At half past twelve, he got up from the table, leaving his book open next to his nearly finished cup of coffee. He pulled on a sweater over his shirt before stepping outside. The air was crisp as he walked to the tool shed. It smelled like fallen leaves and rain. Grass stuck to his shoes as he walked back to the lawn, but he didn’t mind.
He got to work, running the rake through the grass. The leaves rustled with a wet sort of sound added to it as they tumbled underneath the rake. He started at one end of the lawn, working in rows as he continued raking. While he worked, his thoughts wandered. Did she ever wonder who did this for her? Did she appreciate it? He had never had the courage to walk up to her door and ask. The very thought made his palms sweat and his heart race. No, he was much happier doing chores here and there for her.
When the kid down the street had accidentally run into her mailbox, he had fixed it, replacing the dented door. Sometime later, he had noticed her sprinklers weren’t working properly. One trip to the hardware store and he had fixed them. For a while after that, there hadn’t been anything to fix and he wondered if she would forget about him. He was glad when autumn rolled around. The moment he looked outside his window and saw the multi-colored mess the leaves had made on her lawn, he smiled. There was something he could do for her.
And so he had for the past few weeks. She would leave for work and he would rake her leaves while she was gone. So far, she hadn’t said anything, which made him wonder if she even noticed. That small bit of doubt did little to dampen his hope, however.
He thought all this as he continued raking. It was an almost soothing action, the rhythm allowing his mind to drift as the leaves formed a barrier between his yard and hers. The grass grew clearer as the leaves disappeared from its surface. From a window, someone watched him, an inquisitive look on her face.
Her job had kept her inside today. There was no need for her to go the office, considering it was a weekend, so she worked on her computer. Every so often, she took a break. It was one of these breaks that led her to the window, where she watched as he worked. Her curiosity got the best of her and she slipped outside. He didn’t seem to notice, too engrossed in raking. She cleared her throat.
“Do you always do this?”
He stopped and looked up, surprise on his face. “I thought you were at work,” he stuttered in a way that reminded her of the boy who had lived next door to her when she was a child.
She shook her head. “It’s the weekend. I work at home on the weekends.” She wasn’t sure why she felt the need to tell him that, but it had slipped out of her mouth before she could take it back. Oh well, she supposed it wouldn’t do any harm if he knew.
“Oh.” He stood there, frozen to the spot and glancing around. “I was raking your yard for you. My yard needed raking too, and I thought why not?” he explained himself.
She smiled softly at him. “Thank you.” She took a cautious step off her porch and made her way across the green expanse of her lawn. She stopped just short of the leaf barrier. “Would you like some coffee?” she asked.
He nodded, forgetting that he had left some cooling on the table. She looked beautiful in her black dress. It looked effortless.
She noticed how his sweater crushed the collar of his button up shirt. Most people looked frumpy in sweaters, but he didn’t. It made him look like a college professor, she thought. Without knowing what she was doing, she held out her hand. It hovered over the leaf barrier.
He took it.