With a thick index finger he slid his glasses to the tip of his nose and peered over the frames towards something in the distance.
“You see how the light hits that leaf, makes it look incandescent?” He pointed.
“Incandescent?” She asked.
“You know. You can see through it. The veins and arteries. What are they called on leaves? Whatever they’re called.”
“You mean transparent. Not incandescent.”
“I know what transparent means. Gheesh. I don’t mean that. Transparent is something you can see through. That is not this. You can’t see through it, can you? You see into it. You see—it looks lit. I mean incandescent. There is a light in it, like it’s digesting the sun. I mean incandescent.” He gestured emphatically and then dropped both hands in his lap.
He was quiet. The air felt alive and bright with the noises of the early evening.
“Yes. It is pretty. I see the leaf. That one leaf, it looks brighter. Yes, you might be right. What made you say something?
“What made you say that?” She repeated and turning to him.
“Oh well, it’s like your hands, isn’t it? The skin on your hands. I noticed them.” He nodded towards her hands. She looked down at her right hand and then held it out, just above her lap.
She flipped it over to inspect it back, as one would admire a piece of jewelry. Contours deepened with age and use. Bony knuckles. Old nail beds and blunt, neat nails. The soft folds of skin had stretched and become more transparent—yes, transparent, not incandescent. Or perhaps the bones and muscles had just gently relaxed and shrunk. Perhaps both. They didn’t look like they used to, her hands. They reminded her of her mother’s hands, as much as she could remember.
“What about them?” She flipped them over in front of her. “I don’t see anything. Just age spots and wrinkles. Bony knuckles.”
“No, like this.” He took her hand and held it up gently. He put it in front of the light of the low sun, so there was a hand shadow on his face. “See how it looks? You can see the veins and arteries. Like the leaf. It’s lit. Incandescent.”
Satisfied, he brought her hand down and let it go. “Beautiful.”
She didn’t say anything but returned her hand to her lap. After a pause, she asked “Do yours do it?”
“Your hand. Hold it up.”
“Naw. Too thick, mine. Just yours. Beautiful hands, yours. Always loved your hands.”
The sun set slowly, taking the light with it.
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