp, white gloves, positioned on the hips of Maidie herself.

 

“I love your gloves,” she said, and smiled.

 

 

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