Curt kissed her goodnight on the steps leading up to her trailer home. “Amy, I love you, please think about what I asked.”
“I know you do, Curt…”
“Then why are you hesitating.” He caught himself. “No, I’m sorry. I don’t want to push you. But please tell me you’ll think about it.”
She glanced down and then met his eyes. “I will.” The air hung heavy with an uncomfortable quiet. “I…I need to go in. I’ve got an early shift tomorrow at the diner.”
“I’ll call you; maybe stop by at the diner for lunch.”
She smiled enigmatically and opened the trailer’s screened door. Closing it between them, Curt’s face became webbed and clouded with the screen’s dark mesh. “Yes, that’ll be nice. I’ll look forward to it.”
“Don’t shut me out, Amy.”
Her lower lip was trembling and she bit it, trying to stop it and the flood of tears brinking behind her eyes. I just need time, that’s all.” She drew a deep breath, touching the screen between them. “I’ll look forward to your call and maybe seeing you at the diner.”
He matched his hand on the screen with hers. Nodding without a word, he turned and walked away. At his car, he stopped and turned. “I love you, Amy.” Not waiting for a reply, he drove away.
Amy moved a few steps back into the galley kitchen of her trailer, a home she’d been awarded by the court after a bitter divorce settlement from her abusive husband, Jerry. At the sink, she filled an electric tea kettle with water and turned it on. Pulling a teapot from the cupboard, she sat it on the counter and placed two tea bags inside.
The water finished boiling and she poured it into the waiting teapot. The steaming water and fragrant vapor relaxed her. She reached for her favorite teacup. It was a gift from her mother on her wedding day two years ago. White porcelain with a gold rim and a hand-painted scene of a cottage covered in roses. “Marriage is like the rim of a cup,” she’d told her daughter, “each has their own side, but together they are one. The cottage, well a girl can dream, can’t she?” She’d laughed, and then solemnly added. “I pray it brings you many blessings.”
But it hadn’t. Her marriage ended six violent and turbulent months later. At first, she’d trusted Jerry, believing his remorse, accepting his regret. But then three months into a pregnancy he’d hit her so hard that she’d lost her baby.
Amy had held on to the teacup, however. The peaceful scene of the cottage offering a secret escape and something tangible to hold on to – a touchable hope – an expectant dream.
She put the tea service on a tray and moved outside to her patio. Setting the tray on a plastic table, she poured her tea and sat down with a sigh.
The sky was clear; the air musical with the callings of cicadas and tree frogs. The moon lightly brushed the tips of nearby evergreens. Its full yellow light seemed to collect in the bowl of her teacup, turning it gold.
She’d once heard that a universe could be found in a single drop of water. And here, on the surface of her tea, a million of them were bathed in a golden light.
She took a sip of tea and her thoughts turned to Curt and his proposal of marriage that evening. Deep inside she knew she loved him; and he her. But love, she’d learned, was easily disguised, like guests at a masquerade party. The question was more could she trust love at all.
She sat her tea down just as a cloud scudded across the moon. Its fleecy vapor, momentarily darkening the surface of her tea. A temporary cloud, fleeting in its intrusion - not marring anything in its wake. If life could only be… her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a car, its door opening and closing.
“Amy?” It was Curt. “I didn’t mean to startle you. But I couldn’t leave you – us- like this. I love you and can’t imagine your not being in my life. Us, growing old together.” He sat and took her hand, the gesture reflecting off the moon-gilded surface of the tea, framed by the gold rim. “I’m not Jerry, Amy. I could never hurt you. Can…can we talk this out?”
A tremble fleeted across her heart. She encircled his hands and answered, “Yes.”
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