***Here’s the BONUS! Soul xo***
Why I want to marry you
- I want you to be my wife.
- I want to be your husband.
- I love you.
- In addition to the perks of being married to you, my mother has told me many times that she’d love to be your mother-in-law; and I would love that, too, and have the ability to gift that to her.
- I’ll never forget the day you were there for me when my mother died.
- I want to declare to the entire world how much I love you.
- You’re beautiful, inside and out.
- You’re kind.
- You’re loyal.
- You accept my faults for what they are, and never punish me for them.
- Children? (You’d make a great mother).
- I see a future with only you.
- You’re always there for your friends.
- You’re ambitious.
- You don’t give up.
- You don’t give up on us.
- I love that you trust me with your body.
- I love that you trust me with your secrets.
- I love that I can trust you with anything.
- I love you.
- I love you.
- I love you.
- …to be continued.
I stared at each numbered point. Beside all of them was a date, which I could only surmise is the date each of these thoughts and emotions occurred accordingly throughout our relationship. The oldest point dated back to the first time we fell in love. Had he been thinking of marrying me for that long? In my hazy stupor, I panicked. My heart drummed in my chest and I scanned the room in a jittery after-effect of the alcohol. This couldn’t be real. There was something about the existence of this list that was taunting me. It spoke more than its numbered list; beyond the lines on the horizon was our eminent future. I couldn’t marry him now. And suddenly, I was questioning whether I could ever be ready to marry. I had thought I’d say ‘yes’ in a heartbeat but, it seemed I was wrong. What if I was never able to marry Daniel? Would he break up with me? It would seem so. So I ripped up the list.
I shredded it into tiny little pieces until they were too thick and hard to rip up all together. Then I threw them into the empty trash. In my mind, it being all ripped up in the trash can made it forgotten. Never happened. Poof, gone. I laid in bed for a moment, wondering if I’d be able to sleep comfortably but my eyes were wide awake. Water seeping out when I kept my eyes open for too long; a little red crawling through. What the hell did I do? Daniel’s going to notice straight away. That’s if he checks that list regularly. I mean, number 22 and 23 were only two weeks ago. I had to put it back together. I couldn’t let Daniel see that it was missing; that I knew.
I jumped out of bed and threw the envelope in its previous position up on top of the shelf. If it was at first glance basis, then he’d think all was fine and dandy. Then I dug through the rubbish, pieces of paper crumbling through my fingertips. Crap, crap, crap! I wound the whole bag into a knot and then sprinted out of the door. Walking the darkened streets of New York wasn’t going to help me. And this plastic bag was just wearing me out; it burned me at the fingertips. Or was that my shame?
A man passed me, going the opposite way, but then I heard him stop and his footsteps tap back up the sidewalk. What the hell was I going to do? I was slightly drunk, with Daniel’s little love list in a trash bag. I had no mace and I was all alone, freaking out. GENIUS! I hurried faster, and the man’s footsteps picked up with me. I knew then he was really following after me.
“Hey,” the man said, “hey wait!”
I shrieked and bolted. “I have mace bucko!”
Yeah, okay. I was somehow lost in the 1940s with my fieriness. Bucko? Really?
“Anna,” the voice called. “Anna wait!”
What? He knows me? I slowed my run and turned to find a man with a dark buzz cut approaching. He looked entirely different, and yet the same all at once. He still had those mesmerising eyes; that sharp jaw and bony cheeks; the soft lips, pink in the cold along with his nose; and that same heart-warming smile. His hair was different though: dark buzz cut; and his eyes had dark circles underneath them like two upside down crescent moons. He seemed skinnier and sallow; something I’d never seen in him.
He came in for a hug, but I was too stunned to immediately return the gesture until a second later. “Hey, Anna,” he chuckled. “How are you? How have you been?”
“What are you doing here?”
“I came to see you.”
I became stuttering and flabbergasted. “Umm, me?”
“Well, right now, yes,” he sighed, “I’m just living in New York for a tiny bit. I’m seeing a therapist here who is supposedly a miracle worker. Nikki told me she saw you.” I reddened. “It’s okay,” he said, knowing I was embarrassed that I didn’t see him in hospital. “I know you couldn’t come. What with the python guarding my bed and all.”
