“I could sit here forever,” she said. “I could just sit here forever.”
“Could you?” I muttered, hugging my knees. “Could you really?”
“With you?” she smiled brightly. “Of course.”
The sun burned. It burned my face, my skin, my heart, my soul. It burned to the deepest core that it could reach and back again, filling me with a haunting type of warmth. My only defense was to wish, to pray, for the cold, for the dark and the damp, for some counter-action to this faux happiness. I held my head in my hands, cradling it in an attempt to keep everything in, to keep everything out.
“Look at the stars,” she smiled. “They’re like.. little.. sparklers. Little sparklers in the sky, aren’t they, Theo?”
I grinned back at her. “Yeah, and it looks like little wizards are carrying them.”
“Wizards!” she squealed, her voice reaching an altitude that I had never heard before.
I clenched my hands so as to make them taut, to make them able to hold everything between the two of them. I could not believe myself, believe the lies I told, believe the life I lived. The sun slowly sank into the ground, the Earth almost giving way under its weight. I held my breath and lifted my head to watch the battle. I could not bear it.
“The water’s shimmering again, Theo,” she said. Her eyes glinted with the flowing river before us, the only thing keeping us from melting away into its peace being the bench we were sat upon.
I leaned back to get a better view of both the river and June. “Yeah,” I nodded. “The water’s shimmering.”
“And what do you think about it?” she asked suddenly.
“Think about what?”
“The water,” she said. “Me,” she added quickly, quietly, slyly.
I stayed silent, contemplating the words that were now sitting between us. “What do I think about you?” I asked incredulously after the silence seemed too thick to keep to itself.
“Yes,” she said. “Yes, Theo, what do you think about me?”
Again, I sat silently, gazing just beyond June, just beyond the river, just beyond the air and time and space.
“Marry me,” I said to my hands, choking on the words like rocks, spitting them out onto the asphalt river that was below me then. “Marry me, June.”
Of course, there was no response. Tears streamed down my cheeks like rivulets and I clawed at my face– a vain attempt to make them stop. A vain attempt to take back everything I said, everything I didn’t say, everything I meant to say but never had the courage to. I looked up again, trying to make the scene before me disappear.
The steel away from the tree almost as though it was repulsed. There was a certain color of red painted carefully along the windshield; her hair was spread unconsciously about the headrest like a puddle, like a pool of her conscious, slowly evaporating as the seconds dragged by.
“Do you like driving?” she asked.
“I’m not really sure,” I said. “It’s a thing that I have to do, at least.”
“But don’t you like the curving road and the never ending asphalt?”
“Yes…” I trailed off before adding, “Well it ends somewhere. It has to.”
“At home, right? All roads lead to home.”
“All roads lead to Rome, June.”
“Same thing,” she laughed.