Reading time: ~5-10 minutes
Jacob’s eyes widened. He let go of the tiny arm and his thumb released the little guy’s legs in pure surprise. The fear on that little face became more obvious just before it disappeared behind the miniature hands. The tiny person drew his knees up to his chest and curled into a protective ball, shoulders bouncing in time with his frantic sobs.
Suddenly, Jacob felt like such an ass.
His surprise over finding a tiny man climbing on his bag had overridden all but the most fascinated reactions. He’d dismissed the first fearful looks entirely as a product of the initial shock.
“H-hey, don’t cry,” he said softly, holding his hand up in front of his eyes to get a closer look. “Did I hurt you?”
He got no answer. The little guy merely curled up tighter and continued to sob in a voice so quiet Jacob hardly heard it. He was terrified, and Jacob had caused it.
“Please talk to me,” he tried again. “If I hurt you, I need you to tell me so I can try to help …” his voice trailed off as his words had no effect. Jacob pursed his lips and stared, slowly lowering his hand. Other than the sobs and a few squeaks of fear, he hadn’t heard much out of the tiny man. Jacob didn’t even know if he could talk.
“Listen, if you can understand me, I’m sorry,” he said in his softest voice yet. “I’m not … I don’t wanna hurt you. If I did, I’m sorry … I was stupid and I just kinda acted without thinking.”
For several seconds, the tiny man continued to sob. Jacob didn’t see any indication that he’d made any headway communicating with the little guy, and he thought about letting him down to the floor to scurry away. Despite that, his curiosity kept his hand hovering right where it was.
The sobs tapered off and Jacob continued to watch as the tiniest shoulders he’d ever seen hitched up and down. The little guy sniffled once, and then heaved a long sigh. When he finally peeked past his tiny hands up at Jacob’s face, his eyes were still watery and he still shook. Jacob’s heart faltered.
“I’m sorry,” he said again. His voice was quieter, but it still inspired a frightened flinch and a retreat behind those tiny hands. The little face disappeared for a second, and then peeked up once more. This time, Jacob didn’t say a word.
It took the tiny man a long time to work up the courage, but he revealed more and more of his face as his hands lowered. Tears glistened on his cheeks and his hands shuddered when he finally uncovered his little mouth. It opened, and no sound came out.
A tiny cough escaped the little guy, and he spoke at last. “P-please put me down,” he said meekly, his eyes begging Jacob to comply.
Jacob lowered his hand too abruptly. Those little arms flailed with the sudden drop, and the little guy winced when Jacob paused. “Ah, I’m sorry,” he echoed. He lowered his hand with more care, and the little guy swayed on his palm but didn’t flinch.
His hand was barely an inch from the table when the little guy scrambled towards the edge. He nearly toppled himself over, and staggered away from Jacob on shaky legs. His little eyes were wide and staring upwards, while his little cloth-wrapped feet shuffled backwards. “Y-you actually did it,” he observed. His voice was hoarse and croaky from his crying, and Jacob had to strain to hear it.
“Yeah,” Jacob replied sheepishly. “I’m … I didn’t mean to scare you like that … please don’t run off yet?”