Tuesday, September 6, 2011

their lucky number was 28.

He figured that, after this many years together, he'd be able to determine the catalyst for her oscillations between dark brown hair and bright blonde. But just shy on two decades in and he still had no idea. He'd given up trying to decipher about halfway through the second decade, the fifteen year mark standing lighthouse-strong among the downpours and hurricanes and rainbows and puppydogs that had been their time. They'd seen flowers bloom and ivy spread while the hail fell and walls came tumbling, but here they were, in their marital bed, holding each other after a particularly spirited birthday romp.

They'd wed on her 28th birthday, in accordance with the if-we're-still-single wager they'd entered into with fate and each other, and today, at precisely 12:10 AM that morning--they'd still been awake to light the cake--marked her 48th. He'd met that mark himself about half a year prior and had warned her of its general ineffectiveness, but they had celebrated merrily all the same.

And even to this day, when they'd find themselves tucked into bed, he'd run slender fingers through thick tangles of her hair as she fell asleep. He liked the blonde--she didn't believe him when he said so, but he did because it was hers--although, when pressed, he'd admit that he preferred the brown. While the blonde caught the light and shone it like a mirror, the brown stayed silent in the dark like blackout curtains, existing in the dark not to his sight, but only to his fingertips, soft and full against calluses and worn pads.

He supposed that maybe the blonde was what she thought she was, while the brown was what she hoped she could be. Although he figured this myopic, and his favorite time was the week or two, once a year, when she'd let the roots peek from her scalp and serve as a reminder to what she truly, truly was, underneath her persona and artifice and everything else he thanked the Good Lord every night to be able to see clean through like freshly polished glass.

She stirred and opened her eyes, and they leapt to his. "Are you still awake?"


She sighed and rested a sleepy hand against his chest. "Go to sleep."

"I always do," he said, bending down to kiss her head. "Hey, do you remember when you got married?"

"To you?"

"No," he said, "before."

"Well, uh, yeah...?" She looked more awake than she had been.

"Do you remember after the rehearsal dinner? When I was in that shitty hotel and you called me and I was completely wasted from the free drinks at the Benihana?"

She laughed and nodded.

"Do you remember what you asked me?" he said.

"I asked you if you thought I was doing the right thing." She dragged tickling fingers against his stomach and he flexed involuntarily underneath the small gut he'd developed after the years and years of beer and contentment.

"Do you remember what I said?" he asked.

She paused and ran through her mental rolodex of past conversation. She remembered, vaguely, that he'd said something 1/3 intoxicated, 2/3 profound, but memory didn't serve. The files were combed and combed in her brain and came up short. "What did you say?"

He sighed and took a deep compensatory breath. "I don't remember. I was hoping you would." He kissed her forehead again and brushed a rogue strand of hair from her eyes to behind her ear. "I wonder if I should care at all about the past when we're here right now."

She stayed silent. He lifted her chin up like a periscope before giving her lips a goodnight kiss and shuffling his back down against a stack of too-firm pillows and closing his eyes. "If all of this is what it took," he said, "then that's just fine." She smiled and re-closed her eyes.

"Goodnight, love," she said. "You mean the world to me." She kissed his collarbone and fell immediately to sleep.

He whispered "happy birthday" and held fast, knowing that he could track, to the day and by the Gregorian calender, the day that he'd found peace.

They slept soundly and both called in sick the next morning. Celebrations were, of course, something to celebrate.


Kelly Turkevich said...

:) enjoyed

Shums said...

meant to tell you, I liked this one a whole bunch.

Joanna Brimhall said...

This makes me feel warm and happy inside. Very nice :-)

Birdy said...

Very lovely. Made me smile lots! :)