Chapter 32 | Sincerity - Part 2
“Mark, are you ready to go? We’re going to be late.”
I watch as Mark continues to look at the TV, completely ignoring me, and on purpose.
“Mark, I’m not going to ask you again, let’s go!” I sigh, walking over to the TV and shutting it off.
Mark gapes at me, almost as if he can’t believe that I would ever do such a thing. Clearly, he’s got a thing or two to still learn about me.
“Thanks a lot.” He mumbles, finally standing up from the couch.
“Oh boo-hoo, Mark has to get up and function in society, cry me a river.” I roll my eyes, and for that, Mark slaps my ass.
I glare at him as I point to the front door, demanding that he walk outside, so we can leave.
We’re meeting my parents for lunch this afternoon, their idea, not ours.
Mark wasn’t thrilled about the date, but I assured him it would be over before he knew it. Obviously I lied, but I had to get him to agree to go somehow. Mark and my parents haven’t always seen eye to eye, especially in the past whenever I first brought Mark around. To them, he was Connors delinquent best friend, and nothing more. To them, he had zero substance, and no motivation to accomplish anything in life.
Back then, I would’ve agreed, but now, I see him completely different. He’s amazing and so focused on his future. He’s excelling at school, which is something I never thought would happen. Yes, we both have to retake our semester, but it should be a breeze since we already know majority of the material.
We may be behind our friends, but they’re supportive, so that’s all that matters.
Who knows, maybe we can even catch up in time to graduate with everyone, just so long as we buckle down and focus. Mark and I have a goal, and I’m happy to say that it’s currently in motion and thriving.
“Is it going to be just your mom, or will your dad be there too?” Mark suddenly asks as we cruise down the road.
“Yes Mark, my parents will be at lunch together, since they both asked to meet us.” I deadpan, leaning forward to turn down the music currently blaring in my ears.
“No need to give me attitude woman, I was just clarifying details.” Mark says as he glances over to me.
I point to the road ahead, and Mark only smirks as he brings his eyes to look in front of him.
I love our banter and petty arguments. We do it just for the fun, we’re almost never serious. Even if we were, it wouldn’t matter. I love this boy with everything inside of me, and I would rather argue with him every single day, than be ignorantly happy with someone else.
After half an hour, we make it to the restaurant my parents suggested. It looks to be a regular diner, but knowing my parents, there may be a twist.
As Mark and I walk inside, I reach over and straighten the collar of Mark’s dress shirt. He playfully pouts and nudges my hand away, causing me to laugh.
I spot my parents inside, already sitting at a table.
“They could’ve waited for us.” Mark mumbles beside me as we walk inside of the restaurant.
“Hush, they only ordered drinks.” I whisper as we greet the hostess.
“Hello, how many?” The older woman smiles at the two of us.
“We’re actually here to meet someone, I see them over there.” I smile and point toward my parents.
“Absolutely. Take these two menus and your server Gina, will be with you shortly.” The older woman smiles as she hands Mark and I a menu. We take our menus and walk over to the table near the back, both my parents standing up to greet us.
“Hi sweetheart! I’ve missed you so much!” My mom immediately gushes as she pulls me in for a hug. I smile and hug her back, before turning to my dad.
“Get in here kid.” My dad smiles, opening his arms for me. I hug him back, happy that our relationship has reached an understanding after everything that happened last year.
“Mark, how are you?” My mom smiles over to Mark, reaching her hand out for him to take.
Mark gently shakes my mother’s hand, smiling back at her. “I’m great, never better Mrs. Olsin.”
“Please, call me Meredith.” My mom smiles before taking her seat.
“Mark.” My dad says next, extending his hand.
“Steve.” Mark smiles.
“Please, call me Mr. Olsin.” My dad says sternly, before dropping his hand and taking his seat beside my mom.
Mark’s smile instantly falls, before he and I both take our seats beside each other, just opposite of my parents.
“So, how are you feeling Naveah? I haven’t had the chance to call much since we last saw you.” My mom began the conversation, “Is everything healing okay?”
“I’m completely fine, mom. I only have a scar now, and I don’t feel sore or any pain anymore. I took my last dose of medicine last week. I’m officially healed.” I smile, leaning forward to take a sip of my water.
“I’m glad, your father and I were so worried.”
“Yes, since we were the last to know.” My father starts, and my mom discreetly nudges his side with her elbow.
“I’m sorry dad. It was a in the moment thing, I didn’t have time to debate it.” I grimace, knowing that this conversation would’ve come up eventually.
“There’s always time to make a life-threatening decision. There’s no excuse for it.”
