Fingerprints This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   Therattling in the car was the only soothing noise that night. Pressing my fingerson certain parts of the door trying to figure out what it was, I made my way tothe foggy window, planted my hand on it, leaving my handprint with tiny littlelines running through it like a snowflake. I stared at it, ignoring the rattlingand watching my fingerprints fading away. The car stopped and I realized I wasfinally home. Staring at the old basketball net attached to the rusted rim, Icould feel his eyes studying me. I glanced in his direction, not really looking,and mumbled, "Guess I'll see you around." He grunted something I didn'thear. My hand searched the door desperately for the handle to get out of thisawkward silence. I got out and shut the door. That was the end of that. I took adeep breath and went up the rotting porch stairs.

All through dinner, hehad played with his silverware, twirling it around on the table. He sat back intohis seat, sipping his iced tea, avoiding eye contact as I fiddled with my stolenring. I eventually ended the conversation in mid-sentence. Gazing across theroom, I saw four old ladies laughing as they slapped their wrinkly married handson the table as they told jokes about their husbands. I imagined myself old,probably alone, unable to commit to anyone, the opposite of those ladies withtheir big purses filled with packets of tissue, wire brushes and loose powder.

My ring slipped from my fingers, and, as it rang against the table, Isnapped back to reality. Looking up slowly with a half-smirk and eyebrows raised,I hoped he wasn't talking. He just looked back, studying my face. For a minute Ifelt like I'd been caught talking in class. The waitress came with our check andwe left quickly.

My phone rang shortly after I got home. It was my verygood friend Nick.

"What's wrong? You sound like you havesomething on your mind," Nick said. I hadn't even told him I'd been on adate from hell, he just knew. He knew me. I told him everything that happened. Heinterrupted and said, "I thought you didn't want to see anyone right now.You know my offer is still on the table."

I sighed, trying to buytime. I said something that just seemed right for this time, and all the othertimes he was going to ask me the same question whenever I went on adate.

"You're the type of guy I would want tomarry."

"Only if I quit smoking, right?" Nicksaid.

Nick and I were, and always will be, competing with each other,whether in intense video games, wrestling around, or making bets. About threemonths before, we'd strolled up to a party where the walls were no longer intact,pictures hung crookedly, and the carpet was spotted gray and dark from cigaretteashes and spilt drinks. Music vibrated the walls and floor. I walked close toNick, grabbing his arm as he led me through the crowd surrounding the keg. Wemade our way to the dining room with its big wooden table and mix of metalfolding chairs and small wooden ones. We sat, trying to avoid the clutter ofempty cups and the stickiness of beer. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted adeck of playing cards. Without a word I started dealing them. Nick looked at thecards that were hitting him in the hand, then looked at me.

"If Iwin, you have to quit smoking," I said.

"All right, if I win,you have to do whatever I say for one night," Nick countered. I nodded andpicked up the bent cards. We played two games, since he couldn't handle losingthe first. He ended with a big smile on his face as he slapped down his cards. Hereached into his pocket and pulled out a cigarette to enjoy hisvictory.

"I'll start to quit on Sunday," Nick said.

Theday I was to fulfill my side of the bet, I picked up Nick at his house. He wasstanding at the end of the driveway as usual, smoking. He took a long drag andstarted walking down the drive. He casually turned and flicked his cigarette; myeye caught the light reflecting off what he was holding. He swung open the doorand plopped down a pair of ice skates.

"What is this?" Iasked

"The bet was that you do whatever I say, and I say you're goingice skating with me." He answered.

"I can't skate, are younuts?" I exclaimed. He just shrugged and turned up theradio.

"Can't believe you." I said under mybreath.

"What?" Nick asked.

"Nevermind," Isaid.

When we reached the parking lot, I couldn't even reach the doorswithout a salty mushy snowball hitting me in the face. I could hear his laughterbehind me. I quickly grabbed a chunk of snow and chucked it in his direction. Itflew by him and hit a blue van five feet to his right. Before he could evencomment I told him to shut up. He caught up behind me, laughing, and opened thedoor.

Waiting in the rental line, I watched all the brightly colored coatsgliding around the rink with ease, like a carousel. Reluctantly, I grabbed theugly brown skates and sat. Nick helped me lace them up so they were tight aroundmy ankles. Awkwardly, I made my way to the ice. Taking a deep breath, I steppedonto the ice, my arms flying around like I was on fire. Nick jumped onto the ice,circling, forward and backward. The way he glided across the ice, he lookedconnected to it. Slowly I started off as he skated backward in front ofme.

"Come on, it's not that hard," Nick said.

He skatedoff, bobbing and weaving through people. He circled around me, cutting me off,trying to make me fall. He came up behind me and put his hands on my hips andstarted pushing me forward, telling me I wasn't going fast enough. He finallystopped after I almost ran over three little kids. Soon my ankles and feetcouldn't take anymore. I took a seat as my ankles throbbed. Nick watched meexamine my red ankles and checked the time.

"We have to get going, sowe don't miss the movie," Nick said. I looked up at him, shaking my head indisbelief and trying to hide the smile under my smirk.

Then I got busywith guys who came into my life and forgot about some friends. I only talked toNick occasionally, to see how he was doing. I'd tell him I'd call later butwouldn't. After a few nights drowning my pillow with frustrated tears from baddates and rejections, I realized what was really missing. I picked up the phoneand called Nick. I asked what he was up to. He said he was busy at the moment andwould call back. He never did. I called a couple more times, and he gave me thesame treatment I had given him. I couldn't stop thinking of all the good timeswe'd had, even the ones when I ended up getting tackled in the snow. I calledagain, hoping to see him and reconstruct what I had destroyed. He agreed to goout one night.

He showed up at my house the next day to see me come outthe door prepared with hat, gloves, scarf and a borrowed pair of ice skates. Wewent back to his house to grab his skates and warmer clothes. I directed him toan isolated pond. I looked through the foggy window at the houses showing offtheir flashing Christmas lights, yards filled with mangers and reindeer. I saw alarge glow of lights coming up. I put my hand to the window to wipe the fog so Icould see the lights and figurines. I stopped myself, remembering my handprint onthe window and being mesmerized by watching my fingerprints fade away from solong ago. I wiggled my warm hand from my mitten and placed it against the window.

The cold sent goose bumps down my arm and through my body. I brought myhand back into the comfort of my mitten, waiting for my handprint to fade. Istared at it, looking at all the lines and creases of the imprint. I looked atthe edges closely, seeing if they were being taken over by the fog around it, butit wasn't moving. My eyes started to water trying not to blink, afraid I wouldmiss its disappearance. I wiped the blurriness away.

At the pond, the glowof houses and a distant, flickering streetlight gave just enough light to see theoutline of trees and fallen branches. We found a log to sit on and put on ourskates. Nick again helped me with tying my laces. Snow began falling gently as westarted to skate. Nick was going fast when he decided to do a hockey stop. Icespewed off his skates as he hit the ice hard. My laughter echoed as I made fun ofhim.

Before I could move out of his way, he had tackled me into a nearbysnow bank, still laughing. It quickly got softer when he put his cool hand on myface. He shook his head and whispered, "Here goes nothing." His fingerbrushed across my lips, as his warm mouth found mine.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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