We met during the warm time.
I had been sitting on a bench in my favorite park. The benches here were softer and smoother than in other parts of the city, and the grass here of a particularly strange but wonderful texture. We tended to live divided by ability, mostly for the sake of convenience. People over in the Hearing sector don't care much for scented candles, after all, and those of us in the Touch sector don't need large supermarkets. When it comes to food, we value nutrition and texture.
It was one of those days where the sun made you feel like you were giving off your own heat from the inside. A gentle breeze blew by every now and then, blowing a few strands of my hair out of place. I was sitting with my palms opened upward when suddenly I felt a soft touch in the center of my palm.
My fingers curled around the hand that greeted me. A stranger. Delicate fingers. With my other hand, I reached out to touch the small indentations on the inside of the stranger's wrist that would signify their sector.
I released their hand.
Hello, I signed. Can I help you with something?
They grabbed my hand. What is your name? they signed into my palm.
Alice. What is yours?
She paused, giving my fingers a squeeze. Then, finally, she signed again. I just wanted to tell you that you're the most beautiful person I've ever seen.
Beauty was a concept I understood in theory. But I wasn't sure I had ever grasped it on a visceral level. Vision and Hearing used this term a lot. Others had described it to Taste and Smell as delicious. To our sector, the best they could come up with was soft. But even that didn't seem to capture the idea quite right.
Orgasmic? one of my friends had once asked someone from Hearing. But that was a word they couldn't quite grasp.
Thank you, I signed back to Emily. I'm not quite sure what that means, but thank you.
It comes from your physical appearance. At least, that's how I meant it.
I had heard of this idea before. What does take for someone to appear beautiful?
She hesitated. It depends on the person. Everyone has different ideas of what is beautiful.
Would you say that you are beautiful?
People have told me that I am.
Do you agree?
How strange. I laughed. I'm curious. Can I try to feel beauty on you?
Emily grabbed both of her hands with mine and put them up to her face. Slowly, I traced the edges of her nose, lips,
mouth, eyebrows, everything.
She was beautiful.
Her skin was soft. It wasn't that. There was some quality to the way in which her forehead curved down to the bridge of her nose, in which her cheekbones led up to her hairline, that I found absolutely mesmerizing. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, no matter how much I put my fingers on her.
Emily took my hand. You're crying?
She was right. There was a tear just starting to roll down my cheek.
I wish I could see you, I told her.
Emily grabbed my hand and place it over her heart. Her pulse quickened underneath my fingers. She took my other hand.
I wish I could feel you.