“Steve, not now. We’ve already discussed this.” My mom says quietly, glancing over at my father.
“Mr. Olsin, I feel partially to blame for the entire situation. You see, I love your daughter, and I lean on her just as much as she leans on me. When everything happened with my mom, I’m afraid I wasn’t in my right state of mind. I was so scared I was going to lose my mom that I didn’t take the time to weigh my options, simply because I didn’t have any. To be fair, I didn’t know Naveah was doing it either, until it was already done. Maybe if I hadn’t of pushed my grief onto her, she would’ve thought it through first.” Mark explains, and my eyes widen as this is the first I’ve heard this from him. “I couldn’t be anymore sincere than that. I hope you both understand.”
“Mark, you are not to blame for this. I made the decision myself. You couldn’t have stopped me from doing it. I wanted to help your mom, and I wanted to help you. I’d do it again tomorrow. You didn’t guilt me into anything, I did it simply because I love you.”
My mom is smiling at the both of us, her eyes beaming. My dad, on the other hand, seems torn on what to think.
“Oh my God, you two are just the cutest thing! Aren’t they, Steve?” My mom smiles over at my dad, causing me to smile at her.
“Yes, very cute dear.” My dad says in his monotonous voice. “That being said, Mark, thank you for that. I appreciate the sentiment. Perhaps we can all move forward from this in due time. As for now, I’ve got my eyes on both of you.”
Mark glances at me, and I can tell he’s scared. I almost want to laugh, but I refrain.
“Enough of the serious talk, let’s talk about you two! What are your plans?” My mom asks, taking the conversation down another sketchy road.
“Well, right now we’re both just focusing on finishing school. Once we get closer to graduation, we’ll know more about what we want to do once college is over.” I explain, Mark nodding in agreement.
“Do either of you know what you want to do, career wise?” My dad asks, taking a sip from his water.
“I’m still on the fence.” I admit with a sheepish smile.
“And you Mark?” My dad glances over at Mark, waiting for his answer.
“I think I want to go into Medicine.”
The entire table is silent, even I’m at a loss for words.
“Medicine? Really? That’s ambitious.” My dad nods, accepting Mark’s answer.
“I don’t know if I want to be a doctor, but I do want to work at a rehabilitation center. I want to help people fight their addictions. I want to help change people’s lives, any way that I can.” Mark smiles, proud of his answer.
I look at Mark with a new appreciation. What he wants to do is brave, and going to be a lot of hard work. It’s going to take a lot of extra schooling, and a lot of training. I don’t know what that means for our future per say, but I can’t wait to follow him on that journey. I want to be right beside him as he reaches that finish line.
“Wow, that’s amazing Mark! I’m sure your mother will be very proud of you!” My mom smiles at Mark, reaching forward to pat his hand.
“Thank you, Meredith.” Mark smiles wide, nudging my side playfully.
“And while doing all of this, you think you can still provide for my daughter?” My dad raises an eyebrow, eyeing Mark as he waits for an answer.
Mark glances at me, and I already know he’s silently freaking out.
“Dad, I’m perfectly capable of providing for myself.” I say, causing my dad to bring his focus to me.
“That may be so, but I still expect Mark to do right by you.” He replies, giving me a stern look.
“Actually Mr. Olsin, I completely expect to provide and take care of your daughter. I would never let her go without, even if it means that I go without. She’s my main priority, next to school and my career, of course.” Mark smiles proudly.
Both my mom and I give Mark and my father an incredulous look.
“A woman doesn’t need a man to take care of her completely. We have our own brains, you know.” My mom chimes in, causing me to nod in agreement.
“That may be true, but a man is supposed to provide for, and take care of his family by any means. A man is the glue of any sturdy and successful family.”
I roll my eyes at that.
“Oh please, sometimes Mark doesn’t even know how to work the electric can opener.” I deadpan.
My mom snorts at that, earning a bewildered look from my father.
“Hey! Those things are tricky!” Mark defends himself, while my father places his hand over his face while letting out a sigh.
“Regardless, men are supposed to do whatever needs to be done. End of discussion.”
“I agree Mr. Olsin. Men need to be strong for their families by any means necessary.” Mark nods proudly.
I can’t believe the two of them are bonding, and over something so demeaning.
At least they’re bonding at all.
The conversation flows fairly easy after we drop that topic, and by the end of our lunch, everyone is smiling and enjoying themselves.
When it’s time to leave, Mark and I stand up to say our goodbyes.
“Bye mom, bye dad.” I smile as I hug each of my parents, promising them that I’ll call them more often than I do.
“Bye Meredith.” Mark smiles cheekily.
“Please, call me Mrs. Olsin.” My mom says with a straight face.
