Aiden is sitting beside me. I touch his large, calloused hands and try to fit them within mine. My hands are so tiny is what I think. He stops me, and carefully holds my hand in a different way. Like a father would have held his daughter’s. I immediately remember my father and smile. I lost him when I was 10. Aiden looks at me intently. I think he understands what I’m thinking because he slowly tightens his grip, and gives me a soft smile, soft but knowing.
We are sitting on the sleeping branch of a large maple tree. You must be wondering, why is the branch sleeping? Let’s leave it for you to guess. Just beside the large canopy of the wonder, there’s a small ornamental cherry tree. The layers in which the pink blossoms fall cannot rival the beauty with which the white blossoms veneer the branches.
“It is aesthetic, isn’t it?”, Aiden asks.
“White is arresting”, I say.
He nods his head and there’s an equally congenial silence. We breathe the same air, the same fragrance, and I bask in the happiness that even for a duration in my life, I have the window to be sitting beside him, and feeling the intimacy of our existing love. None of us even utters a word, but we both know that in this moment of infinity, we feel something cosmic. You know, like the way you would feel while waking up beside your loved one; while picking up the small brown leaf from the ground knowing that it has had its share of days on the Earth; while putting on the new necklace you were gifted by your father on your birthday when you were on the threshold of your teens. You are feeling it as I say, right?
A crisp, invigorating breeze starts blowing, as we sit on the branch which is quietly laid on the ground as if breathing at its own pace. That is the sleeping branch, I mentioned before. Aiden turns towards me and tucks a strand of hair behind my ears.
He cups my face in his hands and says, “You are beautiful as the evening, Eve, and alive as the sunset.”
We both laugh because it has become an inside joke of ours; him comparing me to the twilight sky in different ways. I can feel the brisk air entering my veins and flowing through each blood vessel making me aware how life’s delirium actually feels like.
I kiss him softly and tenderly, and he whispers with a gentle voice in my ears, “I really love you Eve, and I am happy I get to feel this air of warmth with you.”
Aiden gets up from the branch, and he offers me a hand. He’s chivalrous, but this is just his concern for me. I am not particularly confident walking with my slingback heels. All my life I have spent wandering around in Mary Jane’s, and for the very first time, I decided that a little change hurts nobody. I smile at him, he knows me so well. At the very back of my mind, I can hear my conscience speaking like a fiend against my own happiness.
“He deserves to know, Eve before it’s too late.”
You know, what you do at that moment of incertitude? You ignore whatever seems to dampen your heightened emotions. I did the same. I ignored a calling, and time would tell if it was the right decision to make.
Holding his hand, we walk through the path laid in front of us. Brown verdure surrounding us, as I wondered how long before I decay like the foliage, before our love gets tarnished? I was never optimistic, to begin with, but it seemed like my own thoughts got the better of me, every time.
“Eve, is something wrong?“, he asks.
“No Aiden. Stop destroying cool moments like these.“, I glare playfully at him while wringing my hands like I do when I am unresolved.
He must have caught on the silence. Burying my overbearing thoughts under the very stressed lobe of my complex functioning brain, I occupy my mind with loving ideas about Aiden and my future.
I close my eyes and sink myself in, within this moment of vouched affection. I try to keep my attention on him alive as possible, and we head towards our car.
I am about to get in, when I notice a man standing behind the car from the rearview mirror. I look carefully, but the next moment he's gone. I shake my head to ward off any obtuse thoughts.
"Aiden, was someone there?", I ask still doubtful.
"No babe, we are all by ourselves here. Why though?", he seems a little wary now too.
"Never mind", I shrug.
We drive off. I am able to shake off any other feeling haunting me when I visioned a man, 'the' man there. Aiden drops me off at my house and kisses me goodbye.
I spent the rest of the day like a shadow without a purpose, and stay cooped up in my room responding to Aiden's text and calls to not make him worry about me.