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autumn leaves tumble (like cascades of nostalgia)

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Angie’s favorite thing about living in Howard Stark’s townhouse is that Peggy now walks her home at the end of her shift.

She stays as Angie locks the doors, wipes the tables, puts the chairs up. She opens the back door for Angie, stepping out into the alley’s crisp autumn air. Angie hurriedly locks the door behind them, wrapping her scarf over her mouth to mask the scent of garbage.

Angie takes Peggy’s arm, and they stroll out of the alley, their heels crunching on the leaves dusting the cobblestones. Angie knowingly asks about Peggy’s day at the ’phone company’; Peggy elegantly sidesteps, describing her colleagues’ antics in broad strokes.

They walk past a laundromat, dim light filtering through its dusty windows and faintly illuminating the sidewalk. Angie rubs a thumb over the nubbly wool of Peggy’s coat as she leans into her to avoid a man trudging unfailingly toward them.

As she swerves, one of Peggy’s curls, loosened from a day of rigorous telephone connecting and disconnecting, blows into her face. The heady whiff of amber and jasmine still lingering on Peggy’s hair emboldens her, and once they’re clear of the man she tugs Peggy to the side, clasping their hands together surreptitiously.

“Let’s go home,” she says, staring at Peggy’s lips, her ruby lipstick faded ever so slightly in the corners.

Peggy’s lips twitch. “And where did you think we were going?” she asks, amused.

“Yeah, but let’s step on it, English,” Angie agrees. “I suddenly have a pressing matter to attend to,” she says and winks.

Peggy smirks. “Oh?” She tilts her head slightly, playing coy, taking advantage of their joined hands to caress Angie’s palm with her callused fingertips.

Angie shivers, closing her eyes briefly. When she opens them, she’s struck by the image of Peggy, haloed by a streetlight. She inhales sharply and forgets to exhale for a moment. Then she shakes her head as if to clear it and drops Peggy’s hand.

“Home,” she says firmly, starting back toward their destination.

She fancies she almost sees the welcoming glow of their bedside lamps.