Kathy walked her dog, a standard poodle named Petunia. In dog years and human years respectively they were the same age, give or take a year: sixty-three. As a passing notion, it occurred to Kathy that his thumb had traced her index finger in a most gentle way. Her feet climbed onto the community garden path. The smell of summer just come into the air, the diesel of the neighbor's lawn mower offered a faint putrid intoxication. The deep cut grass disappearing as the Native garden wafted into Kathy's nose: the medicinal herbs fragrant in the gracious charity of this early summer's night.

Between her thighs she could still feel the sex: the thrill of it, yet also the discomfort. It was almost a re-de-virgining, except with less natural lubrication. Her friend Esther had mentioned this experience when she started dating the widower from Cal-Tech.

The sound of water came to Kathy. She was searching for it, without understanding why. Petunia pulled the leash and yanked her toward the large rose bush. Across the street a brewing pot of coffee held its aroma in the air.

"Petunia, stop it."

Petunia's nose pointing up to the sky, enraptured. The lover's breath hot and pungent at the side of Kathy's cheek bone. She had seen the liver spots upon her own hand. Kathy turned away and walked up the terrace. The sound of the water came closer. The up-close smell of the camellia blooms kissed her skin. Kathy's naked breasts pushed up against his back, itching to enter his body via shared vertebra.

Trying to find the water.

At her feet, a lonely rock, more of a pebble, Kathy's lips froze in revelation. He had held her hand. After all that huffing and puffing, after all that ridiculousness of his cock inside her body, her long dismissed private chamber, after all that: he had held her hand. And Kathy cried.