I open my eyes and see twinkling stars far above me. I feel a source of heat beside me. I look to my right and see Declan. He looks peaceful and content looking up at the stars. I turn so I am on my side. I stare at his pale blue irises.
“There’s the big dipper,” he spoke softly and lifted his left arm to point at the dark sky and stars. I looked up and saw it. The stars reminded me of tiny white flower buds. Stars were the beauty of the sky even though by the time we saw the light of the star the sun in that universe was dead.
That thought struck something. I wasn’t sure what exactly. Maybe a fear or worry. I was nearing thirty. I wasn’t married. Didn’t have children. I had a great boyfriend though and a house in which I wanted us to build our own family. He’d loved the necklaces. Would he say yes if I asked him? Or was it too soon? It had been almost two years since we met. Some people get married right out of the gate, within a month of meeting each other. If I got the ring and asked him it wasn’t official. We’d be engaged then. I was worried it was all too much. I didn’t want to drive Declan away after everything I’d found in him. Who’d be the ring bearer and flower girl? Our families were both small and didn’t really include young kids.
I rested a hand on his chest and leaned on an elbow staring down at him. He kept staring straight ahead at the stars and sky. Something clicked and it all melted away and I opened my eyes and was in bed. It was a dream.
Declan’s side of the bed was empty. My eyes panned to the clock. It was eight in the morning. Had Declan even come to bed? He’d stayed up past midnight when I went to bed painting and he wasn’t here when I woke.
I got up and picked my robe up off the hook on the back of the door. I opened it with a click and looked either way down the hall. The house was quiet and still. I almost wanted to get a pet, a cat maybe. Just to liven up the rest of the house.
I walked past the bathroom wrapping the robe around myself. I was cold outside of the bed. Declan’s office was behind me but I had a feeling he wasn’t in there. I approach the opaque glass door of the greenhouse. I can see the shadows cast by the plants on the door. I opened it and was hit with the musty scent of moisture and plant matter. It was warmer in the greenhouse and I eased the grip I hand on my elbows.
I walked alongside the rows of plants looking for him. The back-balcony door was closed oddly. Normally, if someone was out there the door was open. I walked down one of the isles to the door and opened it. A Robin was sitting on the rail of the balcony but Declan was nowhere. Where was he? Had he gone out with Madison?
He would have left me a note or texted me though. I left the balcony and walked back through the greenhouse closing the opaque door behind me. I went towards the stairs and down them. I checked the rest of the house. I then noticed the garage door to the house was open a crack. I went towards it and could hear Declan.
“I’m not visiting her in jail. You can go. I understand she was your wife, you loved her but she destroyed my lively hood and could have killed me. I’m staying as far away as possible,” he spoke, quietly mind you as if he’d wake me.
I pushed the door and it squeaked. Declan turned towards me with a hand over the phone.
“Just tell her I’m not coming and to not expect me to, okay? I don’t care if it’s her birthday,” he continues. “I got to go. I’ll call you later, Dad. Bye.”
He hung up.
He must have been up before the phone call came in or it would have woken me if he was in bed. He looked tired and pale.
“Did I wake you?” he asks.
“No, have you slept? You were still painting at midnight. You know I don’t mind paying the mortgage, you don’t have to stay up painting,” I reply.
“I enjoy it. What I don’t enjoy is early morning calls when I get up to go to the bathroom dragging me away from a bed with you,” he replies.
I noticed he’s not really dressed for being up. He’s in shorts and a faded t-shirt. His necklace pendant is resting on the back of his shoulder instead of straightened. His hair is sticking up at odd ends and his eyes are blood-shot.
Would the question give him something else to think about or something else to worry about?
“You okay?” he asks.
“Yeah,” I reply glossing over it all.
“Are you making breakfast or am I getting something when I go out to meet Madison?” he questions.
“You can get something,” I reply quietly.
I didn’t feel like cooking.
“When are you leaving?” I asked.
