December 14th, 1999, in Ms. Campbell's 1st-grade class, I had stood up in front of the class and declared that I would one day marry Emma Bailey. "Just you wait! You'll see!" Twenty years had passed, and still, she was perfect. Today was the day I would keep that promise. I hope.
Emma turned to me, "Why did we come here again, Jake?"
I feel my palms turn sweaty, I feel the ring sitting in my back pocket, I anxiously check if it is still there. It is confirmed that I am still in possession of the ring.
I stutter in my nervousness, "I, um. I think it would be cool if we could come back to where we first met."
She laughed. That lovely laugh. "In first grade. On the playground. Jake, we've been dating for eight years and we've been all over. Why here, why now?" I feel myself blush. I say nothing but I try to change the subject real quick before she can get suspicious. I saw a large hill blank with snow. "Remember that hill?" Emma laughed. "The Bloody Summit, or the No No Hill, I can't remember?" I smile. "Yeah, remember when you and I rode down that hill. It looked so big compared to now. Were we that tiny?" Emma teased. "You cried, you screamed." She tried to impersonate my falsetto seven-year-old voice. "Help! I want to get off! We're going to die! AHHHHH! You were so dramatic, darling." I blush remembering how I had cried and cried like a baby. "Yeah, so you wanna go down?" Emma nods in agreement still smirking at my shameful display.
I gesture to the old rickety red sled and she gets in. I drag the sled up the uneven surface. I look around so many memories in just one place. How could this be? I feel all my emotions come from those simpler times. My heart ached for those plainer times. Still, I would not change a thing.
We reach the top, I wrap my arms around her waist and we slid all the way down. The wind rips at my face, icy air tore at my lungs. Suddenly, the sled careened and we flipped through the air. I roll down the hill, the snow crunching under me. I feel all the rocks and chunks below me. I see Emma flying above me and land a few feet away. I scramble toward her slipping on the wetness of the hill. She lies there in the snow shaking. "EMMA!" I scream.
As I get closer, I hear her laughing HYSTERICALLY. Her entire body heaved with each laugh. I flop next to her. Her eyes as streaked with tears from chuckling, she gasps for breath. I shake her. "Don't do that," I whined. She rolled over, "We really stuck the landing!" She squealed.
I abruptly realize something is terribly wrong. My pockets are light. Our unexpected crash landing had flung the ring out of my pocket. I start scrambling around frantically patting the snow looking desperately. I curse myself thousand times over for getting a white velvet box. I start having my mini panic attacks. Emma immediately notices. My shortness of breath, my dizziness, my feelings of doom and anxiety. She tries to calm me. "Chris, what happened? Breathe, count your breaths." I try too. I really do. I try to take control of my racing heart. I can't though. I can't tell her what is really go on, well because that would ruin everything.
Emma sees that I am still incredibly stressed. She takes a hold of my hand and forces me to look into her eyes. "Chris." She says slowly. "Tell me."
A million things ran through my head. Lie, run, just don't say any-. I stop mid-thought and find the box and I snatch it up before it can escape my clutches again. My frozen fingers wrapped around the box. I must have looked soooo romantic. My snot frozen to my face, covered in snow, my teeth chattering, my body shivering, panting from adrenaline.
"Emma Bailey, from the first time I laid eyes on you twenty years ago on this day, I knew you were the one for me. You are and will always be my everything. II loved you forever and always. Will you complete me and marry me?" Emma sobbed. Through her tears, her eyes smiled. "YES!" She screamed. I scooted over to her and slid the ring on her finger. She cried harder.
The ring was her dream ring. She had described it to me in high school, nonchalantly as we were eating lunch on a hot July afternoon. "I would want my ring to be simple, a fine small diamond. Just like my mom's." I had borrowed that ring and added an Emma twist to it.
Together we lay down crying happy tears, Emma started moving her limbs outward in constant motion. I did the same. With salty frozen tears on our cheeks, we made snow angels. She turned over and grabbed my hand. I looked into her deep deep brown eyes. I got lost in them. I saw my life, no OUR life flash before my eyes. I saw our wedding. Our kids. Our kids growing up. Our love grows stronger as our children grow. I see us in our ripe old age, more in love than ever before. I whisper to her, "Be mine forever and always." Emma kissed me, "And till death do us part." I grin. "No, never. I will never leave you." One last tear slipped down her face. She barely murmured, "Nor I." Her auburn hair flaked with snow, her brown eyes filled with love and joy, her pale face pink from the cold. She was perfect. Just as she had always been. Dear Lord, I pray that there are many more years of happiness to come. I pray for us to stay together forever, that we will ride this life out together, and be together there forever after.