Night had fallen and the heater had been turned on to anticipate any cold that somehow managed to sneak in through the door. It was Monday night, Aislinn and I had just arrived from work.
As usual, I picked her in her office just to walk her home safely. Whenever she saw me ready to pick her up, she always waved her hand happily as if she didn’t have any deadlines. Aislinn would jolt out from her desk, say goodbye to her colleagues, took my hand, and pace happily to our apartment.
However, that evening was different.
When I coped my arms around her and walked her to our apartment, she just gave me a weary smile. She wasn’t as talkative as usual. Her eyes were pinned to the ground and she leaned closer to me than usual. I tried to talk her out but she just answered in short answers.
After a few minutes walk from her office, we arrived at our apartment. Our apartment was still dark. The curtains of the gigantic window with the skyline view were not yet closed. In any other days, I was the one who turn the lamps, closed the curtains, turned the heater on, then took a bath while Aislinn cook us dinner.
However, that evening was different.
Seeing Aislinn’s gloomy face, as her husband, I didn’t want her to bear any more weighs.
“Hey. I know you’re not feeling well for some reasons you don’t want to tell me for a while. Why don’t you take a bath-a long shower if you think you need it-while I prepare our dinner?”
For the first time in this evening, or night, she looked me in my eyes and said helplessly, “…the lights? …the curtains? …the heater?”
“I’ll take care of those.” I gave her a peck on her forehead. “Now off you go! Pamper yourself! And when you’re done, dinner will be ready.”
“Thanks, Peter,” she said weakly. Contrary to her perky personality, she walked to the bathroom like a zombie who hadn’t eaten brains for decades. Something was surely not right.
Once I heard the faucet was turned on, I quickly did my chores. I cooked fettuccine aglio olio as it was her favorite food. I also baked some chocolate lava cake, the dessert we ate on our first date. In 30 minutes, I managed to get my chores done perfectly. I even managed to set the table with candles and hot chocolate drink to indulge her.
However, there was no signs of Aislinn getting out from the bath.
“Aislinn?” I called from the couch. No answer. “Aislinn?!” I shouted. Still no answer.
Panic started crawling inside my brain. What had happened to her? Why she was so weak and gloomy? Was she sick? Or…!
“Aislinn?!” I called as I entered the bathroom.
Aislinn was still there, sitting in the bath covered with bubbles up to her lips. Her eyes were closed. I hope she was just fallen asleep.
“Aislinn?” I shook her shoulders gently.
She didn’t move. Was she unconscious? “Honey? Are you awake? Can you hear me?
For a moment, I thought of loosing her. I thought about her laugh whenever she was making me do something silly. I thought about her high-pitched shriek I used to hear whenever she saw a cockroach approaching her. I thought about her gorgeous smile she gave me through the sheets every morning as a greeting.
I thought of simple things I barely recognized she gave me everyday and the absence of it. It gave me a pain in my heart. It created a hole in my soul I could never close.
To my surprise, Aislinn gasped in a sudden. “What? What? Where am I?”
“Oh my God, thanks God you’re alive! You’ve fallen asleep while you were taking a bath,” I said. “C’mon, Honey, let’s get you out of there.”
Aislinn nodded helplessly. I reached the closest towel and wrapped her with it when she finally stood up. Gently, I carried her on my arms. Her weight felt less heavier than the last time I carry her. As I walked to our bedroom, she curled in my arms and leaned on my shoulder.
When I let her sat on the edge of our bed, she suddenly asked, “Pete, where is my sweater?”
“Wait. I’ve seen it somewhere. Go put on your undergarments and I’ll be back.” I went to search in the living room and found her favorite sweater, a well-knitted white and purple sweater. “Got it! Do you need help to put thi on?”
“Nope, thank you, Pete. I’ve troubled you much this evening,” she said as she struggled putting her sweater on. She somehow got her head stuck beneath the fabric. Clumsy.
“Don’t tell me you don’t need my help, Aislinn,” I said as I kneed in front of her. I gave her sweater a little pull downwards and her head popped in front of me.
She pouted her mouth in front of me. “Sorry… and thanks.”
“Don’t say sorry. It’s my job-no, it’s my pleasure-to do this,” I said.
“Really? Is this your pleasure?” she asked me, somehow sounded sarcastically.
“Aislinn? What’s wrong?”
She stared at me sadly like a duck being an outcast among herds of gooses. “Is this what you want? Is this your pleasure?” she asked.
“What? Taking care of you?” I asked. “If that’s that, sure it is.”
“No,” she said with a long tone. “Well, yeah. I don’t know. Yeah,” Aislinn exhaled a deep breath. “Is marrying me before you turn 25 is what you want?”
“What? What kind of question is that?” In my entire existence, I had never thought that someday the love of my life would ask me this kind of question.
“I don’t know,” she shrugged. “I don’t know why I get this mood swing. Maybe it’s my PMS or something, I don’t know. Just answer the question!”
“Well, there must be something that triggered you to ask that question to me. Tell me.”
“Well… I heard the boys’ convos in the office today. Dave, the guy I’ve told you once, was getting his bachelor party tonight. Out of nowhere, Alan, my other colleague, ask him ‘Why do you get married so soon? You’re not even 25, you can still hit on other girls’,” she said. “So, I just kept thinking about it. Do you regret marrying me in your early 20s?”
I let a giggle out of my mouth-I couldn’t help it. I thought she was having a major problem or hiding a big secret that could take her away from me. Thanks God I was wrong.
“Hey,” I said as I lift her chin so that her eyes were on mine. “Don’t be silly. Do you think that I want to spend my early-adulthood gallivanting around every corner of the town to hit on girls which is not you? I finally found you, the love of my life. What can I regret if I got the chance to marry the love of my life?”
“B-b-but.. what about the freedom of being single? I don’t like being alone but I suppose men do,” she said.
“Yeah, maybe some other men do, but I don’t. I’ve been single my entire life and I know it better that it’s better to have someone than being alone,” I said. “Aislinn, when I said that I will always be by your side in good and bad ’till death do us part, I really mean it. When I said ‘I do’, I really meant ‘I do’. I don’t care if people say that single life is much happier than marriage life. It may be true to them but not to me. To me, happiness is being beside you and it will always be that way.”
For the first time in those few past hours, Aislinn left a hint of smile on her lips. She rarely got insecure and when she did, the world seemed gray. To be precise, my world turned gray.
“Thank you, Peter,” she said. “I love you.”
“And I love you too,” I said as I landed a peck on her chin.
As I stood up, Aislinn hugged me from behind, making me unable to move. “I love you and I’m hungry,” she mumbled with her face on my back. Yeah, sometimes she went that absurd.
“I’ve cooked you fettuccine aglio olio. You can eat while I take a shower.”
“No, I’ll wait for you. I’ll just lay myself on bed,” she said as she flounced to the bed. Against all of the odds, Aislinn buried herself beneath the sheets.
“Don’t fall asleep and scared the hell out of me again, okay?”
“I won’t,” she said, her voice was muffled. “Now go get a shower so we can eat!”