How about a short check-in with Sean and Eloisa? This snippet was part of a short story that I had been writing on and off until I realized that I didn’t know what I was doing. But I couldn’t resist having a story from Sean’s point of view, and I thought I’d bring you guys something hopeful in the face of all the chaos that we’ve been slogging through this year.
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We were both working at the same job, a golden wedding anniversary at the Orient Hotel where we had our first dance. We were both underdressed–her in her work clothes, and me in khakis and a flannel shirt with loafers–so we stayed in the sidelines while the guests of honor worked the room.
She leaned on my shoulder. “Look at them. Fifty years and they’ve still got it for each other.”
“I know.” My camera equipment was at the edge of the dance floor, where I was going to shoot the program. “Remember when I asked you if you were going to do the cake for Hazel and Vinny’s golden wedding anniversary?”
“I remember that. And I was kind of worried that they weren’t going to make it.”
The cake that the family commissioned for the party occupied prime real estate in the ballrooom–white on white, with the signature flourishes that made Eloisa a favorite in certain circles. I kissed her temple while we admired her handiwork. “Hazel’s having a girl, you know. I got that from Tita Rosemarie.”
“Shit. Vinny’s going to spoil the hell out of that princess.”
The happy couple held hands while making their way through the tables.They gazed at each other with awe and happiness, as if they were proud they were of how far they’d come along through the years.
“Eloisa, do you think we’re going to make it to that stage?”
The look in her eyes was wistful. “You mean, like, fifty years together?”
“Maybe longer than that.” I took her hand in mine. “Like, I can see us back in this ballroom, with our families and closest friends, and we’d still be dancing and holding hands like time hasn’t passed.”
“Except that time has passed. Like we’ve had fifty years of experience with each other, like we’ve lived through each other’s bullshit.”
Right away I knew what she meant. “Like taking care of the kids.”
“Yes. I want us to be hands-on. No yaya.”
“I’ll bring them to school and pick them up from soccer practice.”
“No way. They’ll want to be at the café where Neri can teach them how to make carbonara.”
“They can be whoever they want, Eloisa.” There were kids inside the ballroom, but they were lined up in front of an ice cream cart that had been rented for the occasion. “Who’s going to do the housework?”
She tapped her foot against my toe. “I was going to say we should get a maid, but I don’t think we’ll have the budget for it.”
“So we’ll both vacuum the floors and wash the dishes.”
“And laundry. Don’t forget laundry.”
I rocked her in my arms. “Let’s get a washing machine. I separate my whites from my colors.”
“And I hand-wash all my delicates. No bras and panties in the dryer.”
God, the way she said “bras and panties” made my thoughts go wild. “You can live with me.”
“You know I want to, Sean.”
Usually that statement would have been followed by a discussion on why she couldn’t move out of her family home, but this time I understood the gravity of the situation. Eloisa had a home for most of her life, and the love of her family had carried her through the toughest times. Meanwhile, Mom and I hadn’t been the same since Papa died, and I’d been on my own long enough to know that I could support myself.
But the more time I spent with Eloisa, the more I dreaded going home to that dark and empty apartment on my own. And I didn’t just want her body in my bed; I wanted home-cooked dinners and movie nights and long talks that stretched into the night. Some nights I wanted us to have dumb fights about nothing so I could figure out what she’s thinking most of the time.
I didn’t just love her with all my heart. I wanted her with me forever.
And as I held her hand while watching the banquet before us, I knew exactly what I had to do.
Because she was worth it.