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  • Kokoha

Touches on a Night Out

This night was messy.

In mini skirts and knee-high boots, the seven of us girls marched the streets of Nagoya. With our hands tucked in our coat pockets, the freezing wind numbed our bare legs, although the excitement for that night propelled us forward to our destination. Inside the venue was warm, almost hot, and the air weighed down with the smell of cigarettes and alcohol. The gray smog filled our lungs, and although we knew it wasn’t healthy, we couldn’t help but find relief at the warmth it spread to our cold bodies. It was dark and flashing in red and pink: the only light came from neon signs next to the DJ.

That night, in the midst of my memories of all of us singing, screaming, and dancing, I cannot help but recall our touches.

1 AM. Holding onto the hands of my friend in front of me, I reached my other hand behind my back to grip the hands of the friend behind me. Linked solely by hands, the seven of us made our way to the front. This way, we wouldn’t get lost in the crowd. This touch was guidance.

2 AM. I let loose and threw my hands in the air. Arching my back to the reverberant beat, my friend caresses my hip. It was a feeling I was familiar with - usually in the hands of a stranger, although this time, her hands didn’t feel like an invitation or an obligation. Instead, her hand gracefully glided and danced on and over the hem of my dress. This touch was comfort.

3 AM. “Hold onto my drink while I go to the bathroom!” she said. With no hesitation, I reached for my friend's cup. I clutched her half-full cup, and I felt her fingers, cold from the ice in her red bull vodka, brush up against mine. This touch was protection.

4 AM. I gently supported my girls' faces as I searched for their ears in the loud music. With my hand on their chins, I leaned into their ear. My girls did the same replying, embracing my face like that would somehow amplify their voices. Their hand felt affectionate along my cheek and chin. This touch was care.

5 AM. Blinded by the brightness of the morning sun, we sit slumped over in a McDonald’s with hash browns and ice teas. My friend rests her hand on my thigh, and I close my eyes. I let my guard down, and I allow myself to be embraced by my exhaustion. Sleep was not an escape from chaos then, it was simply a rest - tranquil and serene. This touch was safety.

Our touches distanced themselves from each other as we waved goodbye, and I was back into the cold, alone. With every gust of wind that took away my warmth, I felt more and more human. Human in the sense that I was vulnerable. Bare. And I instantly missed my girl's touches. Each touch was compassionate and soft-hearted, unlike the ones I am used to - the kind of touch that is often followed by a lewd demand and leaves me feeling dirty and raw. The kind of touch that digs into my waist, thighs, and cleavage, and marks me with invisible handprints. Alone, now walking to the train station, this is the kind of touch I feared.

That night, our touches were tender. Within the friction of our every touch lingered an unspoken message – that we were there for each other, guided, comforted, protected, cared for, and safe.

Edited by Emiru Okada

Graphic by Claudia MacPhail


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