A Scene #3

They lay on their backs in the coolness of the grass and stared up and up at the canopy of oaks that stretched over them, stately and unmoving; nothing stirred in the heat.

It had been a long day, spent walking and looking and (eventually) talking—a conversation that had unfolded like crumpled paper, tight and stiff at first but later spread in many directions from the place where it had started, until they finally forgot there had been a time they’d never known one another. A time only hours before, in fact.

But by afternoon the edges of that paper had been reached; their talk came to the margins and slowed, and they lay now in the park, no longer speaking at all, only enjoying the shade. The undersides of the oak leaves flashed grey-green in the sun that touched the treetops. Everything around them smelled of earth and growth; the park was well tended, galvanized against the season.

He waited until he thought she might have fallen asleep before turning to look at her, but her eyes were still open. He liked her, he decided, and she either felt his eyes or heard his thought because she looked at him, too.

“I think I’m falling in love with you,” he said, only half joking.

She smiled, but it was wan and didn’t touch her eyes. “I’m technically still married.”

He rolled onto his side and searched her expression as well as her words, trying to find the loophole. Her eyes were not cold; she was not running away. She was wary, perhaps, and giving him fair warning.

“Technically . . .” he said, sure this was the key word. “But your heart?”

She shrugged and went back to studying the arc of branches above them. “We’re friends. Still live in the same house. But we haven’t shared a bed in almost two years.”

He reached over, pulled her to him, and she did not resist. “Would you share mine?”

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