I looked over to the clock on the stove as I dried off my hands. The red numbers glowed 7:03. Only twenty-seven minutes left.
Tonight, everything had to be perfect because she was perfect. Well, maybe not perfect, but perfect for me. Thoughts of the first time I saw her flashed into my mind. I don’t remember it, but she swears I said, “I was hoping maybe meeting me would be nice and you have pretty smile.” Maybe I did. I was so nervous. Mortals have no place in the company of angels.
I caught a dim reflection of myself in the kitchen window and tried to judge my appearance through her eyes. The 2-day stubble that she joked took me a week to grow was gone. My brown hair looked almost black with all the gel that held it up. I straightened my already straight tie and let my eyes wonder over the rest of my outfit. Black pants hid a new pair of black dress socks. I chuckled to the sound of her voice echoing in my head, “You can’t wear brown socks with a black suit! It’s tacky…”
Shaking away the memory, I took the salad into the dining room and went through my mental checklist for what seemed like the hundredth time. Tall candles stood like twin guardians over the table. The Justin Bieber cd that played softly would have ruined the mood for anyone else, but I knew that it was secret pleasure of hers. Every detail had been meticulously planned, even down to the bread.
“DiMaggio’s has the best bread in town. Did you know that they brush each loaf with a thin layer of honey as soon as it comes out of the oven? That’s why it has that hint of sweetness.”
She always noticed the details. It had been the source of more than a few fights. Compared to her, I was blind. But tonight would be different. Tonight, nothing escaped my attention. I was determined to show her that…
I returned to the kitchen to check the time. The clock read 7:22. There was only one thing left to do, but I stood frozen just inside the threshold. My nerves were greater now than when I had gone to speak with her father.
“I don’t want you to think that I am trying to take your place in her…”
He laughed a great big laugh.
“A husband can never take the place of a girl’s father, but he can make it more affordable to be one!”
Time mocked me as another minute blinked into existence on the stove. The freezer stood only a few steps away, but a canyon of fear filled the space between. Another minute passed and the thought of failing to go through with the evening grew stronger than any other fear I would have to face tonight.
I took a deep breath and crossed over to the freezer. Cold air escaped as I opened the door and seemed to crawl up my arms. I took out the desert and closed the door with my elbow before the cold could find its way to my heart.
The cake looked perfect. Two small figurines stood facing each other with their feet buried in icing. It was hard to believe it had been a year already. She loved looking through our wedding album, but for me, nothing could capture the look in her eyes as she walked down the aisle towards me. I placed cake on the counter to thaw and retreated to the dining room once more.
My hands searched for the comfort of each other and I folded them together in front of me, but the sweat between them convinced me that my pockets would be a better option. As they dove in, I felt the ring for the first time since I had gotten dressed. She had never taken it off, even in the shower. My fingers rubbed the cool metal as if it were a magic lamp. If only it were. The medicine had not been strong enough to save her. All I had left were memories and wishes.
Copyright © 2012 Adam Drake