A gust blew from the north carrying a whiff of the lake on its breath. The larches on the other side of the channel rustled, forcing a murder of crows to abandon the branches. The echo of ghastly cawing ricocheted against a spire, bounced on the walls, and then vanished into thin air.
Katherine reached for her disheveled bangs and combed them back. With her other hand, she furtively searched for mine and found it. I pulled her closer and buried my face in her hair. She nestled her head against my chest and breathed our entangled scents. The wind gave up when we kissed on the sidewalk, and time looked the other way.
A whitewashed, narrow building stood at the end of the street, near the footbridge. We walked to the lone storefront and peered inside. Except for the burning lights, the place looked deserted. I turned the knob and gave the door a nudge. As it opened inward, the chimes on top shushed the whining hinges, muting their groans. Racks and tables stacked with retro clothes extended all the way to the deep end. Metal hangers carried pipes and ducts across the high ceiling. Faint Spanish guitar music played in the background. The boutique was intact, exactly the way we had left it one year ago.
“Hiiiiii!” A velvety voice came out of nowhere. “I’ll be with you in a minute.”
A slight woman, wearing a long skirt and gypsy hair, emerged from a backroom. “Hellooo!” She sang when she saw us.
We dawdled around the boutique, Katherine picking a shirt from a rack, returning a blouse to a table, I following in the wake of her grace.
“Keep the door open,” I joked, when she went into the fitting room. “I want to see you.”
“You never get enough, do you?” She laughed.
“How could I ever?”
The woman joined us, “You’ve been here before.” She said matter-of-factly.
“Yes, we have.” Katherine answered. “We love your boutique and are always happy to see it still open for business.”
“Thank you! It’s customers like you who make it worth the effort.”
I drank Katherine with my eyes as the woman fussed around her, fixing imaginary imperfections.
“She’s beautiful, isn’t she?” I asked.
“She’s gorgeous! And, more so because I see her through your eyes.” The woman said.
“Oh, you do?”
“I love the way you look at her.” She smiled. “How long have you two been together?”
“Seven years.” Katherine replied.
“Oh my! You look as if you’re still on your honeymoon.”
At the counter, I picked a silk scarf and wrapped it around Katherine’s neck. It matched the color of her eyes. The woman handed me the bag of shopping and bid us good-bye.
A steady wind toyed with us when we stepped out of the boutique. It blew across the channel with a desperate sense of urgency pushing us to move on. We hugged each other, dragging our steps and dallying with time, heedless of the approaching rain.