Thursday, 16 May 2013

Proposal

I smiled at the multi-coloured birds that twisted on their fragile threads as they spun in the air around me. So many origami cranes spinning in a kaleidoscope of colours, catching the light streaming in from the window on their paper thin wings. The door had opened to reveal paradise. I had once dreamed of a room filled with these, the words I loved dangling from the ends of the intricate folds of these paper birds. Poetry, written on scraps of lined paper and clipped to the underside of the last origami bird in the dangling trains that barely brushed the tiled floor. He had done more than I even dared to dream of. I smoothed the wings of a red one near me and smiled to see the little hearts drawn in felt tip pen on their tips. The blue ones had tiny clouds on them and the yellow ones small suns that had smiley faces. His attention to detail amazed me, but I had expected no less from an artist. I wandered through the hall, wondering how long it had taken him to fold all of them and to decorate each with his little symbols. Someone, probably him, had left the windows open and the birds swayed in the breeze with each light breath of wind that made the gauzy curtains flutter, their pink and cream undersides adding to the surreal scene before me.

Everything was as I had left it that morning before I rushed to work. However little touches had been added while I had been away. Dainty china vases lined the antique furniture that sat around the room, filled to the brim with peonies and succulents that ranged from the palest pinks and creams to a deep blood red shade that I loved. I almost laughed out loud as I discovered the notes tucked into each bouquet. The large, slightly childish writing scrawled across each palm sized card reminded me of every little thing that he loved about me. I ran about in a breathless excitement, collecting the precious cards that held his love. By the end of my impromptu treasure hunt, I held 11 cards in my hands. Just the hall alone held so many presents for me. Memories flooded my mind as I cupped the cards and read through each one, never knowing that my little quirks were noticed and even more surprising, loved. 

In a half dreamy state I started walking to the next room, the dining room that also housed my kitchen, when something bumped into my forehead. I looked up to see a heart shaped helium-filled balloon dangling in front of me, a parcel wrapped in brown paper and topped with a dark red bow anchoring it to the floor. Tucking the cards into the front pocket of my favourite canvas backpack, I bent down to untie the balloon and retrieve the parcel. It was heavy, almost the weight of a small bag of rice. I hefted it onto my hip as I made my way to the nearest chair that sat next to the dining table with its solid legs carved with animals and vines. After tying the balloon to the back of the chair, I lifted the parcel to the table before noticing the surface was smooth, newly polished till my reflection shone back at me as I lay the parcel down. Nothing in this section of the house had been drastically changed, I noted. The raised bar counter, initially supposed to be for liquor which we had later converted into a cooking area still remained as it was, undecorated and plain. A plate of white chocolate chip cookies wafted its amazing scent into the air as I sat down on a bar stool that remained from the earlier d├ęcor. So something had been added after all. I bit into a cookie as I deftly untied the bow and began to peel away the layers of paper. A yellow foil edge peeked out of it. Cat food? A frown scrunched up my forehead as I unveiled the unusual gift. It wasn’t like him to send gag gifts but there was a first for everything I thought to myself as I pulled out the bag and set it on the counter. The rustling of the bag was followed by a plaintive and very insistent meow from somewhere about my ankles. Dismissing it as my imagination, I hopped down from the bar stool and almost stepped onto the smallest ball of calico fluff I had ever seen in my life. Huge blue-green eyes stared at me demanding food. A silver collar attached with a note hung around the tri-colour fur ruff that circled its neck. All the note said was “Hello, mistress. My name is Louis. FEED ME!!” I complied and was rewarded with loud purrs for a creature that tiny. I had to admit, he knew me by heart. Every little dream and wish had been granted so far, and I was only two rooms into the house. 

Leaving Louis to chomp his way through the bowl of cat food to his heart’s content, I wandered into the first bedroom which was a guest room of sorts, not really expecting to discover anything in it. I could hardly stop the gasp that escaped my lips as I opened the door to find that every inch of the bed was covered with flower petals and the hoodie I had been eyeing for weeks nestled among the sheets and the pair of boots waiting for me at the foot of the bed with a note that said “Wear us out for dinner. We’re going for a moonlit walk!” Trust him to surprise me every step of the way. 

The bathroom had been cleaned and a bubble bath that smelled of vanilla awaited me but I couldn’t stop. There was only one room left. Excitement fizzed through my blood as I wondered what lay within. Our bedroom. I padded across the narrow hallway to the familiar scratched oak door I faced every morning of my life together with him and pushed at the doorknob. The cat bell we had hung together on the door knob tinkled merrily as I stepped inside. 

The smell of clean sheets and warm musky vanilla and cinnamon greeted me. He sat with his back to me, the strong shoulders and slim build I knew so well silhouetted against the sunlight streaming in from the open windows that faced the small garden in the backyard. Smiling to myself as I saw the nervous tremor that ran the length of his shoulder blades and down his back, I stepped forward and closed the door behind me. The same strings of origami birds dangled from the beams of our four poster bed, tangling themselves with the deep red curtains that had been pulled back with simple silver bows embroidered with our initials. I crept across the space and curled myself against his warmth. His brown eyes were smiling as I nuzzled against his neck and breathed in his scent. He took my hands in his, rubbing slow circles on the backs of them, the way I had done for him when we first met. His other hand held me tightly to him, almost pulling me onto his lap. We didn’t speak. My heart, full to bursting with happiness. His, unknown to me other than the show of love I had enjoyed today. Was it minutes? Or perhaps only seconds? He let go of my hand and I made a soft noise of protest in the back of my throat. I missed his warmth by my side. Grabbing for him, I noticed he had crouched down by my feet that were dangling off the edge of the bed. He went on one knee and I nearly passed out from the heart beat that throbbed so hard in my chest. A small red velvet box appeared in his hands as he turned his brown puppy dog eyes to me. “Will you marry me, love?” he whispered in his husky voice. 

~Rei Shiori

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