He holds out his arm to me, hand outstretched, palm up, a playful invitation. I clasp my own into his and spin an arc toward him, thinking, He wants to dance with me! So rare! So great! Pressed against him now, his eyes peer up—just a few centimeters—into my own. He says, “Come sit with me,” and begins to lead me the few feet toward the nook of the window.
The window seat is wide enough for us to sit cross-legged facing one another, and long enough for all three portrait windows to frame the vista of the Pacific beyond. The sky is a mottled storm grey, clouds low and pale against a wash of deeper steel. The field between this window and that horizon is stuttered with beach and reed-grass, stunted cypress listing back from years’ of ocean gusts.
We only sit, two humans on a bench, but my adrenaline is coursing a heady pulse. I place my hands on his criss-crossed knees as he presses his own to my cheeks. I lean into his hold, breath coming shallow. He’s quiet, intense in his gaze, and the air around has come to an electrified halt.
“You challenge me—”
I exhale a laugh through my nose and smile a tight, try-not-to-bust-out grin.
“—in a good way,” he continues. “You challenge me in a good way. You’ve taught me that life is a journey, and I want to experience that journey with you.”
He speaks several more sentences—leaning in, cupping my face, a gentle and holy gesture—but they are already lost in the swell of the whole. They’re earnest, and loving, and grand. My eyes pool hot don’t-lose-it tears, a tight grin holding it all back. The sound of his voice is sonorous and material between us—heavy, as if their meaning has the weight that authors strive to invoke.
Releasing my cheeks, his own eyes bright of withheld tears, he twists and reaches behind, searching under the nestle of pillows there. From which he retrieves a box. A small, ecru cube with silver lettering scripted across its top. He unfurls his legs and scooches off the bench-seat to kneel on one knee. I unfurl my own and dangle them over the edge, vibrant and pulsing with anticipation, amazement, and delighted little-girl giggles.
“Molly,” he begins, flipping open the lid of the box. Beads of perspiration have sprouted on his temples, a flop-sweat, sudden and scorching and radiant.
“Will you be my wife?”
I push the syllable out of my mouth, and it rides on the crest of all we together have weathered. It sails on the heights of our laughter and camaraderie, that goofy spirit pulled forth by one another. It careens in the nadir of our sorrow and frustration caused to one another. One puff of air suspended between his query and my reply, pregnant with thirty months of torrent and swell and grace and awe. Sourced from heart and faith and resilience and curiosity, I breathe into the stillness between us: