That fall, Sam and Sandy had a third date and a fourth. They talked without stopping, drove around town, ate sushi and pad thai and barbequed ribs. At the end of each date, Sam walked Sandy to her door and kissed her on the lips, and she went up to bed and lay there, her brain swimming in velvet endorphins.
For their fifth date, they met at the park, where a group had gathered to rake and plant flowers for spring. They dropped to their knees and dug side by side with their trowels. Sam talked about his fondness for Thoreau, his volunteer work bringing meals to the elderly. When he paused, he wiped his brow and looked at Sandy with dark eyes that mirrored the loving warmth of the sun.
“It’ll be so nice to come back and see these in April,” he said.
Sandy felt her heartbeat speed up. They would come back here together in April.
Over the next few days, the weather turned cold. The first snow came and put a hush over everything. The town looked charmed and serene, like the town at the base of a snow globe.
Sandy had no doubt that Sam was superior to anyone she had dated these last few years. He was slightly older, and although the age difference was small, it seemed that he was more firmly planted in the world. When she imagined seeing life through Sam’s eyes, it seemed more vibrant and malleable. At school, her students struck her as just a bit brighter and not quite as insolent. She put new energy into grading their papers, and found new evidence of depth in their thinking. And there was even more, perhaps, she could do. She decided that, when she saw him next, she’d announce her intention to apply for a job at a suffering public school.
Still, as good as she felt now, the days and hours dragged on. It was only Thursday. The weekend was far away.
While eating her dinner of canned lentils and rice, Sandy read the town’s weekly paper. She turned to the police blotter, guiltily, to check for misdeeds by her students. There were no juvenile transgressions this week, only adult offenses: a domestic quarrel, a drunk driver, and—something new—an indecent exposure. She read the report of the woman who’d encountered a flasher on Allendale Road. Perhaps the man had simply been caught at an awkward moment, she thought, stopping to relieve himself during a nighttime run. She made a note to start exercising more, took her unfinished lentils and rice to the kitchen, and spooned them into a Tupperware container.
The next day she surprised her friend Alva with a massage at a spa, although it seemed an inadequate way to say thank you. Alva had known Sam in law school, and they’d kept in casual touch over the years. He seemed like a good catch, Alva had said, someone she’d date if she were single.
“I’m so glad you thought of me,” said Sandy.
“Of course,” Alva smiled, “You’re a great catch, yourself.”
“He’s taking me to dinner at Le Château next weekend,” Sandy told her, feeling the red come into her cheeks.
“He’s romantic too?” Alva laughed, “Where does it end?”