June 2022 Flash Challenge, Day 15
“I need to know,” she says, “where do you see us a year from now?”
He stops stirring the risotto.
He had made this for her enough times that she knows you have to keep stirring it. She nudges him to the side, hands him his wineglass, and takes the wooden spoon from him.
“In a year?”
“I expect we will be friends.”
She looks dejected.
“Let me continue,” he says.
She nods, ladles a portion of stock into the pan, and continues stirring.
“I love you; you know that.”
“I know,” she says, beaming. Every time she hears that, it’s as crisp a treat as the first.
“My job is to help you find your happiness and be as happy and fulfilled as you can be.”
Okay, not as nice as the I love you, but she was thrilled to hear his words.
Another nod, then she takes a sip of her chardonnay and stirs the rice.
“And therefore, what I can say with near-absolute certainty, is that we will be friends, at least, in a year.”
“Go on,” she says, leaning into his words. The scents, the wine, and his words are waking desires in her.
He brushes her hair away and kisses her neck.
“I cannot imagine anyone coming along that could love me better than you, but if someone came along that was a better match for you than me? Well, as someone that loves you and values your happiness as much as my own, why wouldn’t I step aside? If he could help you find more happiness than I could, it would be my duty to release you willingly into his arms.”
“Yeah, yeah. You say that like it would be easy. Letting me go.”
“Hardly. It would be hard as hell. I would miss you like crazy. But in the end, when I saw you, and I would still want to see you, when I saw you even happier than you are now? It would make it worth it.”
She hands the spoon back to him. She reaches for a tissue.
He stirs the plump grains of arborio; she dabs the tears away.
“How’d I get so lucky?” she says.
“I ask myself that exact question every time I wake up with you.”
“If you ask me where I see us in five or even twenty years, I would answer the same way. I hope I would always be willing to let you go if it leads you to more happiness.”
She insinuates himself under his free arm and hugs him sideways.
“I love you,” she says.
He reaches up and flips the exhaust switch. The soft hum of the fan pulls them into a relaxed state. The smells are divine. He stirs and grows aware of her form, next to him, hugging him.
They stand there in their tiny kitchen, stirring the rice and loving each the best way they know. Their love isn’t any more or any less special than any other love in the world, but it is theirs, and they rejoice in it with every fiber of their being.