I laughed, half in relief, the other half nervously. “How’d you even know…”
“Oh, I, umm, I asked around. None of your friends gave me any information, it was actually Martin who said something. Then this guy called Adam,” he shrugged.
Oh, Adam. If it were Jack the Ripper Adam would’ve probably had just been as accommodating as he was to Derek. Oh yeah, here’s the number, and the address, do you want the address? Social security? Her jugular?
“So you’ve come to see me?”
“Yeah, I was feeling a little weird about New York, I don’t really know anyone here, so I decided to visit you. See a familiar face. Wanted to catch up. Have a drink even maybe? Even though I probably shouldn’t.”
We stopped at a rickety bar that was still open this time of night but with so few patrons inside. Derek and I took a booth in the inconspicuous corner of the room, the light above us humming to its own beat.
“I did hear what happened,” I affirmed first and foremost, “I’m so sorry I never came to see you. I know I should have.”
“At least you know what happened,” he said, running a hand through his buzz cut a few times over as if he were brushing something off. I’d never seen Derek so bare in my life.
I nodded. “You overdosed.”
“And—” he rolled up his sleeves and turned his wrists over. There, in the dim bar light, I saw a couple of slashes. “—the crescendo.” He grinned happily; a strange proudness, almost. He was definitely not afraid to show it. “I really need to fix this depression thing. On top of being bipolar, I don’t think it’s such a good trait.”
I stared at him worriedly. My forehead crinkled and my eyes soft; but I strained to smile at his little joke that the combination must have made me look like a pervert.
“Well, are you better?” Should I ask that?
He shrugged, cinching his nose. “A little. I’m taking heaps of medication that’s killing my sex drive, and I’ve been wanting to fuck for a long time. I miss feeling a girl underneath me and us coming; but lately, it’s been pretty shit. Nikki’s even tried offering herself to me.”
My eyes widened a fraction and I quickly composed myself. “Really? When?”
“Around the same time I moved to New York,” he laughed, throwing back a shot.
I laughed with him, my shoulders shaking. “Well, I must admit, you still look good.”
“So you’re living with that Danny guy huh?” Derek lifted a brow.
I rolled my eyes. “It’s Daniel. And yes. Just for the time being, I’ll be looking for my own place soon.”
“Back again, I see. Well, you know what they say.”
“Seventy-seventh’s time is the charm,” he grinned.
I chuckled. “Shut up.”
Is it weird to say that I’ve missed Derek? Had I been so desperate for an Adam clone that I needed anyone to replace him?
“What you got there?” Derek gestured with his chin to my rubbish bag flaunting it’s presence on the table.
I sighed. “A big mistake. I ripped a piece of paper up and wanted to piece it back together. And then, if I had to, re-write its contents in the same handwriting so Daniel wouldn’t notice.”
“Sounds simple enough,” Derek joked. “What is it?”
“It’s just, a love letter.” For some reason, I felt weird telling Derek what it really was.
We took another shot and, with the nerve-wracking of tonight, and my panic, I had been coming down from my excited state that I was beginning to feel the crashing exhaustion. But I couldn’t sleep. I just couldn’t. I had to fix this. Tonight!
“Well let’s go then,” Derek said.
“Let’s go back to your apartment and sticky tape it back together.”
“I can’t,” I shook my head.
“Because Daniel could have come home by now.”
For a moment, we fell silent. Derek then cleared his throat. “Well…I do have sticky tape back at my place,” he offered hesitantly.
I could see him feigning the casual nature of his tone with a lot of effort and little results. He was being sincere, but given our history and his current condition, I knew why he was being so shy and testing. Careful not to curdle the conversation.
“I—if you want,” he rushed out.
I smiled. “Yeah, sure, why not.”
Derek nodded and smiled back. “Cool.”
We were getting ready to leave when Janet texted. Derek took the chance to go to the bathroom before we stepped out, but I only had one item on me, so I didn’t really need to put much effort into getting ready.
‘THE WEDDING IS OFF! I’M CALLING IT OFF!’
I groaned with a pulsating worry. Now what happened?