That first day, and most days after, they met to ride the MUNI home after work. Without planning or calling beforehand, they stepped to the curb at quarter past five in a kind of rhythm they found hard to explain. Theirs was a love that rose like yeasted dough. Water and flour and biga that became silky smooth with kneading. His fingers, feather light as a sigh, brushed her hair aside, the copper strands falling in waves against his wrist.
She smiled, leaning closer.
He followed her between dented seats, along the sidewalk and up a dingy flight of stairs.
It was warm in an autumn way. He treated her to lunch. Carrying take-out bags, they found a quiet spot where golden red leaves, the color of her hair, decorated the ground. They bit into egg salad sandwiches and broke a peanut butter cookie, sharing the pieces. He swept the shoulder of her blouse, sending dried leaves into a spiral. She thanked him, a hint of embarrassment in her voice. He wrapped his jacket around her. She filled the awkward silence, busy fingers turning a napkin into an origami bird while he nodded, both waiting for the other to start.
They approached each other on a slippery concrete walk. Their eyes met. Though she was usually unflappable, she missed a step. He was sometimes oblivious, but noticed, reaching for her elbow, sliding his hand to the meat of her tricep, steadying her wobbling frame. She blushed, a warm pink starting low and blooming high. In that moment of contact, it seemed to her that he would never let her down. Even as her legs splayed and her arms stood akimbo in the earthquake of feminism that cracked glass ceilings and rocked couples to a new generation’s music, she trusted him.
For Kat’s birthday, Grant made a board game. He scoured thrift shops, looking for tokens. The game squares read: darkest secret, childhood fear, favorite sexual position. They played together. Sometimes with close friends. She liked the heart token. He liked the stallion. The Identity Forest, a square decorated with tall oaks surrounded by question marks, asked: “Do you know yourself?” The answer was in the True Confessions stack. One card said, “I’ll marry Grant.” If a friend read it, they had a laugh. But he proposed each time she landed on that square, in case Kat drew the desired answer.