Fingertips

By Fatima Al-Shemary

The fingerprinting service was in a miniscule suite located in between an ice cream parlor and a lingerie store. Because the place was so concealed, the young woman had trouble finding it, but she arrived before she before she became inexcusably late.

She entered the basic public service room with the white tiled floor, sparsely decorated walls and standard fluorescent lighting. Several rows of blue plastic chairs were set up in the front, but the room appeared to be empty. A tall cubicle screen stood near the front of the room, next to the chairs.

A young man emerged from the back room and approached her. He wore a navy blue work polo and light brown khaki trousers. He held out his hand and she took it, noticing how strong and warm it felt around hers. When he released her, heat rushed into her face.

“Hello. Do you have an appointment today?” He said in a cool and businesslike tone, but the way he looked at her was neither cool nor businesslike. His gaze paused for a moment on her hands, which she now had held together in front of her.

She showed him her appointment slip and her photo ID. He told her to remain where she was while he went behind the screen with her driver’s license.

“Where were you born and what is your current address?” he asked from behind the cubicle.

She answered him.

He typed the information into a computer. She sat in one of the chairs and waited a few more minutes,

“I’d like you to walk back here now, please,” he instructed.

When she went over to the cubicle, he stood next to the fingerprint screening machine, holding a cleansing wipe in his hands.

“We’re going to start with your right hand,” he said quietly.

He watched intently as she took her rings off, one by one, and set them down on the table next to the machine.

She held out her hand and he took it in his, surprising her when he started wiping the tips of her fingers with the cleansing wipe. She knew he was watching her, and didn’t look him in the eye as he stroked her fingertips.

He then placed her hand against the small bright screen, pressing her fingers down gently. She watched as her fingerprints came into view on the computer screen.

He repeated the process with her left hand

“Now we’re going to do the same thing with each finger. We’re going to roll the tip against the screen from side to side,” he said, still holding her hand and watching at her with an expectant look. He wanted her consent.

She yielded her hand to him trustfully. He began wiping her index finger with a new cleansing wipe, slower this time, and then gently rolled her fingertip against the screen to get the full print. His movements were swift and sure. She wondered how many other people he had done this with.

She looked up at him and he smiled at her. She relaxed.

“And now your middle finger,” he said. “Ring finger, little finger, thumb.”

He continued until he got the full prints of all her fingers, then he gave her her hands back. A pleasant sensation lingered in her skin. He printed off the receipt and instructed her to send it to her employer by mail.

“Thank you. You have a great day,” he said, smiling knowingly.

“You too.”

She put her rings on and left the building, her fingertips still warm from his touch.

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