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Ask Me Again

He asks when we’re alone. Standing side by side on a balcony as we watch the sun set. We stand there in a comfortable silence, in the chilly mountain air, and then, he speaks.

“Let me marry you.” He says. That wonderful baritone voice barely above a whisper.

My lungs freeze, my heart skips a beat. I turn my head slowly and meet those eyes. Those deep blue oceans that had long ago drawn me in. Those dark waters I had surrendered too — had tried to drown myself in hundreds of times. My breath catches, differently than usual.

I see love. I see hope. I see the acceptance of an expected rejection.

Even after all we’d been through. After thousands of declarations of “I love you”, tender kisses and touches. After two near death experiences — he still expects me to run. He expects me to leave him, reject him. Like I would have stayed if I wasn’t in it for the long haul. Like every smile, every kiss, every sweet word was a joke waiting for a punchline.

Let me marry you. He said. Let me. He asks me to marry him as if marrying me is a privilege. Not that I’m all that surprised. He treats my affection as if it is a precious treasure he needs to earn, when it is, and has always been a gift I give freely.

I blink, and he turns, shoulders hunched. He drops to one knee, coat billowing behind him. In one swift movement, before I can even gasp, he holds out a ring, cradled in the palm of his gloved hand. He takes a shaky breath, and reaches out to gently curl his opposite hand around one of mine. And I can’t help but wonder if there will ever be a day where he will hold me like a person, and not a fragile work of glass.

He keeps eye contact with me as the seconds tick by. He doesn’t blink. His hands don’t tremble. I can’t breathe. My pulse roars in my head as the light fades to the cool colors of the night. I look into those eyes and I think; when did I become enough for this? When did I become enough for this man?

Yes. I want to scream. I love you. Yes! But I am unable to make the words come up from under this swell of emotion, my throat is too dry, my tongue too heavy. Like the nervous fool I am, I wait just a moment too long.

He nods, gaze closing off. He lets go of my hand, but before he can go farther, I clasp both of my hands around his. I gasp, eyes burning, and drop to my knees. Those eyes I love so much brighten in concern as he moves to reach for me. Always concerned about me. Always ready to be whatever I need, regardless of his own feelings.

“Ask me again.” I beg breathlessly. He stills. I watch through bleary eyes as he blinks and swallows. “I’m sorry I’m slow.” I gasp. “Ask me again.” I insist, squeezing the hand between mine. “Ask me to marry you.”

“Let me marry you?” He asks in breathy disbelief.

“Yes.” I say. And that is all he needs from me. He smiles, eyes damp, and laughs. I laugh too, and offer up my trembling hand. The moment he slips the ring on my finger — I feel whole. It’s just a simple metal band, but it slips onto my finger and sits there like it had been tailor made for me. Just for me.

He lays his hands on my shoulders and smile down at me. I smile, biting my lip to swallow the laughter that he is waiting for me to make the first move. As if accepting to marry him is such a little thing. I dig my fingers into the lapels of his jacket, and pull him into a kiss.

We kiss like the world is ending, and I suppose, one is. But, I think I don’t mind. I like this new one we’re making.

Let me. He said. Like he needed to do more than ask.

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