Romance Happy Fiction

Present Day

“Tell me the story again.” Cassidy spun away from the console where she had been helping me arrange pictures. As we had worked, she had begged for the story that went along with each photo declaring each one her favorite. Her Mom being born, mine and Carol’s first date, the first photo of me holding Cassidy, vacations, and birthdays.

“What story?” I hedged but I knew which one. The one that went with the picture in the middle. Or more accurately the story that resulted in the center photo. Cassidy asked over and over again for me to tell her, her absolute favorite story one more time- calling it one of the most romantic things she had ever heard.

“Grandpa!” Cassidy planted her hands on her hips.

I pulled the peanut butter out of the cabinet and the grape jelly from the fridge. “Help me with the sandwiches,” I said. Cassidy grabbed a knife and a spoon from the silverware drawer while I grabbed the bread and platter.

Cassidy gave me an expectant look as she unscrewed the lid off of the peanut butter jar. “Well?” She asked.

I smiled, holding out just a little longer. I smeared peanut butter onto a slice of bread. Cassidy’s eyes narrowed at me and I grinned at her. “It was a hot summer day in nineteen seventy-six…”

Summer 1976

All I could think what that maybe I should have worn something nicer.

Today was going to be a special occasion- remembered for years to come! And I had chosen to wear my favorite pair of blue jeans and a t-shirt. On the other hand, if I had worn something nicer, like the button down my mother had suggested, I would have made Carol suspicious.

As it was, I was having a hard time acting cool and relaxed, as if nothing was out of the ordinary. Carol squeezed my hand and then gave me a smile which sent a zing through me. I loved her smile.

“Sooo,” Carol drawled, dipping her head so she could see over the edge of her sunglasses. “Where are we having our picnic?” She eyed the large basket in my free hand that contained not only our lunch but a portable radio and unbeknownst to her a tiny box with a ring in it.

Today was the day. I was going to ask Carol to be my wife.

“Just over there,” I nodded towards a grassy hill in a shady part of the park. The exact spot where we had had our first date nearly three years ago. Carol smiled and nodded as if my answer was exactly what she had expected. What I hoped she wasn’t expecting was a proposal. I wanted it to be a surprise. I wanted her to know that I had put thought into this and returning to the spot of the first of many dates was to bring us full circle.

“You okay?’ Carol asked, giving me a concerned look.

I smiled at her. “More than okay.” I was on top of the world. “You?”

“I’m good.” She swung our hands gently between us as we made our way to the shaded hill. I kept watching her out of the corner of my eye, trying to imagine her reaction to the proposal. I had run the scenario dozen of times and I had pictured everything from an enthusiastic yes to her bursting into tears and blubbering her answer.

My older brother suggested she would say no. Only for a moment had my brain contemplated it before completely rejecting it. Over the last three years we had become best friends, each other’s confidants. Any time something happened, she was the one I wanted to tell first. I knew without a doubt that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Carol.

Under the shade of the tree we spread the picnic blanket that Carol had been carrying and then I began to pull out our meal. It was simple. Some might call it too simple for a pre-proposal meal but it was exactly what we had eaten on our first date.

Carol accepted a plate with a diagonally cut peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich with chips on the side. From the thermos, I poured us both a glass of lemonade.

She smiled, taking the glass. “You know something?”

“I know many things,” I said as I extended the antenna on the portable radio.

“Well do you know that is what we ate on our first date?”

I smiled to myself as I fiddled with the dial. “Is it?”

“Yep.” She popped the ‘p’. “Which of course makes it my favorite.”

“Because it’s your favorite meal or because it’s what we had on our first date?”

“Both.” She said around a bit of sandwich.

I chuckled to myself. I settled in with my own plate as the radio belted out a Beatles song that had been popular the last couple of weeks. Carol and I sang with it in between bites. Music had brought us together in the first place. Friends had introduced us at a party and at first the conversation had been stilted and awkward but then someone had brought up music. The two of us had talked for the rest of the night and every night since.

