“Hold up your right hand,” he said.
I obeyed. He studied my raised palm and fingers intently, but without touching them. Then he looked deep into my questioning eyes before refocusing on my hand. He took a breath before speaking.
“Please hold up the other one.”
Again, I obeyed, sitting forward in the threadbare burgundy wingback inhaling the slightly sweet musty smell that one only finds in prewar buildings.
“You have secret keeper hands, perhaps the most textbook pair I’ve ever seen,” the reader said after a long moment.
I looked at my uplifted palms and then back at him, waiting for his explanation.
“When I asked you to raise your hands I didn’t tell you how to hold them up. There was a reason for that. I needed to observe your natural movements. Your fingers are held close together and they bend into the palm, almost as if they are holding or protecting something. And then there’s this.”
He touched my pinky and gently held it between his thumb and forefinger.
“What’s wrong with it?”
“Nothing!” he laughed, “But it’s crooked, a sure sign of a secret keeper.”
My little finger twitched out of his grasp.
“May I?” he asked holding his palm out across the table.
I nodded and placed my hand in his. He ran his long fingers over the top of my hand before deliberately turning it palm up and tracing the arches and grooves.
“People tell you things—deep things, intimate things—without you asking. Something about you compels them to confess, to share, to open up. To do so is a relief, a lightening of a burden. And you never tell. You protect their secrets fiercely, with loyalty akin to a mother bear for her cub, don’t you?”
“I really couldn’t say.”