“Do you remember the first time I said I love you?”
She leaned over and rested her head on her arms, smiling at him.
He was half-asleep of course, she shouldn’t be trying to get any reaction out of him now. She may as well ask if she should look into getting a new dress or do her hair differently.
She waited for more, but the rhythmic phuu phuu of air signalled that he had gone back to sleep.
She thought of all the places they had been where she could have said that she loved him. Walking hand in hand through a food market, laughing over how they both loved the same sort of intricately silly tomatoes. There was a moment, as he smiled at her, and she looked up, eyes wide. Perfect.
But I wanted you to say it, to realise how perfect a moment that was, how we could tell our grandchildren about it – “Oak smoked? No way!” – but you didn’t. So I didn’t.
Instead it was over honey. I’d gone to look at a bee stall at that fair and got talking to the lady there for too long. I ended up buying a jar of honey from the park; almost luminous, yellow and green.
I looked up, hoping to see you looking at me indulgently, admiring my enthusiasm for all things. “But you don’t need to impress me,” you said, later on. And it occurred to me that this had never occurred to me before. And I felt at peace and loved and like I knew where I stood, which was all I’d really wanted to know, and which I could only sort of see for myself.
And that night after you’d kissed me and curled into me, I felt you drift off and whispered almost under my breath. And just as you went to sleep, you said it too.