Three years later, and I couldn’t imagine a single day without her.

“I hope you brought dessert.” Carol tapped her fingers together in anticipation as I slid our plates back into the basket. “You know I love dessert.”

I pretended to think about it. “You know something?”

“You forgot the dessert,” Carol guessed, a playful twinkle in her eyes.

“I have something better than dessert.” I reached into the basket for the box.

“What could be better than dessert?”

Keeping the box hidden, I shifted so I was kneeling next to her. Her brow furrowed and I gave a silent prayer of gratitude that she had no idea what was about to happen. Both of our families had managed to keep this a secret from her.

“Spending the rest of forever with me.” I pulled the box from behind my back. Her eyes went wide. I opened the box. Nestled inside was a simple gold band with a single diamond. Her eyes bounced between the ring and me. “Carol May Joyce, from the moment you entered my life, I knew that I would never be the same. Every day since we have met has been better than the previous simply because you have been there sharing it with me. I want to spend every day of the rest of forever being by your side, sharing the highs and lows of life. I love you.”

Tears were welling up in her eyes. My own eyes were getting a little misty. “Will you marry me?” I asked.

“Yes!” She threw her arms around me, nearly knocking me over. I wound an arm around her trying to steady us. “Of course I will.” She kissed my cheek. “I love you too and I want to spend the rest of forever with you.”

She straightened up and I pulled the ring out of the box and slid it onto her finger.

We grinned at each other. I thought I might explode with happiness. We hugged again and I didn’t want to let go.

“Better than dessert?” I asked

“A thousand times better than dessert.” Carol’s smile gave the sun competition in that moment as she admired her ring and then looked back at me as if I was the best thing to ever happen to her. “But you did bring dessert right?”

I laughed, already pulling out a bag. “Chocolate chip cookies. Your Mom gave me her recipe.”

“Oooh.” She grabbed the bag and pulled one out, biting into it. She hummed in pleasure. “You are definitely a keeper.”

Present Day

Cassidy sighed happily. “I’m glad Grandma kept you.”

“Me too,” I laughed.

The front door opened. “I’m back,” called my favorite voice in the world. Carol entered the kitchen, carrying bags of food and stopped dead. She looked around- at the table covered in a picnic blanket along with our best dishes. She smiled as she saw the stack of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on a serving platter and the pitcher of lemonade. She looked at the streamers hung over the console table telling our life in photos.

“What’s all this?” She asked, her eyes shimmering.

“Happy Proposal Anniversary Grandma!” Cassidy threw her arms out wide and spun around. “Do you like it?”

Carol sat her bags down and gathered Cassidy into a hug. “I love it.”

“Grandpa’s been telling me the story. It’s my favorite. And we made lunch.” She gestured to the table. “And I helped arrange all the photos.” Cassidy dragged her grandmother to the console. “Which is your favorite?”

“All of them,” she said, kneeling so she was on the same level with Cassidy. “But I do have a soft spot for this one. She pointed to the one in the center. The one of us standing next to a tiered-cake, ready to slice into it. “It was one of the best days of my life.” She traced the frame of our wedding photo.

“Mine too,” I said, kneeling next to my wife. How could it not be? It was the day I got to marry my best friend.

“Even better than getting proposed to?” Cassidy asked.

“Well there was cake.” Carol said.

Cassidy nodded as if this was a valid response.

“I certainly hoped you married me because you loved me and not because you just wanted wedding cake.” I grinned at her.

“It was really good cake.” She replied and then kissed me softly. I smiled back. “And speaking of dessert…” Carol lifted an eyebrow.

The oven timer went off. I returned the raised eyebrow. Perfect timing.

Carol laughed and put an arm around Cassidy as I retrieved the cookies from the oven. When I turned back towards them, they were still staring at the wedding photo. “Will you tell me the story Grandma? It’s my favorite.” Cassidy requested as I laughed.

“On a clear spring morning in nineteen seventy-seven…”

February 18, 2021 20:03

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.