Pas de Deux: Adagio 2

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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.

Pas de Deux: Adagio

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  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.

Pas de Deux: Entrée

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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.

 

Disaster Averted

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“What if I said yes?” Kat propped herself on the breakfast counter.

 Grant slipped a spatula under the edge of her omelet and flipped. “To onions? Too late.”

“No, to marriage.” She pushed dark bedhead curls from her furrowed brow.

 “Oh, that. Co-ordinate benefits. Joint checking. Widow’s pension if you get lucky and I don’t.” He stopped in mid lift. “You’re serious, aren’t you?”

“The couple in Paris. That stupid game. I know you now.”

A burnt smell. “Don’t distract me.” Grant slid the eggs to a cherry red plate. He pivoted. “Then, kiss me, Kate.”

Proposal # Six

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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.

 

Proposals # Three, Four and Five

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Grant was determined. He thought, “Third time’s a charm.” But it wasn’t. They vacationed in Paris. He proposed at the Eiffel Tower, in the small park where they took selfies sitting in front of tulips. He knelt. She said, “That’s so retro.”

The next day at Versailles, he brought the box out and showed it to an elderly American couple for approval. They endorsed his proposal. Kat smiled and said, “It hasn’t been long enough. He asked me just yesterday.” On the RER to CDG, she said no again, but agreed to give up her lease when they got home.

Proposal # 2

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 After they’d been together for exactly a year, Grant made dinner on a
Saturday while Kat was working. When she got home, he drew a warm
bath for her and lathered her up and wrapped her in an oversized
towel. He said he wanted to work up an appetite.
 The white box was sitting next to Kat’s spoon. She used her fork to
secure her steak, cutting small pieces from it. She sipped red wine
while he drank still water. No comment on the ring. She cleared the
table, washed the dishes. Grant slipped behind her. She said, “No
wedding.”