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Left Behind
By Julie Drake
Genre: Non-fiction Level: College
Year: 2000 Category: UAA/ADN Creative Writing Contest

Gone are the country crafts. In their place hang ferns and Hollywood photos. Across the table in the booth of the restaurant that we called the Garden Gate when we were growing up but now is renamed Gadzooks, I lightly touch Kris' hand. Instantly, my blood is infused with the sweet memories of our childhood. Best friends. After more than 20 years, I am again touching the hands that pulled me out of the cold creek on Water Street after I fell in while catching crawdads. The hands that took a red pistachio out of her mouth and rubbed it over my lips, staining them like lipstick and getting us both in trouble. The hands that massaged summer-smelling Coppertone lotion on my back before reaching up to pinch closed her nose-clip so she could dive into the deep end of the municipal pool. The hands that threw the rock for hopscotch, that bounced the ball to me playing four-square at Indian Park. The hands that squished Sunbeam bread filled with butter and sugar into sweet dough balls that stuck deliciously to the roofs of our mouths. The hands that put acorn lids to lips for whistles, that placed fallen horse chestnuts in pockets for good luck, that threw maple seeds in the air for play helicopters. That carried algebra books while mine carried trig and calculus texts, remedial grammar versus my Shakespeare. The hands that stuck a syringe needle full of insulin into her thigh twice a day, then raised too many beers to her mouth at parties at the old Rock School, that touched boys' private parts long before my hands ever did. Hands that rocked babies, changed diapers, wiped tears from soft cheeks and wrote checks for kids' clarinet lessons. Kris' hands raise a goblet of Perrier toward mine for a toast. My hands have aged differently; they have held boarding passes, phrase books, a briefcase, a five-weight fly-rod. They have typed financial statements, business plans; penned paychecks and poetry. Kris' are the hands that will steer the wheel of the minivan she'll drive to the feed mill this evening at 5 to pick up Roger. Mine will drive my rental car back to the airport. Kris' hands I touch again today, perhaps for the last time. Hands I'll leave behind. Hands that have left mine behind.

About the Author: Julie Drake attends the University of Alaska Anchorage. "Left Behind" won first place for College Nonfiction as well as the Editor's Choice Award

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