Scratching

I couldn’t help but notice the way he scratched his face every time he said something. He’d speak, and then after, he’d scrub at the same spot with his nails. Just below his earlobe, right on the line of his jaw. It’s almost as if he regretted every word he uttered, and this habit of his was a way of erasing it. A nervous twitch, but more than that. It was constant.
The thing is, though, the stuff he was saying was really interesting. I knew that I was going to get on with this guy because of the way he spoke and things he said. The words he chose. And yet each thing he said was interrupted by this scratching. Like he had no confidence in anything he said. Like he was unsure of it all. And yet he was so interesting. I wanted to listen to him all night but it just made me so uncomfortable and I just had to tell him.
‘Stop it,’ I said, taking his hand in mine as he raised it to his face. ‘You don’t have to do that.’
‘Do what?’ He said.
He had no idea.
He had absolutely no idea he was doing it.
A minute longer and I’m certain he would have drawn blood.

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