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"Our lives are a book that has already been written. The brilliance of the plan is that we are only given a chapter at a time..." ~A. Drayton Boylston

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Chapter 22 Excerpt, In a Perfect World

The second we drove up to the house... my heart started beating a mile a minute. A red Mazda was parked in front. I knew it was his.... but hoped he didn't bring company. I couldn't handle another girlfriend meeting. But when we walked in, he was there all by himself. I quietly thanked the Goddess for that.

Whenever I see him, I always tell myself I will act like I don't care.... but looking at him makes me magically smile, and I can't get the smile off my face once its there. And god forbid he should smile at me....you might as well stick a fork in me... I'm done. And he did, and I was done.

He stood in the doorway to the sitting room... the tiny room very few people go in, because it was Nancy's personal space. Black and white photos of her husband who died when her Grandchildren were young... a folded flag on display, pictures of the family, etc.. and her little Christmas tree with presents around it.

I walked over to him and he put his arms around my waist, and leaned in to kiss me. It had been two months since the infamous Halloween night. But it was as if no time had passed.

"The mistletoe is in the kitchen doorway", I said smiling.

"I don't need no goddamn mistletoe", he said. And kissed me gently on the lips. Now I was not only done, but melting into a puddle.

It definitely shocked me that he was there....it has been a long time since I had seen him on Christmas. He doesn't believe in Christmas... or any other holiday. But I got the sense from him that he just wanted to be with his family. He even hung around longer than I had expected.

He has a reputation for disappearing into thin air... so every time I walked out of a room he was in, I told him not to go away.

Since the strangest things amuse me, I watched him in awe as he completely attacked the bread bowl that had spinach dip in it. He was always incredibly neat so it has always amused me to watch him attack something neatly. And then the bizarre habit I always watched him carry out in adoration .... he took his plate back to the kitchen, washed it carefully and well by hand, dried it... and neatly put it back into the cabinet with the rest of the dishes. It never mattered that there was a dishwasher right below where he is washing.

I was trying not to cry every time he did something familiar and so quintessentially him. After all this time and so much of that time without him... I knew without a doubt that I still loved him so very much.  I had spent lifetimes with him, and still always feel like I'm falling in love with him for the first time.

At one point, after everyone had eaten dinner and were sitting in the living room drinking coffee and tea, I thought he had left because I didn't see him anywhere. I found him in the sitting room, sitting perfectly straight on the sofa with his hands folded, looking at the Christmas tree.

"Mind some company?" I asked.

"Not at all", he said, and patted the area beside him.

"What are you thinking about here all by yourself?" I asked.

After about a minute he answered. "I was just thinking about all the presents that would have been under this tree", he said.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

He looked at me. "You would have been eight months pregnant now, right?" he asked.

"Oh...yep, that sounds about right."

"So...there would be a lot of baby gifts under that tree", he said. There hasn't been a baby in this family for a long time. And I think my mother had just about given up on that dream."

"I had too. But I'm sure the other kids will make her a proud Grandma someday" I said, smiling.

"I don't think it will mean as much to her though", he said. "Or to me."

"You're young", I said. "You have plenty of time to have children."

He reached out his hand, and held mine. "The only woman I ever wanted to have children with was you. Never in a million years did I ever think I would even say that to someone."

He turned his head to face me, with tears in his eyes. And I was speechless. I had so much to say, but the words just wouldn't come.  I always scolded myself for never being able to say what I felt to him.  And it was always to my detriment....there were so many lost moments and missed opportunities in our relationship.

"I've had something to give you for a long time", he said. "And like a true redneck, I purchased it at Savers, but I'm still proud of myself" he said confidently and grinning widely.

"Well, you do work there", I said.

"Are you going to make this hard?", he asked laughing.

"Don't I always?" I asked.

"Maybe I should have said `difficult'", he said.

"Probably", I said.

He kissed me abruptly, probably because he knew it would shut me up, and it would get me back to where he could say what he wanted to say. He pulled away and looked at me.

"I love you", he said. "Despite everything, and because of everything."

"I love you too", I said, trying to keep the tears at bay for as long as possible.

He stood up, grabbed a small cushion from the sofa, and placed it on the hardwood floor. Then he knelt down in front of me on one knee.

Oh, how his knees could bend...

My heart was beating in my throat... what the hell was he doing?

He removed a small box from his pants pocket... a small black velvet box. He opened it and revealed a beautiful but modest looking ring with a tiny diamond. It was simple, but absolutely perfect. And it took a while for my brain to register what was actually happening.

"Angel", he said. "Will you..."

"Oh my God!" Susan yelled in the doorway and covered her face with her hands. The reaction was of utter shock... as if she had caught us having sex.

Those who were talking in the living room promptly silenced, and I heard feet scurrying over to where Susan was standing. He promptly closed the box and put it back in his pocket. He stood up and threw the cushion on the sofa.

"What happened, is everything ok?" Nancy yelled. Suddenly everyone's heads were poking into the sitting room.

"Everything's fine", Susan yelled. "Jesus Christ!"

"I thought you were having a heart attack!" Nancy yelled at Susan. "You scared the shit out of me! Don't scare the shit of me, I'm OLD!"

"You just swore", he said.

"I know that Goddamn it!" Nancy yelled.

Everyone laughed. Then the commotion was over, and everyone dispersed back into the living room. Except for Susan, who walked over to where we standing. He grabbed my hand and squeezed it tight.

She put both of her hands on his cheeks and shook her head.

Then she did the same thing to me and burst into tears. All I could do was put my arms around her and try to keep myself from doing the same thing.

Her nose was running, so I broke free from his grip and went into the living room to grab a box of tissues. We both blew our noses and hugged.

"What was your answer?" she asked me.

"He didn't ask me anything", I said. "He didn't get that far."

"Oh Jesus Christ, you're kidding me", she said. "Where is he? We'll make him do it again!"

Both of us walked back into the sitting room, and he wasn't there. Both Susan and I ran to the window. Our suspicions were confirmed.

He had left.

I forgot to tell him not to leave.

©Carrie-Ellen as Kat Matheson, 2009-2011, Picker Penguin Press

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