It was only a week after they closed our park before we decided to sneak in. Maggie and I had been coming here for five years and we weren’t going to let some rickety bridge stop us from going on that island. It was also our anniversary, what better way to spend it than to recreate our first date. So I had my back pack filled with her favorite foods, a nice bottle of wine hidden in a water bottle, and of course the ring I had spent months saving for.
“So what’s in the pack?” She asked as we hopped the fence blocking the bridge, me being extra careful not to jumble the bag too much.
“Just some uh.. supplies.” I knew she would assume it was my art pens and sketchbooks.
“Not anoooother portrait session.” Maggie joked. She secretly loved them and I knew it. She was the most beautiful girl I had ever known and I hadn’t quite mastered her face to what I felt when I saw her.
The bridge didn’t seem as dangerous as they had reported on the news. We ducked under the large oak tree that the storm took out. It had been the worst storm our town had seen in a long time. I had figured it was bad since they closed the park down until further notice. Which we both knew that meant way more than just some sticks thrown on the forest floor.
“Do you remember when the Robert Frost Park was closed down ‘until further notice’? And then they never did anything with it until one summer they flattened it… Then they built the stupid somethingextravaganzathingy place?” She said in a condescending tone.
“Bruno’s Lifting Extravaganza?” It was a new weight-lifting gym and large swimming pool complex with an outrageous membership program. Everyone was mad that they replaced a beautiful scenic park with a large muscle building eye sore, but especially Maggie.
“Ugh, whatever. You don’t think they’ll do that to this place to you?”
“Well with the amount of trees that are down? Maybe not, if they did it would take a while. We’ll have plenty of time to sneak in here again, I’m sure.” I put my arm around her and kissed her forehead. We stumbled a bit as we were walking and I saw a weird look in her eyes.
“I guess.” She pulled away to step under a tree that looked like it had been punched in the gut and was doubled over.
I pulled a cigarette pack out from my jacket pocket and lit one.
“Those are bad for you. They cause death and stuff.” She said with an angry tone I’ve never heard before.
“Ha ha, Since when did you start on the cancer brigade too?”
“I just… never mind.”
“Sweets, you don’t have to worry about me, I’ve got the lungs of steel.”
“Aquaman? Whatever, if I were a superhero with lungs of steel it’d be Superman.” I said with a huge smile on my face. But she fell silent.
We made it to our usual picnic spot and put down my backpack, then reached for the blanket she had been carrying. She handed it over and reached for the pack to see what was inside. I jumped toward her and pushed her hand aside. “Ah ah, nope. Sit on the blanket.” She sat down and I sat next to her. “It’s our anniversary, and I want to treat you like the queen you are. Hey now, don’t give me that face. You know I adore you, and I’m going to show it to you.”
“But darlin’, I want to tell you something.”
“I promise what ever it is, you can tell me in a minute. I just need to tell you sit there all pretty like and hear me out. Five years ago today I saw you at Upallnite Cafe, sipping that caramel macchiato…” I pull out the thermos of the same special coffee that she loves, and pour some into into a cup. “And I knew that you were the one for me. I walked up to you gave you a cheesy pickup line and asked to buy you a muffin.” I pull out the sushi I had her favorite Japanese restaurant make especially for our date. “’I’ve been muffin free for 6 months, but thanks.’ You said in the most wonderful voice I’ve ever heard. I laughed and apologized as you gestured for me to sit. We sat and talked for a few hours and you suggested this park. I was new to the area but would have went anywhere with you. We flirted a bunch and I took you in my arms and kissed you on this very spot. We’ve had so many memories, so many ups, so many downs. I just want to guarantee you’ll be with me for the rest of forever.” I pull out the ring and see her face, tears welling up. Her hands covering her mouth.”Sweetie, marry me. Make me the happiest.” My own voice quivering I see that the look of happiness had gone from her eyes, her face as pale as the vampires from shows she hated so much. I knew something was wrong. Maggie’s eyelids blinked a few times, and closed as she leaned backward. I picked her up, leaving our picnic blanket and every thing, and ran as fast as I could towards the entrance of the park. I wasn’t sure what was wrong, and I had wondered if this is what she was trying to tell me. If this is why she had been acting weird all day. Originally I had just thought that this was one of her off days. And now, walking as fast as I could through all the fallen trees I knew this was something more serious.
We had made it to the emergency room and they were examining her. They kicked me out into the waiting room to run tests. They said they would let me in, even though I wasn’t family, because I had shown them the ring and had explained what had happened before we made it to the hospital. I guess they felt bad for me.
After an hour of waiting I saw a solemn looking nurse walk towards me. Bracing myself for the worst but hoping for better I stand “Any news?”
“Mr. Cooper, her cancer is so advanced we aren’t sure she’ll make it through the night. We’ve moved her to a hospice room. I am so sorry. She is awake and has been asking for you.” She started walking to the elevators.
“She didn’t tell you? Oh my. Lung cancer, stage 4.”
“I… she hadn’t, maybe that’s what she had tried to…” I choked up.
“We’ve got a hold of her doctor, she hadn’t known about it very long. Very surprising she had gone so long unnoticed.” We rode in the elevator in silence.
The nurse pointed to the door, “She is still pretty weak.”
I walked in and pulled the chair up next to her bed and took a hold of her hand. I knew better to ask why she hadn’t told me sooner. I knew better to talk about anything else. I just sat there, with her hand in mine. My eyes linked to hers. Our heart beats in sync almost. We sat there for a while.
Maggie started to speak and I shook my head, not wanting her to waste her breath on a trivial thing. In defiance she opened her mouth again.
“Yes.” She said as she closed her eyes.