The din of a family sitting down to dinner faded into the background for Aiden. He stared at the whiskey in his glass, turning it over in the shaft of sunlight that fell from the window. The color burned bright and golden like her eyes. That’s what he always thought of. It’s why for the past year he poured himself a glass every day at sunset. Not to drink but to watch and when the sun faded into dusk he knocked it back. To forget, to erase the pain her memory caused him. For the past couple days, however, nothing he did helped. Everything reminded him of her. He would hear her voice asking him a question, but when he turned to answer she wasn’t there. Finding himself wanting to hear her laugh, he’d watch her favorite show only to be disappointed that she wasn’t sitting next to him. No matter how many times he washed the sheets, he could still smell her as if she was lying beside him. Every time his chest would tighten in anger, and frustration. At himself for ever pushing her away. ‘God, but how could I be so stupid.’ Fingers tightening on the glass, Aiden lifted his gaze to the tall dining room window. Not seeing the picture perfect view, but seeing her, Grace. Agonizing pain. That’s what he felt every day, every minute, of the past year living without her. It’s what he knew he’d feel for the rest of his life without her.
“I can’t do this.” He whispered into the quiet room.
“Aiden?” a warm voice called as if she said it before. He turned to look at his mom, sitting at the head of the table, a worried frown marring her face. Everyone at the tabled watched him. He hadn’t realized that she’d been calling him for the past minute, so deep was he in thought. He stood abruptly, his chair crashing backwards, dropping his glass on the table.
“I’m sorry mom. I have to go.”
“No! You don’t understand. I need her. I have to go to her. Grace…”
“Is right here.” a soft voice from behind him. Aiden closed his eyes. It couldn’t be her. He didn’t want to turn and see that she wasn’t there. He couldn’t withstand another blow. A warm hand cupped his face. “Look at me.”
Opening his eyes he stared down into the most beautiful women he’d ever seen. “You’re here.” He wasn’t shamed that his voice came out hoarse or that tears glittered in his eyes.
“I’m here, love.” She smiled, tears streaming down her warm brown skin. He bought his hand to her face, catching the tears, never noticing the differences in complexion. He brought his lips down to hers. Gently, sweetly, caressingly, the shape of her lips something he could never forget.
“Promise me…. Promise you’ll stay. Marry me and stay with me forever.” He whispered.
“As long as you promise me.”
And so he did. And so she did.