He‘s positioned with his back to the three-story building, facing the carriage house. His slim butt nestles on an overturned bucket. Holding up a brass sash handle, he inspects its sheen, and then continues to polish. A cardinal flits low, almost brushing his head. He doesn’t look up. A bee lands on his muscular bicep. He ignores it.
Hundreds of wooden doors and window frames lean against the trunk of a maple tree. A box of electrical wire rests near an open door. Copper pipes protrude from his truck bed stacked high with sheet rock. The rustle of leaves muffles a voice on NPR.
Alecia sits on the cement steps surrounded by coneflowers and hostas, holding an open envelope.
With an action of a loving mother to her new infant, he gently places the handle on a table made of two sawhorses and a rough plank of plywood. A leaf flutters from a tree and lands on the shimmering metal. Bending, he blows it to the ground, straightening the handle.
Quiet as a fly on a leaf, Alecia watches, her right heel tapping.
He picks up a board and carrying it to a table saw, positions it. Maneuvering a Tai Chi move, he guides it through the whirling blade. He holds up the piece of oak, glides his finger over the cut, nods, and settles it on another table, then picks up a second board.
Standing, she heads his way. He glances at her, turns off the saw and smiles.
She takes a deep breath, and like a pelican in search of food, takes the plunge. “I’ve been offered a chance to teach on a ship for three months this summer.”
“Will you come with me?” If he won’t, and she’s sure he won’t, what will she do?
He cuts a glance to the building, lowers his head and shakes it. “How can I?”
When Alecia was married it wouldn’t have occurred to her to give herself permission to accept such an offer while her husband stayed home. How could she be having such fun without him? In fact, she most likely would not have applied for the job. Or, if she had, and the acceptance came and she knew he couldn’t join her, she would have torn up the letter and tossed it in a garbage can without showing it to her unsuspecting husband. The past pattern threatens to strangle her. She clamps her lower lip under a tooth.
“Yes, well…” It is so much easier not to be in any type of relationship.
“You’ll go, of course. Why wouldn’t you?”
The restored brass handle sparkles.