Golden flecks adorn the honey brown of my iris. Only my eyes pierce through it all. I stare into the mirror, at the bright pink concealing my natural, plump lips, at the tight dress, revealing too many curves than I’m comfortable with, at the heavily caked-on makeup, obscuring my soft, blemished skin holding all the memorable scars of my past. I gaze at my now-unrecognizable hair, curled and sprayed into a trending fashion. I wouldn’t realize it was me staring back if it weren’t for the eyes. My eyes pierce through the whole facade, begging me to reveal myself. My true self. My amygdalae warns me against it, telling me to protect myself, to keep a barrier up, to not allow myself to be vulnerable. My heart is the battlefield, serving as a bystander as the two emotions fight for victory.
As the fight perpetuates, an image of him ambles into my mind. I can’t help it, a small smile finds its way onto my face despite the dichotomy between my emotions at hand. The little curl of dark brown hair at the nape of his neck. His dark, dark eyes, holding murky waters full of mysteries and secrets that make me want to wade through and discover them all.
I decide it’s worth it—I know I felt something when I first looked into those eyes. I would hate to deceive him if it’s worth it. I force the doubtful voice in my mind to pipe down and fall asleep for the time being as I let the tap water drip the mascara down my face, making me look like a heartbroken teen at a party.
I grunt in frustration at my third failed attempt at doing a tie. My gelled-back hair is starting to unclump, a few strands of stray hair falling onto my face, ruining the whole slicked look. I push the hairs back up and get to working on the tie again. I feel the little curl on the nape of my neck fall out of place for about the hundredth time. I push it up a bit too forcefully, wondering why everything seems to be falling to pieces today. Possibly because my mind is in shambles and I can’t seem to think straight.
I stop working at the tie and take a look in the mirror. This isn’t how she’s seen me before. This isn’t what she saw in me. I know she doesn’t care about the fancy watches and polished shoes and gaudy cufflinks. The outfit seems superfluous now that I think about her. But what if she comes dressed up and I look like I put no effort in?
I feel it deep down, I know that she’s not like that, she will come how I first saw her, hair flying in the wind, nose rubbed raw from the icy wind.
Before I realize what I’m doing, the suit is off, the watch lay forgotten on my bed, my pristine shirt crumpled on the floor. I rush to my closet and grab the same hoodie and dark jeans I was wearing when I met her. I pull them on and manage to get the majority of the gel out of my hair. I let the curl that bore the weight of her gaze for a second too long rest on the nape of my neck.
I’ve decided to grab the same flowery dress and sneakers I was wearing the day we met. The dress has reminded me of that day ever since and I wouldn’t want to wear it for any other occasion; today is the perfect day to wear it.
I check my phone and see a text from him saying he’ll be here in twenty. A shiver runs down my spine as I change. My nerves act up, making my mind conjure up a million different possibilities, all of which make me smile.
I use the rest of the time to rub the rest of my makeup off vigorously, liking the bareness of my skin and the comfort of my loose dress. I check myself in the mirror one last time and then sit on my bed, breathing deeply. I close my eyes and recite the familiar affirmations to myself, clinging to the steadiness of my breath. In and out. In and—
My heartbeat drums in my chest, threatening to pound itself right out. I force myself to stay seated and calm my nerves. I don’t want to look like I’ve just ran a mile. The flushed red in my cheeks add a little color to my face and I touch them reassuringly, then proceed downstairs.
I feel like a princess descending those wooden steps—no, transparent steps made out of ice and magic. As I reach the midpoint, I see him and my breath hitches in my dry throat. My prince. I almost laugh endearingly at what he’s wearing. I love how similar our minds think.
My dad is standing by the door, chuckling lightly to himself. “Home by ten,” he says, more jokingly than stern.
I merely nod, nerves barring me from doing anything more. Those dark, dark eyes penetrate through mine, birthing little butterflies in my stomach and chest.
I had managed to conceal my surprise at her house for her choice of attire. I love it. There’s this constant smile etched into my very mouth and I have to work hard to keep it at bay so as to not appear mad. I open the passenger door and let her in. I hand her something and hurry back to my side. I tell her to put it on. A blindfold. Her laugh is music to my ears, melodic and soft, leaving me wanting to hear more and more.
When we reach, I hold her arm and lead her to the spot I had so meticulously chosen for today. “Ready?” I ask her in a low voice, my arms resting on her waist.
“As can be,” she replies, a smile stretching across her face.
I untie the blindfold, taking my sweet time, enjoying the sheer slowness of the moment.
When he removes the blindfold, I’m not sure what I had expected to see—but it wasn’t this. I look around for what feels like a full minute, unaware of his gaze following me as I walk small circles around the park. I feel tears come to my eyes at his thoughtfulness.
The park where my mother remarried. One of the happiest days of my life and where everything had turned for the better. I had told him about it on that cold, cold day and he hadn’t said anything, just looked at me with those dark, dark eyes.
I rush back to him and let the tears come, wanting him to see my appreciation rather than convey it in words. He holds my gaze, awakening those butterflies once more and sending them into a frenzy.
When he turns to put down a blanket, that small curl is framed against the red, red sunset and I shiver, knowing this moment will never leave me.