“Come on, Vansing. Open wide. Say ahhh.”
Hildreth put the forkful of cheese and marinara smothered gnocchi into Elsie’s mouth. “There you go! No spitting them out now.”
Clarice grinned. “Anytime you want to feed me like that, hot stuff, I’ll gladly say ‘ahhh’.” She stabbed a couple of the shell-like dumplings off her own plate and twirled a long string of cheese around her fork. “Of course, if you insist on it hard enough, I’ll gladly feed you off my fork.”
Hildreth turned to her. “Hm. That does look good.”
“It’s the same thing you have on your plate.” Elsie stated through her mouthful.
“That’s true. But, Els! Just look at all that cheese!”
He opened his mouth wide. “Ahh.”
Clarice laughed and put her fork into his mouth.
“Mm mm mmmm!”
Elsie used the linen napkin by her plate to clean the marinara sauce off his face.
This is a moment I will always remember and treasure.
They’re both so happy.
So much in love.
Clarice turned her attention to her plate. Will they remember it too? Will it be one of those memories? One of those sweet memories that will warm them when things go wrong?
When the other is no longer around.
She smiled as Gerald held her closer. They looked up at the night sky and watched the fireworks explode. Red. Green. Yellow. Bright white that boomed and crackled. She laid her head on his shoulder. “Gerald.”
He kissed her head. “Mm.”
“I want every star in the sky. Every flash of the fireworks. Every moment, every second, every hour of every day. Gerald. I want to marry you.”
He quickly released Clarice as a series of red fireworks went off in quick succession. “You…”
She pulled the small jeweler’s box out of her slacks’ pocket.
His mouth dropped open. “You…”
She shifted her position so she was kneeling on one knee. “Gerald Vansing,” She opened the box. Yellow and white fireworks exploded overhead. “Gerry. I love you. Marry me.”
He mutely reached into his slacks’ pocket and pulled out a matching box. He opened it.
She gasped in delighted surprise.
“You stole the words right out of my mouth. But I’ll ask you anyway. Clarice Lindley, will you marry me?”
She hugged him and cried happy tears. “Yes! Yes, I will marry you!”
“Clarice. Clarice.” He hugged her. “I will marry you too.”
The fireworks burst into an extravagant grand finale of light, sounds, and colors.
Clarice looked down at the wedding ring on her finger. As the diamond flashed in the restaurant’s lighting, she could almost hear the fireworks crackle and boom.
I never told her.
Maybe it was wrong of me.
Maybe I should have told her long ago.
Maybe I should tell her later today.
I don’t know.
But I never told Elsie that you were on your way to see her that day.
That last horrible nightmare of a day.
Maybe I should tell her. It might give her the closure she needs.
Or it could sicken her with guilt.
I don’t know.
“You okay, Mom?”
Clarice smiled at her daughter. “Of course! I’m sitting right next to the hottest man in the room. I’m doing very good. Rawr!”