Just Say it Already
As we walked along the street for the dozenth time, holding tight to each other’s hand, dogging on comers, and avoiding the broken sidewalk, I gazed at her when she wasn’t looking. The sky was cobalt blue with a trace of white cloud too thin to interfere with its grandeur. I’d only looked at it twice since we’d started walking because she was the most beautiful of God’s creations I could see. She knew she could talk to me all day, and I’d listen without interruption. She also knew we’d been walking for well over an hour, and I hardly said more than “Yes,” “No,” “Oh really,” and “I didn’t know that.” The autumn sun was lowering behind us, and our shadows grew longer, and longer on the brick sidewalks. A chilly wind blew through us bringing rust-colored leaves with the sound of a thousand beads rolling across a wooden floor. I pulled my long wool coat tighter, and she slipped on her gloves and wrapped her arms around mine. I felt the emptiness in my right hand with the absence of her slender fingers holding tight, my mind held onto the memory until the cool wind carried her warmth away. It was sad when I put my lonely hand in my coat pocket. She held me by the arm but the touch of her hand meant so much.
This afternoon he and I finally found some time alone. I asked him for a walk and our plans were easily made. We walked along seeing the occasional car pass, speeding home this late October evening, undoubtedly anxious to get someplace warm. The smell of dried leaves, and wood-burning fireplaces, smells I’d had a thousand times in my life, was the memory of my childhood, and my home. He’s watching me, and I know it, and he smiles when he says those few words that show he’s listening. Cafes along our way invade our senses with deep rich smells of coffee, warm cider, and donuts. The gray water of the river ahead, rushing to places unknown, looks like the dark clouds we had yesterday full of rain. Across the street, a Great Dane walked a couple the other direction as they both clutched desperately to the leash. I wonder if we could get a dog someday? Mrs. Allison's daughter Sophia sat quietly selling small bouquets of fall-colored flowers to passers-by. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Sophia, as she sits there like a statue, listening for customers, she’s unable to see since birth, she's never known any different. She and the world take each other in stride never wanting more than the other can give.
She’s telling me the story of her small town. A small town with a big American spirit, where stores put out decorations to celebrate the changing of seasons, and passers-by will call to you with traditional greetings. Fall and winter bring out horses and buggies from livery stables, lead by carriage drivers in long black tails, and top hats. Belgian draft horses of Bay Roan, Blue Roan, Chestnut, and Cream, jingle as they pass with braided hair and bells to announce the changing of the seasons. Close your eyes and you might be transported to another time. Plunging down Mainstreet, traditional gas-lit street lamps begin to glow as the evening wears on, making sun shadows disappear, and warm golden lights reflect off the wet pavement. Another block to the center of town, with a gazebo on one corner and Christmas tree, not yet decorated, on the other. We stop and sit, under the gazebo roof covered with maple leaves, my arm around her shoulders as she’s leaning on my chest looking into my eyes. Brown hair jutting out from her knitted hat frames her face as green eyes lure me in for a kiss. Nothing could be greater than this moment.
His lips are so soft and warm, his blue eyes close as we kiss, warm fingers lifting my chin. Old Man Miller taps the horn of his ‘58 Chevy truck in greetings and congratulations as he passes by, earning a grin and a wave. If we met here, once a year, for the rest of our lives, a day like this would carry me through until we meet again. Soft strikes of church bells signal the seventh hour of this wonderful fall afternoon, while I lay my head on his chest, and hear the gentle thumping of his heart in rhythm with my own. In a voice calm and serene he calls my name. “Keri” I heard this as much as I felt the vibrato from his deep tone. “I have something to say.”
You can’t practice, you can’t imagine, nor can you prepare for a moment as perfect as tonight. Warm daytime with a rapid falling of temperature, and yesterday's rain, ushered in a fog to expand the glow of lights. Bright fireballs of gold and yellow lined the street like tin soldiers on display, covered by a canopy of autumn foliage hanging above each one. This was it, this was the time, there would never be a more heaven-sent moment in my life than right now. If I let her go I would be less of a man for the rest of my life. I raised her to her feet and knelt down on one knee. I stood up again, kissed her passionately, and knelt again trembling.
“I want to say four words to you, but I only need one word for an answer. The words I want to say have as much impact on us as the answer you give. Four words that don’t come easily, or without commitment, or consequence. Being with you has changed my life. I know I’d travel a thousand miles to spend a moment in your presents. You love me and I love you! I asked your father for permission, and we talked for a long time about the future. He said he would be very happy for us.”
OH, my, this is it. This is the moment, I’ve known since the day we met he would be the one. I stand here shaking, not from the cold, but excitement. My heart is about to beat out of my chest, I wish he would just say it already. I would say yes, thousand times yes, don’t make me wait any longer. Will, I cry tears of joy, kiss him over and over, laugh, and sing? This is the happiest day of my life!
“Will you marry me?”