Chapter Thirty-Four: Slow Night:
I hesitate at first. "Am I…?" I have done this before and still the words won't come out. "It's nothing."
"It's nothing. I don't even know how to say it either. It'll come back to me."
Anna-chan shifted her body towards me, frowning. "Is something bothering you?"
"I didn't say that."
"Sure you did."
"I'm fine." I growl through clenched teeth.
"Never said that you weren't."
I sighed. Walked into that one, didn't I? I shake my head. "Why do you do this to me?"
"Never mind." I covered my head with the pillow as she broke into laughter.
"It feels weird, doesn't it?"
I lift my head from under my pillow. "Excuse me?"
Anna-chan rolls over onto her stomach. "This marriage concept."
"Ours or marriage in general?"
"In general, yes." She thoughtfully confirmed.
"How do you mean?"
"Well, nothing really changes in a sense. I mean, look at us. We still live together, the sex hasn't changed, and you still have the same job. So, not much has changed, has it?" She shrugs. "Except maybe we have nicer rings, but that's it."
"Well, there is the ever present specter that is your Mother."
"True…" Anna nodded. "I kind of see your point."
My eyes fly open wide because I can't believe my ears. "You do?"
"What do you mean by that?"
"Couples do change in marriage." She looks up at the ceiling, thinking. "I guess…" Her eyes meet with mine. "Will we change?"
"Perhaps, but will it be good or bad?"
"We'll have to see. Let's not worry about that now. Okay?"
I pull her firmly into my arms for a snuggle and sigh as I kiss the top of her head. She pulled back to stare directly into my eyes.
"Are you sure, Asato-kun? Because…"
I'm tired, and don't have any answers right now. So, I stop her talking with a blistering kiss, and don't stop until she's breathless.
There's something that's been nagging at me for a long time, and it's nagging at me again tonight. It doesn't help that I'm feeling a little needy, but I decide to speak up. This time, jumping in with both feet, not holding back. I swallow hard, and go for it. Bring it on, I'm ready for the truth: "Anna-chan… Am I… Am I, damaged?"
She searches the expression on my face as she formulates her answer but replies without hesitation, "Yes, you are. Kind of like me in a way." She kisses me on the nose to reassure me.
My heart sinks at her words. "Oh…"
She rests her head against my chest. "It's okay, though."
"What are you saying?" I look away, feeling a bit puzzled.
But Anna-chan looked up at me with bright smiling eyes, "You are perfect just the way you are."
"Yes." She gently traces circles on my chest. "I really mean that. You are perfect the way you are. You can do no wrong in my eyes."
A sense of relief fills my chest. I pull her close to me, and sigh in relief. "I'm glad."
IV: Fragile Love
Anna-chan has fallen asleep in my arms. She looks so peaceful. Sometimes, I wonder if I'm actually living in some kind of dream. I smile, and close my eyes. If this is only a dream, I don't ever want to wake up!
Still, I can't help but wonder what I've done to deserve her. She's an amazing woman. Socially withdrawn, but still great, nonetheless. I feel completely loved by her. But then, I frown.
Anna has so much faith in me. Maybe too much faith. I shook my head as I try to make sense of this. This is too much to take in.
So, I can do no wrong in her eyes, huh? We'll see just how long that lasts.
If anyone were to ask me what she sees in me, I'd just shrug because I really don't get it. I'm clumsy, ridiculously dorky, and absent-minded, to boot. Damn, I very nearly forgot about our date last week. And still, she says loves me. Even though Anna-chan is just as damaged as I am, it doesn't matter. Some of my relationships couldn't survive because I was broken. They tried to help me, but I ended up pushing them away. This time, there is a thin glass wall between Anna and me. I break into a little smile as I think how lucky it for us, that there are cracks in this wall. The fissures grow deeper each day. Just one more push is all it needs - but which one of us is going to make that move?
I froze when I felt her weight shift in my arms. I look down at my wife and tenderly sweep a few wisps of hair from her forehead.
"Asato-kun," she mumbles in her sleep.
A warm feeling in my chest returns after hearing her saying that. The cracks grow deeper still.
VI: Tear Down Our Wall
In the morning, we awaken to the patter of rain outside our bedroom window. I kiss her on the cheek as she yawned and stretched.
"I have tomorrow off, my love" I whisper softly.
"You will?" she asks groggily.
"Yes," I smile devilishly. "But can you spare a few minutes for me this morning?"
She nodded and laughed, then kissed me under my chin as we continued to hold each other tight.
I think it's going to be a great day. But I'm looking forward to tomorrow…