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Do You Love Me?
We were growing apart, and it scares me.
You were caught up in your work - going from place to place, finding inspiration for your art - and I was left to fend off the world alone. I resented you for that, but you never seemed to notice.
Now you dragged me across the country to your gallery opening, and you weren’t even by my side. I was surrounded by stuck up art collectors, and I’ve never felt more alone.
I spun my wedding ring around my finger and sighed quietly. My job was to be supportive, to smile and say “He’s just so talented!”. Sometimes being the perfect wife was too much and I just wanted to lean on you; to let you deflect everyone and let my mask slip.
Would you see it as weakness if I broke down?
You gave me everything - the house on the hill, anything I ever wanted and more. But lately you seem distant, always looking at me funny and disappearing into your studio (where I am forbidden to enter as of lately) for hours and hours. Am I not pleasing anymore? Did I do something wrong?
And odder still, is some of my things have gone missing. First it was my favorite shawl, then pictures of me from when I was younger disappear from their frames. When I bring the matter up over our quiet dinner, you shrug and never meet my eyes.
Are you slowly erasing me from everything?
I am yanked from drowning in self-pity by someone’s arms wrapped around me from behind. My body stiffened, but then I got the scent of your expensive cologne and relaxed. “There you are my angel.” you whispered, kissing my ear. Your finger played with my silver necklace. “Where have you been hiding?”
Gently, yet firmly, I moved your arms and slipped away. I didn’t understand your teasing. Why show interest tonight, but never before?
“I’ve just been wandering here and there, admiring.” I replied cooly. Inwardly, I flinched at my tone, but part of me felt like you deserved it.
“Ah.” you smiled, your eyes sparkling. “Hither and thither I see.”
I was amazed how you overlooked my cold shoulder.
Turning to admire one of your photographs, I felt your arm wrap around my waist and you gently pulled me against you. I had an urge to lay my head on your shoulder, but I shook the feeling away. Then you leaned close, and sighed. “I know you would rather jump in front of a train then stay here one more second.” I unconsciously went ridged, but he ignored it and continued, “To tell the truth, I would too, but trust me, everything will get better soon. I have a surprise I’ve been dying to show you.” You chuckled, your warm breath tickling my face.
I heard someone call your name behind us, and before you could turn away, I said quickly “Est-ce que tu m'aimes?”
You blinked at me, and didn’t answer.
Then you were gone, and the place where your palm was on my lower back turned cold.
Est-ce que tu m'aimes?
Do you love me?
Was I too bold to ask you if you loved me?
I know you understood perfectly what I asked you, you told me yourself your family lived in France for six years. You were fluent in the damn language.
Nibbling on some sort of fancy watermelon wedge, I wondered what my life would have been like if we never met. It does scare me think about it, but I do almost every night I go to bed alone.
And every night, I cry myself to sleep and dream of the first time I saw your face.
I was running.
Waves crashed, gulls cried, and I laughed.
My feet sank into the sun warmed sand of the Cabo San Lucas beach with every step. Behind me I heard my friends calling for me to stop, but I ignored them. I’d never felt more alive.
And I wasn’t going to let my sun hat get away from me.
Most people would have let the ugly creation roll away with the wind, but I thought it was lovely. The faded pink color gave it a look of being owned by a loving person. Also, I had just bought it for twenty american dollars.
The hat was airborne for a few moments, and the warm air gathered under it and flung it twenty feet farther away. I thought the hat was a goner, but it came to a rest on an exposed rock and waited for me to retrieve it.
I dashed up a miniature dune and scooped up my prize. I laughed as I straitened, and just as I placed the hat on my head, I heard a click.
You looked down at the expensive camera in your hand and smiled. I feel in love with the smile, and the way your eyes sparkled when you did it. Then you looked up into my confused face and said “That was the most beautiful picture I’ve ever taken.”
For a moment, I thought you were some sort of stalker.
“Delete that!” I cried, storming towards you. “You have to right to take that picture.”
You held your hands up and took a step back. “If I do that,” you say quickly, holding the camera out of my reach, “then I’d destroy a master piece.”
“Like I care!” I raged.
I lunged for the camera, but you sidestepped gracefully. “Hold on.” you chuckled, holding out your hand. “What about a deal?”
Narrowing my eyes, I hissed “I won’t take any money.”
“No!” you laughed, your smile spreading across your face. “I’ll delete the photo, if-”
“If what?!” I growl.
“If... you agree to going to dinner with me.”
I was caught of guard. “Sure.” I said sarcastically.
“When should I pick you up?” you asked, not catching or openly ignoring my sarcasm.
“Seven.” I whispered to a dark room and a cold bed.
The crowd at the gallery was starting to get restless, their eyes looking for an escape.
I was looking for food.
These tiny watermelon slices weren’t going to cut it.
A man in a crisp black suit - with shoulders that could scratch diamonds - called for everyone’s attention. He asked for everyone to head towards the back of the gallery, something about the final piece being revealed.
And as the responsible wife, I am to smile and be in front of the crowd.
Everyone seemed to become like children, giggling and bouncing on the balls of their feet. A small sliver of excitement swam through my stomach. I, too, wondered what the final piece of art will be. Usually, you would tell me everything about your work.
At the back of the gallery, a large canvas about six feet tall was covered by a thick, velvet curtain. The crowd buzzed as you stepped up on a box and held up your hands for silence. Then, in your most official presenting voice, you said:
“Thank you all for being here tonight!” Everyone clapped, I tapped my fingers together. “I know it’s been a long night and everyone’s read to hit the sack, so I’ll be quick.
“A few months ago, I began to question what lead me to do this. To be a painter, and a photographer.” you paused, biting the edge of your thumb, then you continued, “And I realized that I owe all of my work to one person. The person that made me see the beauty of the world by just looking in their eyes.”
You turned slightly, gripping the curtain. “I believe this to be my best work ever, and the most beautiful thing in the world.”
And with a mighty jerk, you yanked down the curtain.
I felt my body go numb.
The painting before me looked like a snapshot of that day on the beach, but from your point of view. My hair blown across my face, a smile just forming on my lips. How you painted this so realistically amazed me, even though I made you delete the picture.
Tears filled my eyes, and I looked toward you. We held each others gaze for what felt like hours. Everyone oohed, and awed, they clapped and whistled. But you never took your eyes off of mine.
Next thing I knew, you had your arms around me and your lips met mine. You made me remember why I fell in love with you, and how stupid I was to think I had ever stopped.
“Oui, tu es l'amour de ma vie. Oui, tu es l'amour de ma vie.” you whispered in my ear.
And I finally let myself break down, and you held me the whole time.
You never let go.
Est-ce que tu m'aimes?
Do you love me?
Oui, tu es l'amour de ma vie.
Yes, you are the love of my life.
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