Lukas picked his way through the city. While his hard-soled shoes were unsuitable for navigating the tiny streets, he wasn’t about to reduce his dignity by plodding around in bare feet. From the online giant store he ordered a massive pair of very nice socks of bamboo textile, thin (to him) stripes of muted earthtones with a dash of eggplant or lime now and again. It pleased him to see the little cars slam their brakes in an intersection, to avoid ramming into his toes, then see their headlights flash in appreciation of the tasteful hosiery. This was quite a polite city.
What did he have to do in this city? Surely, it was built by littles for littles, composed of littles, but he liked to visit nonetheless. It thrilled his heart to see the arteries of commerce pumping freely, traffic surging over here, buildings slowly filling with light first thing in the morning, pedestrians and commuters surging over there. And everyone breaking for lunch as though running a society were little more than a choreographed stage production. Lukas smiled upon the citizenry, holding his blazer close to his hips and turning sideways to creep between skyscrapers with minimal damage.
The people seemed to like him, too. It had been over two years since they’d called the National Guard or even the local police. Now, groups of minuscule people showed up on balconies of corporate offices, even if they weren’t taking a smoke break: they rushed outside to wave at him and shout things in their little voices. Lukas grinned winningly back at them, wiggling the tips of his enormous fingers in greeting, when he wanted more than anything to scoop them up in his palms and rub them all gently over his cheeks and lips. It broke his heart that this could never be, for such a smoochy-makeout session would surely kill them all.
Over the grumble of traffic, however, cutting through the dull roar of low-altitude winds, Lukas heard one thin voice calling out.
“Oh, how I’d love to be cradled in gigantic hands today…”
His eyes went huge(r). What? Was he hearing this correctly? Did someone want… no, surely he was hearing things.
“What I wouldn’t give for some big, bold man to just pick me up and hold me in his palm…”
Lukas held his breath and slowly turned his head, trying to echolocate the speaker among the buildings. Noises bounced crazily off polished glass corridors, but Lukas knew the city fairly well. If he tip-toed one block north, that would eliminate the main street, and then he could lean down the boulevard and wait.
“Nothing would feel nicer than being plucked up and held so safely in a giant hand.”
His heart melted! The speaker had a voice as bright as springtime and sweet as daisies. Someone wanted him! But who? It seemed to be coming from two blocks north, yet. With consummate care he picked his way along the avenue until the buildings opened into a grove of a city park, one square city block in dimension. The center of the park swelled into a gentle hill, overlooking the playground equipment and the walking paths. It was crowned with a tree, and beneath this tree sat a young woman wearing a cute smile and an endearing, simple summer dress.
Lukas wiped his suddenly sweaty palms upon the chest of his blazer and cleared his throat. “Um, excuse me,” he intoned gently, more than familiar with the effects of his normal speaking tone upon these fragile structures.
A group of children on the monkey bars looked up and cheered at him. He smiled back, but the woman gave no indication she’d heard him.
Carefully he kneeled upon the sidewalk and crouched over the park, without looming directly over her. “Pardon me, but I couldn’t help but overhear−”
The woman’s head snapped to him abruptly, as though she hadn’t noticed his arrival. “What? What do you want?”
Words dried up in Lukas’s mouth. Her voice was the song that called him across the city, but its tone had changed. Cheeks burning, he gave up on speech and slowly reached for her with his large, empty hand.
The little woman screeched, leaped up, and hid behind the oak tree. Quickly he retracted his hand and sat up. “I’m so sorry, Miss, it’s just that I thought I heard you asking for−”
“Yeah, no, I don’t know what you heard, but leave me alone!” Her thin arms hugged the broad trunk of the tree, as though that could prevent him from peeling her off. Which he would never do! The children stopped playing and stared at the two of them.
“Then I beg your forgiveness, I’ve badly misunderstood. I’m very sorry.”
“You should be!” she yelled, then turned and ran down the opposite side of the hill, disappearing into a bank across the street.
Lukas drew a breath, then pumped all his energy into his legs to unfold, straighten, and hoist him above the city once more. With a shy little wave to the kiddies, he stepped away from the park and slumped toward downtown.
A sickly lump formed in his abdomen, something slimy and cold. Was he delusional? That was clearly the same voice each time, there was no mistaking it. He could pick out one car’s horn from a gridlock. He could single out one TV in an apartment complex. The only strange thing was how clearly her voice rang out across the city to him.
Speaking of horns, something honked by his ankle. He looked down to discover his food truck: all the local restaurants pooled together their errors and returned orders from the previous eight hours, shipping them in a semi to wherever Lukas was standing in the city. It was nothing more than an appetizer to him, all in all, but it was a kindly gesture he could never refuse. Glumly he dumped the trailer of burgers, ribs, whole chickens, and salads upon his tongue. He distracted himself with the swirling melange of flavors and tried to wash away the angry expression of that lovely woman.
