Caitlin Comes to Tea
Danny arranges the teapot and cups, tries to smooth his unruly hair. She’ll be here soon, and his life hangs in the balance. He’s a sailboat without a breeze; she is his tailwind.
He peeks at his watch, frowns. Five till four. She’s going to be late. His frown deepens. She’s not coming – not now, not ever. He’s falling into a bottomless pit. He stares at the minute hand ticking away his empty life. The hand reaches twelve; the front door slams. She flits into the room like a bright butterfly. He’s soaring, flying, leaping tall buildings. He tries to say hello, but can’t speak. His vocal cords are frozen.
He puts on the kettle, practicing in his head. Dearest Caitlin, would you do me the honor … Too formal, not her style. Honey bunch, how about ... Too casual, not his. He still hasn’t said a word. No matter. She’s been chattering away – something about her second cousin Violet and the jeweler. He hasn’t been listening, too intent on asking The Question.
Caitlin pulls a small box from her purse and tosses it to him with a brilliant smile. He opens it, and stops breathing. A man’s wedding band, twisted silver. The larger version of the ring in his own pocket. He looks at her in astonished silence. Suddenly all the color drains from her face. She’s drowning, going down, down, down. Oh no! I thought … but Violet said .. if not me, then who?
He pulls her from the waves, fights off the sharks, tames the angry sea.
Of course it’s you. His voice is sunrise and sunset, white bridal gowns, three a. m. feedings, summer vacations with the twins, admiring her first grey hair. It was always you. It could only, ever be you.
They rush into each other’s arms. Crowds are cheering, old men dancing. The sky is raining pink and red camellias.