She loved to watch him work. That first summer after they met, she loved to sit on the porch and watch him work on his mother's house--painting the old wooden siding, repairing the porch, cleaning the gutters. He'd start in the morning with a t-shirt on, some days even a flannel, but by noon he'd be stripped down to his white tank undershirt. His bare arms brown from the sun, shining with sweat, he'd reach up to hammer a nail into a windowsill, and she could see the muscles bunch and shift under his skin.
She liked a lot of things about him. His hair, which grew out over the summer from brutally short to a little shaggy, curls at the back of his neck. His smile--rare, but a strange combination of shy and bold that made her blush without really knowing why. The way he looked her in the eye and listened while she talked about her college plans. His arms, though, were her favorites, gifts to be unwrapped by each warm day.
Rocking in the old metal glider, Mary would lean her head back against the house and watch him work. When he wrapped his arms around a ladder and climbed, she imaged that strength wrapped around her, holding her tight. When he carried in bags of groceries from his mother's car, she saw him carrying their children, the babies she knew he would give her one day. He'd have one tucked into each arm, pressed close to his chest. Nights when he sat next to her on the glider, she knew they'd have a big, airy bedroom where every night she would peel off his layers and trace the muscles and veins of his arms with her fingertips.
Arms like his could hold her forever.