Mark’s smile instantly falls as he nervously scratches the back of his neck. Apparently my mom holds a grudge for his comment about men being the ruler of all man-kind.
“Right, have a good night Mrs. Olsin.”
Mark then turns to my father, “Goodnight Mr. Olsin.”
“Please, call me Steve!” My father smiles, shaking Mark’s hand happily.
Mark smiles again, but you can tell he’s reeling on the inside. He looks as if he’s going to implode.
I love watching him squirm. It’s been my entertainment for majority of the afternoon.
“Well, that was… interesting.” Mark says once we’re both back home at my apartment.
Riley and Lucy went out to the movies tonight, both promising that they’d come back home with new boyfriends.
I laughed when they told me that, but secretly, I hoped it would come true.
I want them to be as happy as I am, even if that seems unrealistic. We’re all still young, so Riley and Lucy have all the time in the world to find Mr. Right. They shouldn’t rush it. When it happens, they’ll know, just like I did.
“Want to watch a movie?” Mark asks, just as the two of us get comfortable on the couch.
I nod and walk over to sit beside him while grabbing the remote. I pull up Netflix, and then Mark and I argue for ten minutes on what to watch.
Once we finally agree on Stranger Things, even though I said it wasn’t actually a movie, Mark and I spent the entire night binge watching the entire series. Needless to say, we’re excited for season four to come out. Eleven is my favorite character, well besides Dustin of course.
Mark mentioned something about Nancy being hot, but I tuned that out the second he said it.
The next morning, I wake up alone.
I glance beside me and see that Mark is nowhere to be found, but in his place is a box of mini Reese’s cups. I immediately grab one and unwrap it, popping it into my mouth. The perfect breakfast.
I stay in bed for a few minutes longer, since I only have one class this morning that doesn’t start until ten.
I move the box of chocolate from the bed, and take it into the kitchen to place in the freezer. What can I say? I love frozen chocolate. I make sure to hide it behind the bag of frozen peas, so the two sneaks I live with won’t eat it all.
When I turn around, I notice a travel mug resting on the counter. There’s a note beside it:
Hey love, I put your coffee in here so it wouldn’t get cold. If you people had a normal coffee pot, instead of a fancy Keurig, I would’ve just left the coffee pot going, but ya know, here we are.
Enjoy your day, and meet me outside in the quad after your class. Wear that red sun-dress I love, because after class I’m taking you somewhere.
Your sexy, amazing, charming, handsome, perfect boyfriend ;)
Well, isn’t that nice. At least he’s not bashful.
I sip on my coffee as I get dressed. I took my shower last night after our binge session, so I didn’t need to worry about it this morning. Instead, I wash my face in the sink, and brush my teeth before working on my hair.
I straighten it out, but then I add a few light curls to it. Once that is done, I add some minimal makeup and then slip into my red sun-dress.
After pulling on my black sandals, I grab my phone and shove it into my bag, before slinging it over my shoulder and leaving the apartment. Lucy texted me that she got a ride from a friend, and Riley is still asleep, most likely because she doesn’t have any classes today. I can never keep up with her schedule.
Suddenly, my phone rings.
“Hey, are you on your way to campus?” Lucy asks.
“Yeah, just walking out the door.” I reply as I grab the keys to the car and head outside, locking our apartment door.
“Okay cool, because my class just ended and my ride here, can’t give me a ride back home.” Lucy signs into the phone, “I swear you make plans and boom, people just turn on you.”
“Yeah, that’s nice. Anyway, I’ve gotta drive, so I’ll see you soon.” I say in a rush before I drop the phone into my bag and rush to get inside the car.
I just want this class to be over with, so I can be with Mark already.
Once I get to school, Lucy sprints for the keys to the car. She tells me she’ll see me whenever, and leaves campus to go home.
An hour later, my class is over, and I’m finally walking out to meet Mark in the quad.
I see him sitting at a picnic table, decked out in dress pants and a dress shirt. He actually put product into his hair, and shaved his face clear of any stubble.
“Well, look at you.” I say with a smile as I walk up behind him. He stands up and turns to face me, his eyes leaving a warm trail up and down my body.
“I can say the same.” He smirks, “Shall we?”
He reaches his hand out, and I immediately take it into my own.
Another hour later, we’re parked outside of a familiar entrance.
“Mark, why are we here?” I frown.
Mark brought us to the same park that we met up at last year on Valentine’s Day, the same park that we got into a fight at, the same park that he left in a hurry and got into a car accident.
The very car accident that almost killed him. The very car accident that was completely my fault.
