The Unfamiliar by Sanchita Satishkumar

Life was full of the familiar and the unfamiliar. Each road, each house, and each hand that I met was unfamiliar once. I had met many roads, houses, and hands in my eighteen years. 

I gripped onto my mother’s soft fingers, her skin warm and her knuckles poking against my palm. She was huddled under a coat, and her dark braid fell across her shoulder, lips moving with chatter that floated through one ear and out the next. 

It wasn’t that I was ignoring her. I loved listening to her stories, her own meetings with other roads, houses, and hands. Rather, it was that all I could focus on was the curve of the moon against the expanse of the night sky. The moon was my forever companion – across each unfamiliar road, house, and hand. 

My gaze fell to the trees ahead of us as the winter air pushed them to sway, a few shaken leaves fluttering to the smooth pavement. I clutched my mother’s hand tighter, pushing closer until our sides were pressed together and she paused her story to glance down at me and smile. A comforting, familiar twitch of the lips that she brushed against my hair in a kiss. 

I took solace in the familiarity: the moon winking down at us, the warmth of my mother’s touch, and the consistent scuffs our shoes made on the ground with each step. Soon, I would be stepping onto an airplane and entering adulthood where more unfamiliar roads, houses, and hands awaited. 

I inhaled deeply as the cold air calmed the nervous flutter of my heart and exhaled while looking at the moon. I had to hold the familiar close. 

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