Stay With Me

Without thinking, the words “Will you marry me?” escape your lips. Words that you had mulled over day after day since you two got together. The ring, carefully nestled in your back pocket, eyed the day after you said “I love you”, poking your backside as you lay there in the grass. As those words leave your lips, you suddenly become incredibly self-aware and flustered, as she responds back- “….Wait, what did you say?” You dart up, feeling a light layer of dirt and grass tickling your bare thighs on this hot summer’s evening, and begin absentmindedly scratching your head, feeling dirt particles falling from your hair onto the ground below. She gets up, concerned, and walks over to you. “Jackson…?” The words begin flowing out of your mouth again, and you are powerless to stop it. You can’t even think straight as you say “God I was really hoping to be a lot smoother when I did this. I had this whole day planned out, where we would go where we first met, and at the end of the day I would disappear and come back with a bouquet of lilies I had the workers hold onto for me, I would kneel down on one knee, and tell you just how much you meant to me before asking you to marry me. But… I just couldn’t wait any longer, you know?”

Are you ever just with someone and wish that that moment you two are sharing could go on forever? Like you’re with that special someone and as you look over at them, their eyes shining so bright with love and energy, you feel your heart ready to pop out of your chest? You can barely catch your breath, as you feel a cold shiver run down your spine, your heart beating so quickly you can feel it reverberating through your entire body? You turn to them, but when you go to say something, nothing comes out. Somehow, not only had they taken your heart, but they even still managed to take your breath away, even after being with them for five years? They look back at you, and smile so wide, small dimples appear on either side of their perfect face. They raise one of their eyebrows and just say-“What is it? What’s wrong sweetie?”

She stumbles back, tears beginning to form as her smile grows wider and wider. “Wait, are you saying…” I move closer to her, softly hold her hand in mine, and get down on one knee; using my free hand to slip the small dark blue plush box out of my back pocket, opening it up to display the ring I had been holding onto for exactly four years, five months, and 17 days. The ring glistened in the evening sunlight- a black opal gem rested in the center of the ring, surrounded by emeralds and sapphires attached to a golden band. “So?” I said, desperately waiting for an answer. Tears begin rolling down her face, and she quickly shakes her head up and down. “Of course I’ll marry you, dummy.” I pluck the ring out of the box and slowly slide it onto her finger, it fitting snugly, as if it always belonged there. I stood up and pulled her in close, our lips touching, my heart still rapidly beating from all the excitement a moment ago. “Where did you get this… HOW did you…?” She was speechless as we pulled away. I stare into those eyes that I had fallen in love with years ago, shimmering a deep, ocean blue. I smiled- “I told you, I had been planning on this for a long time now.” I thought back to the back to back shifts I worked at the grocery store and the deli nonstop, saving up all that I could so I could buy the best ring possible. But to see her smile, to have a ring that is even a fraction of how beautiful she is to me… it was all worth it.

We hold hands, laying back down as she keeps staring back down at the ring resting ever so delicately on her finger, giggling like a schoolgirl. We laugh, staring up at the sky as it is painted beautiful shades of purple, orange, and pink, stars finally beginning to appear one by one from behind the painting of the heavens before us. Checking the time, I softly say “It’s getting late- you ready to go home?” She nodded as we slowly got back up, and made the long trek back home. Our surroundings transitioned from a light green hillside, speckled with an assortment of flowers and trees, to a bustling city, lit up by streetlights and packed bars, brimming with excitement and noise. We kept walking, listening to the whirring of engines as cars cruised by us, music being pumped out of open windows, with people shouting from sunroofs; enjoying this gorgeous summer evening. It was starting to get late, my eyes beginning to flicker shut, as I felt her head lightly rest on my shoulder, holding me tightly. Through my arm I could feel her heartbeat- so warm and slow- and I pulled her in tightly, giving her a squeeze as we kept walking. We turned towards our street, leaning on one another as the pedestrian light flickered a soft orange, counting down- “10, 9…”

As the number reached zero, the light changed and we slowly began walking towards the other side of the road. I stared at her dozing off, barely able to stay on her two feet, as we began making our way through, a few cars pulling up at the stop- waiting for the light to change, so they could at last go home as well. As I stared at her, her head lightly bouncing up and down, trying desperately not to fall asleep, I remember seeing a light from the corner of my eye. I heard someone loudly shouting, music blaring from the car, as their engine roared. As I glanced over towards the car, I noticed it getting closer and closer, the music getting louder and louder. The car wasn’t stopping. I felt my heart beating faster and faster. There wasn’t any time; the car was moving so fast. “Julie. Hey- I love you.” She looked up at me, smiling but confused, and I smiled back before quickly putting one hand on her back and one tightly on her arm. “Sweetie, what are you…” With as much strength as I could muster, I shoved her towards the sidewalk, and watched her stumble to the sidewalk as the car lights drowned out everything else around me. The last thing I saw was her turning around, her face so perfect under the streetlight- her sandy blonde hair in a messy bun. I smiled at her as I heard a horn blaring loudly in my ear, and then everything went black. The last thing I remember was feeling Julie holding my body as close as she could, her body heat emanating, wet drops hitting my face. “Jackson!? Jackson! Please stay with me. ‘Hello? 911? My fiancé was just hit by a car. Please send an ambulance over immediately. He’s barely conscious.’ JACKSON!”

Then everything went quiet.

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