Christine had made a bowl full of popcorn - cheese flavored. It was her favorite. These days, Ryan had started to come to love it too.
“All set?” She asked going into the hall. “I’m ready with condiments.”
Ryan looked up from the ground. He had just completed putting the Notebook movie on. “Me too.” He smiled as he got up to sit on the sofa, cuddling next to her. “Not cheese flavored.” He whined. “I’m sitting with the Notebook for fiftieth time. I expected the popcorn to be of my choice.”
“Sorry, baby.” She kissed his cheek and all his twisted face smoothened out. “You okay now?” When he showed his other cheek. She laughed as she obliged his request too.
“You know this is kind of similar to how we met, right?” Ryan asked, pointing at the rom-com. He took popcorn in his hand as he popped it into his mouth.
“We met on an airplane with you faking aerophobia.” She rolled her eyes. “At least Noah is straight with his intentions. You should have watched this before you flirted with me.”
He sat up straighter and looked at her. She sure looked serious. “Are you blaming me for my flirting abilities?” She was trying hard not to smile. “Because lady, I’m not sure if you can handle my flirts if I bring the big guns out.”
She put her head back and laughed not able to hide it any further.
“I believe you.” She said as she rested her head on the sofa. “The last time you tried to flirt, you told me that I was from McDonald’s because you were lovin’ it.”
He laughed along with her. “That was a chick magnet once upon a time.”
“If that’s still your flirting ability, I’m very happy.” She said, kissing his cheeks again. She pulled him to his spot as she rested her head on his shoulder watching the movie.
“And why the heck is that?” He asked, holding her tight.
“Because, I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who’s going to fall for that nonsense.” She smiled looking at him straight in his eyes. “And that’s the way I want it.”
“And you’ll be the only one.” He murmured in her ears, making her shiver. The air around them had shifted. With that, all their movie marathon was forgotten as they stared into each other’s eyes. “Be mine. Marry me.”
Drops of blood rolled down his spine as his hands shook violently. He was now running along with others, but his mind only recognized and chanted one name.
They had gone for a long ride. Everything was perfect - he had created a mix of her favorite songs while she had brought a picnic basket with his favorite sandwiches. They sang off key while they laughed and shared kisses.
It was one of the empty roads and they were going pretty slow. Ryan couldn’t get past the idea of how lucky he was to have her in his life. She was laughing at something he had said and looked like an angel to him. He had leaned in for a kiss and just before he could catch her lips with his, there was a sudden crash.
The next two hours were a haze. There were sirens and phone calls and policemen and ambulance. The only thing that he recognized was that his Christine was being taken away in a stretcher.
The beautiful face that he was used to was now smeared with blood. The pink pashmina scarf that she loved so much was bright red.
He wanted to shout and scream, but nothing came out.
“You need to get into the emergency room too.” One of the nurses told him, but he wouldn’t listen. It was his girl that the guys had taken into the OT.
He couldn’t give a damn about him when she lay there motionless.
“Please sir.” She said, and soon another male nurse was at his side. “You have deep cuts on your head and forearm, we should put a stitch on it. But before that, you need to fill out these forms and sign them.”
He did all the formality, hoping that the doctors knew what was best for his Christine.
He had even went through the stitches numbly, waiting for someone to tell that there was nothing wrong with her. After four stitches on his head and ten on his arm, he was released. He sat at one of the plastic chairs outside the OT waiting for the doctors to tell him something.
“Mr. Slier?” One of the doctors came out the room, searching for the relative. “You are the husband?”
Ryan nodded, not able to speak. His emotions were everywhere and he didn’t know if he could hold it if something had happened to her.
“She’s in bad shape, Mr. Slier.” The doctor said and all the hopes he had mustered till now, crumpled. “Her ribs are broken and it has scatted her heart by an inch. She has internal bleeding and I’m not sure how well she can recover.”
Ryan sunk on the seat, not able to stand still with the information. This was not happening. They had the perfect time together and suddenly, everything that he ever believed in was snatched away right in front of his eyes.
The doctor sat down next to him. “I don’t mean that there is no chance for her at all. What I’m trying to say is that, we are going to put her in the ICU and continue our treatments. We only wanted to give you a heads up.”
Suddenly it was hard to breath.
“But the good thing is, her body is responding well to the medicines.” The doctor smiled. “So there are chances. You understand?” There was a weak nod from Ryan. “I’m sorry.”
Leaving him alone, the doctor walked away. The hopes that had kept Ryan’s tears at bay crushed and suddenly, there was nothing more to cling to.
Wasn’t he the one responsible for this? Hadn’t he sworn that he would take care of her? What was he going to do without her?
No, that couldn’t be.
He had never believed in God up till now, but that night, he sat in front of the OT, praying to all the Gods that were listening to him. There was a silver lining that she was responding to the medicines.
He didn’t want at let it go.
Ryan walked into the cabinet to get to his seat. He knew he was late and if the planes weren’t delayed, then he was sure he would have missed the flight.
He heaved a sigh pulling his only bag above his shoulder as he walked to his seat. But to his surprise, a woman sat on his window seat, looking outside as if the runway had some fashion show going on.
He resisted the urge to roll his eyes as he walked towards her.
“Excuse me?” His voice was harsher than he had intended to.
As the woman turned around, Ryan held his breath. It was as if he had forgotten everything but her. She looked more than beautiful. Her brown wavy hair covered her perfect face as her eyes scrunched together in confusion. Her full plump lips parted as she stared. Was it painted in a maroon shade? It seemed like she had caught some sun.
“Yes?” She cleared her throat. “You wanted something?”
But Ryan couldn’t concentrate on her words for he put his attention to her lips - the way they moved in sync and how the paint had dissolved at the edges. Was this the right seat? He checked the ticket just to be sure.
“That’s my seat?” He asked hesitantly. He was not sure why he was feeling like he was hurting an innocent kitten. “Look.” He held out his ticket to her for inspection.
Her face broke into an apologetic smile as she tucked her hair behind her hair. “Sorry,” She muttered and he couldn’t help but have an amused smile on his lips. “I always like to sit on the window seat and since I couldn’t get hold of one, I thought… maybe we could switch?”
They could have. But there was only one problem.
He loved window seats too.
“I could, but I’m afraid of of flying.” He shrugged, looking at her squirm. “I booked a window seat to keep my mind occupied.”
“Oh,” She said and her smile fell. Ryan couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. He was ready to give up the seat for her, but she bet him to it. “Maybe, I’ll hold your hand all the flight while I sit here.”
She tilted her head towards one side and he couldn’t help but give in. It was like hitting jackpot. That lie he told was worth something.
As if he was going to pass that up for a stupid seat.
“That might actually help.” He said trying to put a straight face.
“I’m Christine Evans, by the way.” She said, holding his hand.
“And I’m Ryan Slier.” He smiled.
They both settled, his hand in hers as she smiled back.
Their intertwined fingers remained intact promising to not let go.