Summer was the season to be in Seattle. It was late July and the middle of the afternoon. The 2 o'clock ferry left from the downtown port to Bainbridge Island. It had been her idea. She loved picnics. On the ride across the bay, he had sat quietly on the bench, humming to himself, as he always did. She would look at him, wishing she knew what he was thinking.
She loved him very much. Sometimes it made her feel ill. Her stomach would ache, her throat would tighten. They both knew how much she loved him. And they both knew he didn't love her. It had become enough for her just to be next to him, to listen to his humming and watch his cool blue eyes. Sometimes, though, she wanted to touch him and she would have to walk away, afraid he might get angry.
The ferry stopped. They got off and followed a trail that led to a creek in some woods. They found a shady spot near the water and she unpacked the food while he uncorked the wine. He was humming and tapping the Swiss army knife against a rock. She reached for the knife to slice an apple. He loved apples and cheese together. She had brought both. He stopped humming. They both turned in the direction of the footsteps behind them. An old man was walking toward them, crouched over like a question mark.
"Hello, there," he said, squinting and looking at their food. "Nice day for a picnic."
"Yes," the boy answered politely, "yes, it is."
"So you took your girlfriend on a picnic. She's a pretty one," the old man said, moving closer to the girl, who was staring at her feet. The word "girlfriend" made her face flush. There was a long pause.
"She's not my girlfriend," he said abruptly, looking up at the old man. Her throat felt as though a boa constrictor were wrapping itself around her thin neck. She dropped the knife.
"She's not?" the old man turned his head sideways, staring at them.
"Nope," the boy reached out, picking up the knife from the ground, from where the girl had dropped it. He started to slice an apple into half-moons. "Nope," he repeated, "she's my wife."
The old man stepped back, his mouth open. "Well, why didn't you say so? I wouldn't disturb no newlyweds." He turned and trudged off.
The boy began to hum.