“I should probably get ready now. We’re meeting at nine-thirty and we’re meeting at a café on her side of the city,” he answers. He plants a quick kiss on my cheek. “Love you.”
He rushes back inside to get ready. I look around the garage feeling lost or left behind.
I turned back and go inside. Declan came down the stairs dressed with canvas carriers.
“See you later,” he comments.
“Bye, Deck,” I replied.
I listened to him start his jeep in the garage, open the door and back out. He closed it and then backed out of the driveway and drove off. I went upstairs got dressed in shorts and a t-shirt. I watered my plants and flowers and went back downstairs. I grabbed the keys to my Camaro. I repeated Declan’s process but also locked the front door. I drove towards Serge’s house.
Serge was an old friend. I’d told him I’d been looking for a roommate and one of his friends had found Declan. He was also good at giving advice. Mainly because he’d been through everything. Dating, engagement, breakups, marriage, kids.
“Klaus? What’s up?” he answered seeming both eager and interested.
“I was wondering if we could talk?” I questioned.
“Daddy, I want to go on the trampoline,” I heard a voice squeak.
A small boy about three or four appeared and pulled on Serge’s pant leg.
“Come in,” he replied pulling the door back and picking up the boy.
I could see the resemblance to Serge in the boy. Same jet-black hair and amber eyes. I stepped inside and he closed the door behind me.
He led me through the house to the backyard where there was a trampoline with netting around it. He placed the small boy inside the netting and he started bouncing around.
“You look worried. Is everything okay with you and your boyfriend?” Serge asked.
“I want to pop the question. Is it too early?” I replied.
“From what I’ve heard he’s a good guy. He helped you repair the relationship with your family. He doesn’t care about your fame or money. He’s loving and caring and he does beautiful paintings,” he starts.
“I don’t want to scare him off, though,” I continue.
“I don’t think he’s the type to scare easily,” he replies watching the small boy jump up and down.
“Where’s the older one? In school?” I asked.
“Yeah, She’s in the third grade. She’s grown a lot since you saw her two years ago. This one will start school next year. They get so big so fast. Mal wants another one. He loves the baby phase,” Serge answers. “I wouldn’t mind another one since I’ll be all alone during the day.”
“When did you ask him?” I inquired.
“After four years but we were slow going after everything. It all depends on the people. You never were one to wait. Once your parents knew, you left. Once you found someone you liked you tried to tell them. Whether anything happened was another matter. He loves you, right? I don’t think it would hurt anything to ask. Do you have the ring, yet?” he explains.
“No, I was going to go looking,” I replied.
“He accepted the necklaces well, I don’t think you’re going to lose him if you ask. He might say no but that might just be him not being ready. He loves you, you know that,” he continues honestly.
“But both our families are small and we don’t have any kids to be the ring bearer or flower girl,” I continue on.
“You can borrow my kids if you need to. I’m sure Jamie would love to be a flower girl. Can’t say the same about this one for the ring bearer because he can’t sit still but we’ll work it out if it’s necessary,” he continues. “Come on, Klaus. You’ve waited for this your whole life. We didn’t even know if we’d be allowed to get married until four years ago. Ask him.”
“Okay, I need to buy a ring first. I don’t know what to get him. Before I bought him the necklace he didn’t wear jewelry. What if he doesn’t like it?” I start in again.
“Maybe get him something simple even though he likes the bouquet of flowers charm. Maybe a plain gold or silver band with just a center diamond or a line of small ones or something?” he suggests.
“How did you know what to get Mal?” I asked.
“Well, we actually had conversations about wedding rings when we were friends and about what we’d like so we kind of knew,” he answered. “It’s a ring, he won’t care what it’s like, he’ll care that you loved him enough to ask.”
“Okay, okay. I can do this,” I mutter.
“You can and you will. Go find a ring now,” he encourages me.
“Bye, Serge,” I bid.
“Bye, Klaus,” he replies and turns back to his son watching him jump up and down on the trampoline.