by Winnie Kay
Melissa get's an art lesson.
She stopped in front of the protective ropes and leaned forward to get a better look. Melissa had never seen anything like it—seemingly random numbers and letters surrounding a hand. A bare hand. Her classmates continued on with their guide through the art gallery.
“Interesting piece, no?” The man’s voice startled her and she quickly turned. He was sitting on the marble bench across from the painting. A gloved hand leaned upon an ornately decorated cane. His gray hair fell over the collar of his tweed jacket. “It was painted back in 2020 before the Global Virus,” the old man informed the eleven-year-old.
“I wonder what the numbers and letters mean?” Melissa went back to her study of the unusual art work.
“The artist painted them, floating around the hand, to represent all the formulas and mathematical calculations that had been tested for an antidote.”
“How do you know so much about this painting, mister?”
“Because, young lady, that’s my own hand. I painted that twenty years ago when it was lawful to expose your hands in public. Why, back then you could even walk right up to a stranger and grip the palm of your hand with his. The two hands would clasp each other and move up and down. It was called a hand shake.”
Melissa stared at the old man in disbelief. She placed a gloved hand over her mouth and said, “Excuse me, sir, I have to catch up with my class,” and she bowed her goodbye a safe distance away from the artist.
“What was that all about?” Melissa’s best friend, Jessica, asked when she joined the fifth graders.
“See that old guy over there on that bench? He told me that people used to actually touch each other with their hands. I think he’s sick.”