21 - Making Excuses
James clicked on the next video on Sunshine's video blog site, My Life In A Roll. She said she chose that title because she felt that doing the videos and posting them on the internet one at a time is like unrolling a film from the can one scene at a time until the closing credits.
James never really liked that title but as he promised to be her bearer of hope, he said her movie will go on forever and that it will be the most beautiful piece anyone will ever see. "I'm very blessed to be in it." He smiled.
The video started playing and James could still remember what a nervous wreck he was that day.
It was a week after Sunshine was released from the hospital and a few weeks before Christmas. Everyone decided it was best for her to go back to the initial setup of having the young couple in the Malden house for a few days before they moved out to their own place. Plus there was a matter of proposing marriage to her that needed to be settled.
And that was what that video was all about, they went with their families to a winter theme park in the city. Given that they live in a tropical country and with limited time to prepare, James settled with the best option he has for his plan.
As he held one of her gloved hands, James faced Shine to fix her earmuffs and the hood of her coat in front of the row of snow-laced Christmas trees. He stared at her face lovingly as he gently brushed her cold cheek with his thumb while his palm rested on her jaw.
"James, you're acting weird. What exactly are we doing here?" She asked, her eyebrows wrinkling in an adorable frown.
He grinned, flashing his dimple. "Hmmm... Three things, my love. One, bond with our families."
"And it looks like that's working. They're all getting along happily. Our Dads are instant best friends and Matthew loves his new Aunties." Shine sighed as they happily watched their families taking pictures in front of the different ice sculptures.
"What's the second one?" She asked.
"Two... We stand right..." He walked a few steps to the middle of the room with her. "here and wait."
"The snow. So we can cross an item on the list."
"Snow kiss." She whispered just as the machines on the ceiling started sprinkling man-made snow around them.
"You know this is fake snow, right?" She laughed.
"I know but I also know that this is real." James said with a smile as he carefully lifted her chin up with his thumb and slowly leaned closer, inch by inch, until their lips touched and they shared a tender kiss with the snow softly falling on their heads, shoulders, noses and blushing cheeks.
Dan and Rina made sure to catch the lovely couple's precious moment on video and so did the dozens of people who started to crowd around them.
She sighed and smiled as he cupped her face with his hands and touched his forehead on hers with a contented smile on his face.
"I love you, Sunshine. I love you so much." He whispered and kissed her nose.
She giggled shyly and answered. "I love you more. So, what's the third thing?"
"Number three..." James took a deep breath before pulling away from her and getting down on one knee.
"James... " She gasped, suddenly realizing what he was doing.
He took out a little box from his pocket and opened it to show a modest princess cut diamond ring. She placed her hand on her lips and blinked back her tears.
"James..." They said at the same time.
"Will you marry me?"
"Stop!" She cried at the exact moment he popped the question.
"What? Shine..." He asked as he hurriedly got up. He reached out to her but she stepped back.
"No. No, James. I can't marry you." She sobbed as tears fell racing from her eyes.
"But why?" The still dumbfounded James asked weakly almost in a whisper.
Everyone around quietly watched with bated breaths, holding back tears, like they can actually see the young man's heart breaking.
"Shine? Don't you love me?"
"I do. God! I love you so much, James. That's why I can't marry you. I don't want to steal your life away. The whole point of getting married is to have a future together, build a family, have children, grow old together." She said tearfully with her voice fading at those last words. “I can't give that to you.”
"You're wrong, Shine. That's not what it's about. It's about love and fidelity and being together through thick and thin, and ups and downs, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, 'til..." He paused, unable to finish the sentence.
"'Til death do us part. Sadly, that will come too soon for us." She said. "I can't do that to you. You deserve better, James. Maybe... Maybe we should stop this altogether.” She said as she turned and started to walk away.
"You're so selfish, Shine!" He yelled and she stopped walking. "Stop making excuses! Stop making this about me because it's not. It's about you and your fear of uncertainty. You hate that you're not in control. You hate that you don't know what's going to happen. You're scared that you don't know how, when or where this is all going to end. But, Shine, we're all the same..."
He walked, sobbing as tears streamed down his face, towards her. He slipped his arms around her waist and hugged her from the back.
"We're all scared. We're all worried but I'm still hoping. I have faith in a Divine power who can make everything better. I have hope and as long as I have that, I will hold on to you. Please, Sunshine, don't let go. Hold on with me." He whispered.
He carefully turned her around to face him and gently wiped her tears with his hand.
"Shine, you're not taking away anything from me if you marry me. You would actually be giving me the greatest gift of having my soulmate, my sunshine and the love of my life as my wife."
She looked into his eyes and found the sincerity and determination in his words.
"So, please, Shine, will you give me the gift of being your husband?" James asked.
She sobbed and nodded her head. "Yes."
Dan and Rina chatted behind the camera with the shot still focused on the newly engaged couple.
“Gosh! How much longer should we film this? My fingers are freezing,” she complained.
"Aren't they tired of it? They've been kissing for 10 minutes." Dan whispered.
“I know. Other people started bringing popcorn to watch them.” Rina said.
“There… They finally stopped. Oh! Dear God! They're not done. They just moved to the bench.” He chuckled.
“Should we follow them?” She asked.
“No. Leave them to it. Let's go get coffee together. To warm your hands." He answered.
James chuckled as the video ended. “So that's how they started.