The next day, Lukas merely wore an untucked dress shirt over a pair of gargantuan, distressed blue jeans, bare feet be damned. If the city didn’t like it, well… they could complain on social media and he’d review it that evening, respond with a sincere apology, and make a mental note for future wardrobes. He loved the city, after all, and he wanted them to look forward to seeing him.
“You know what would be really nice right now?”
Lukas’s heart sank in his chest. No, no, no, he wasn’t going through this again.
“I dunno, what?”
“Being gently picked up by huge fingers, right out of a crowd.”
How was this happening? Two of them, now? Alarmed, the giant clapped his palms over his ears and sat beside a spaghetti junction, hoping for the noise to drown out the conversation.
“And then he’d place me in one hand, where I could curl up right in the middle of the creases that form a ‘7’ in his palm.”
“Oh, that sounds so nice. So warm and secure. Why can’t that ever happen?”
Lukas grimaced and raised his head, estimating how far the airport was from here.
“I know, right? It makes me so sad to think that I’ll never get to experience that.”
“Life’s so unfair. Is that so much to ask? Just to curl up with a big giant man to protect us? It wouldn’t cost him anything, and it wouldn’t hurt anyone else.”
“Totally. That is absolutely correct. What I wouldn’t do, just to experience that once, before I die.”
Lukas’s heart was tearing right down the middle. Right down the middle! Unable to contain himself, he lifted away from the knot of freeway and onramps, and stepped lightly past the bus depot and industrial neighborhood. He waved his hands frantically, trying to attract the attention of afternoon commuters as he crept down the main boulevard into downtown; cars obediently pulled over and flowed out of the way like sand on a slope, baring the pavement for him. He gestured his thanks and paused at the north loop, listening.
“He’d be so big and strong.”
“And it would make me feel so special!”
“Can you imagine? Those soft, warm fingers wrapping around you and lifting you away from the earth?”
“But you’re not scared, right? Because he’s got you, and it’s a wonderful feeling. You’re totally confident that he has you.”
“And then he hugs you in his hands.”
Panting with longing, Lukas waded into the lower buildings, the hotels that came up to his knees. He sidled between the taller buildings, the capitals of industry that housed dozens of corporations and franchises. He stepped over the odd skyway, linking two buildings together at unlikely floors, setting his left foot flat upon the avenue and stretching one jean-wrapped leg nearly into the sky to step past.
The playground was empty today, and Lukas knelt beside it, planting his hands upon the hillside. There was the beautiful woman, sitting beside a rather punkish but nonetheless adorable woman with a unicorn mohawk and bright red Chucks. Oh, Lukas could have gobbled them up! But with his huge heart pounding in immense ribs, he simply gulped dryly and said, “Excuse me−”
The two women turned to face him. “Oh, for fuck’s sake,” said the pleasant woman in the nice dress.
“What’s going on?” The punkish woman’s eyes were jade dots, blinking.
“It’s that asshole I told you about.”
The punkish woman scowled and flapped her hand at the giant. “Shoo, shoo,” she said.
Lukas stared at them, slack-jawed. “I don’t understand! You were just talking about being picked up by a giant hand! I’m a giant, an actual giant!” He pointed at himself for clarification.
The woman in the dress rolled her eyes and turned away. “Who the fuck are you, eavesdropping on a private conversation?” said the punkish woman. She started to get up, but her friend grabbed her bicep and tugged her down.
“But I have the huge fingers!” He held them up. “I have the wide, soft, warm palm!” He showed them: his hand was shaking. “Who are you talking about? Who else can do this for you? I’d be happy to help you in any way I can!”
“Rude,” said the woman in the dress. The punkish woman said he was a typical man, and her friend had to agree.
“I don’t understand! I don’t understand what’s going on!”
The woman in the dress gestured toward herself and her friend. “What’s going on is that this is an A−B conversation: C your way out.”
The punkish woman laughed. “Yeah, this is a January−February conversation: March your way on out of it.”
Dizzy with confusion and despair, Lukas took a moment to calm his hitching breaths before rising to his feet and slipping away. The women’s laughter rang loud and clear behind him, no matter how many blocks he crossed, even as he entered the suburbs. Their laughter rang in his head as he strode less guardedly through the exurbs, and then he could really stretch his legs in the rural tracts.
The city wrote op-eds about how they missed their friendly, well-dressed giant, and they watched online to see whether he’d adopted another metropolitan area. They mused about the unknowable ways of giants, marveling at how they just showed up, pontificating over where they wandered off to. Giants were so hard to understand, after all.