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He is sitting criss-cross on your white rug, leaning up against the sea green wall. He admires the great job that you did, such a wonderful room he says. It took you month to get the feng shui perfect, and you are delighted that he likes it so much. The bed is exactly where it is supposed to be, making a clear path from the door to the window so the spirits can enter and leave freely. A single cactus stands on a small wooden shelf, a portrait of your dead mother on the shelf below. The bed is supported by two nightstands, even though you are the only person who sleeps in the bed. The balance is necessary.
He stands up and admires the collection of sea glass that took you three weeks to find and assemble. You bite your lip hoping he isn’t judging you. Hoping he doesn’t think you’re crazy.
His fingers graze the surface of your favorite piece, and you like the fluttery and strange feeling that hits you. The way he touches the glass shows he respects it, he is intrigued by it. You are not alone. He glances at you and you pretend not to notice. He tells you he has to leave, he is meeting his brother for lunch. You hide the disappoint from your face and lead him to the screen door. When you walk by the water clock you see he was in your room for 14 minutes and 28 seconds. Your heart quickly rises and falls.
The next morning you’re sitting at the kitchen table. The feng shui is off, but its fine for eating cereal in. Besides, sometimes you enjoy residing in chaos. The loss of other people’s control makes you feel more in control of yourself. That reassurance is necessary.
Today you are watering the tomatoes, carrots, and green beans. You sit like a pretzel on the warm bricks as you dig deep into soil. The way the earth feels under your fingernails makes you love life. Not love your life, just life in general. So you need to pick some tomatoes for him. So he will love life and living as much as you do. You wonder if he has noticed how strange you are yet. You hope not. Normally the feng shui is what scares them off. But he called you on your red telephone and told you he would be visiting tonight. Dinner must be prepared, a dress must be worn, tomatoes must be picked.
The water clock turns to the sixth notch as you pull the yellow dress over your head. Your hair looks nice this way, half dried and slightly wavy. You smile because you know you’re pretty. But then you frown again when you remember you’re crazy.
The doorbell rings, quickly you patter those deep, red painted toenails to greet him. You sit him at dinner, the dark blue plates offer a wonderful contrast to the pale wood of the table. He comments on your choice in placemats and you cant help but let out a smile. Decisions like that are very important to you. Colors mean so much when it comes to the atmosphere of a kitchen. Simple and plain but beautiful all at once. Kind of the same way you hope people view you. Or at least the way you hope he does.
After dinner he grabs hold of your hand and pulls you into the dark night of the culdesac. You sit with him on your neighbor’s cool grass. He wraps blades of grass around his finger as he tells you about his life. He tells you about the things that make him sad, he tells you about the meaning of life. He lets you talk about your mom. And not like the therapists let you talk about her. He isn’t getting paid to listen to you. When you start crying and he starts kissing you, you don’t make him stop. It’s the first kiss that doesn’t feel forced for you. That night after he leaves, you don’t feel like watching a horror movie. For the first time in a long time you decide on a romantic comedy.
Three weeks, four weeks, seven weeks go by. He comes over faithfully every Thursday night for dinner, every Saturday night to take you out, and every Sunday morning for a walk. Sometimes he even comes Tuesday for lunch. You begin to wonder why he hasn’t left. You start thinking maybe this one is different.
It’s date night, Saturday August 16th. You wake up early to clean the bathroom so you can shower without getting your feet dirty. You are in such a wonderful mood lately. You change the brown shower curtain to the baby blue. You use your expensive shampoo and spend a few more minutes on your hair.
He picks you up at eight, you are wearing white tonight. As you walk down the front steps you glow in the dark and he can’t stop looking at you. You chose a light brown lipstick and a beige foundation, your hair pinned to the back of your neck. Your mother’s topaz necklace hangs just below your collarbone and it chills your skin. Tonight he kisses you before you get in the car. It catches you off guard, but you like it.
Tonight you drink white wine instead of red, he got you yellow roses instead of pink. You have pasta salad instead of spaghetti, and you listen to Abbey Road instead of Let It Be. The differences are subtle, yet you notice. You feel as though he has made a decision that you don’t about, and that you aren’t supposed to know about. You catch yourself, feeling the familiar craze enter your mind. Breathe in, count, breathe in, count, breath out. Why are you so nervous, you need to relax.
He is acting normal, maybe this subtle change is good. Maybe something has changed in your life that is for the better. You don’t think so. With every change comes pain. The changing from summer to fall kills your squash. But you know that if it never turned to fall your carrots would never fully grow and your pumpkins would stay small like apples.
So when he asks to come in that night, you allow him to. You make microwave popcorn and laugh at him when he tries to make you laugh. The living room has the strongest feng shui, so you feel more able to laugh there. When he throws popcorn at your mouth and follows it up with a kiss, you don’t pull away.
You fall back into the plush of the carpet and enjoy the smell of him. Sometimes when he isn’t there you think you can smell him, you love that smell. He smells like fresh dirt after it rains, mixed with the smell of clean dishes and apple picking. An amazing smell only belonging to him. You tell him about this smell when he has you pinned. He smiles, and this encourages you. You tell him about how running water in a room is bad for the spirits, about how you think your mother lives inside everything living. You tell him about all the boys you slept with after she died. You tell him about how ashamed of yourself you are, you tell him how all you wanted was to be like her. He doesn’t laugh at you, he doesn’t scream at you, he doesn’t back away from you. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a small cloth bag. He pulls the two small strings apart and shakes the contents into your hand. You stare at the smooth wooden ring with the deep purple stone in the middle. As he kisses you he slips the ring onto your left ring finger. You say yes. Yes because he listens to you. Which is all you really wanted all along.