“I know what you’re thinking, this couldn’t possibly be romantic. Any outsider looking in would say, ‘Mark are you crazy? What on earth could possess you to bring Naveah here?’”
I glance at him warily, not quite getting where he’s going with this. Regardless, I nod for him to continue.
Mark then pulls a basket and blanket out of the back of his car, walking around to the front. He waits for me to get out of the car to join him, so reluctantly, I do.
I follow him as he walks over to the exact spot that we sat, the last time we were here. I look around, my mind a fog by this point. All I keep seeing is images of me ignoring Mark’s plea for me to share his feelings, Mark leaving in a rage, and Mark’s car upside down on the road.
I shake my head of my thoughts and sit down beside him on the blanket. Mark opens the basket and takes out a couple cans of soda, as well as two large sandwiches and a big bag of Cheetos.
“Naveah, I know you don’t want to be here, quite frankly I was even a little skeptical to bring you here.” He begins, and I eye him nervously.
“But at the same time, I needed to do this. The last time we were here, some things were said, and after everything was said and done, I felt completely horrible of how I treated you. I shouldn’t have just left, and that’s something that I regret every single day. When I told you that I needed you, when I tried to kiss you and you pulled away, it crushed me. It did things to me that I didn’t even know I could feel. I just wanted you to say that you loved me and wanted me too, but you didn’t. I shouldn’t have left, I should’ve just stayed. I don’t ever want you to blame yourself for what happened that day.”
I listen to everything that he tells me, taking in all of his pent up emotions.
He’s right, I can’t blame myself, but a part of me still does.
“I shouldn’t have been so stupid. I loved you too Mark, and even more now. I just didn’t want us to get together, only for it to not work out, and then everything have all been for nothing. I was nervous and full of self-doubt. I guess we can agree that it’s partially both of our faults.” I frown, looking down at my turkey sandwich.
“I still remember your favorite.” I hear him say, and I glance up at him to see him smiling.
“I know.” I smile in return, setting the sandwich down to crawl across the blanket. I push the basket to the side, and take Mark’s sandwich from his hands, placing it inside the basket next to mine.
“What are you doing?” He asks, still smiling at me.
I don’t respond, I only sit on his lap, my legs straddling his waist. We’re so close, yet I still yearn to be closer. There’s always been this invisible magnetic force, pulling us together. Sometimes I can’t even explain the feeling. It’s almost as if we need to be with each other, just to survive this shit-storm we call life.
I wouldn’t want it to be any other way.
I slowly lean forward, pressing my lips against his own. After a few moments, I pull away, gently resting my forehead against his.
“I’m doing something I should’ve done at this very spot, last year. I’m kissing you next to the lake, under this tree, under this blue sky. I’m telling you that I’m in love with you, a love so deep, that I can’t even fully comprehend how it makes me feel. I’m tingly all over, my stomach is in knots, and I can’t even think straight… but I know one thing is completely and one-hundred percent clear.” I say as Mark’s eyes bore into my own. I’m not even sure that he’s blinking anymore.
His stare is so intense, so captivating, that I almost forgot what I was going to say.
“You are my home, my knight in shining armor, my love and my best friend… all wrapped up into one amazing human being.” I smile wide, leaning as close to Mark as I can possibly be.
“Wow, Nave, that was incredibly cheesy.” Mark chuckles lightly, causing me to blush. “But it couldn’t be any closer to the truth. I love you too, more than you could ever possibly know.”
I let out the breath that I’ve been holding, melting into his touch and into his words.
“That’s why I want to give you this.” He smirks, reaching down into his pocket.
My stomach drops, the anticipation killing me.
He pulls out a small black box, slowly raising it up to my face.
“Mark, what the hell… is that?” I gasp, looking at the small box as if it’s a million dollars and we’ve just won the lotto.
“It doesn’t mean we have to plan anything right now, I know we still have a long way to go before that, but I just needed to give you this ring… Just to prove that I’m here forever, and that I can’t wait to eventually call you my wife. You are it for me Nave, and I couldn’t imagine this ring being on anyone else’s finger. It belongs to you, I belong to you.”
There’s tears in my eyes as I accept his ring, biting my lip as he slowly slides it onto my left ring finger.
Sure, it’s technically an engagement ring, but I know it will be a while before we actually get married.
I can wait, and so can he.
We’ve got our entire lives together, why rush anything?
I know in my soul that he is who I’m supposed to be with, there’s no single doubt in my mind telling me otherwise.
We may not be the best people in the world, or definitely not immaculate, but we’re us.
We’re Naveah and Mark, and that in itself, is the most sincere form of love.
After all, a little troubled sincerity, does go a long way.
T H E E N D