J. Robert gives out an exaggerated sigh, on your time then.

***

A leaf dances on the driveway. A nuthatch walks backward down a tree. After thirty seven slow sit-ups, Evan showers.

***

The men part for him. Some grumble. One says, Go on.

The door opens before he knocks. Is the time right? he says.

She says his words, the only words he planned. You waited for me.

Yes. He holds out one hand, not two. Two would be forceful, just one open palm waiting casually, so she can make up her own mind.

What do we do now?

He is cognizant that his reply will be the deciding factor and the length it takes him to get there. Whether she will accept his hand rides on the perfection of his answer.

We will walk in the rain. The drops will hide her tears, he thinks.

She takes his hand, perhaps for balance, while placing one foot into a rubber boot and the next.

He said the right thing, suggested the right move. He feels the weight of her reliance, more than relaxed, less than dependent.

Trucks up and down the block start. Cars pull out. A few gun their engines. Most just leave. A motorcycle doing a wheelie tears away.

They walk out into the misty rain, Evan committing to memory each step, past the first tree — a redwood, the next tree — a tall fir, the next — another redwood, and eventually along the creek, under the dripping row of willows.

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