‘Charlotte! Come down dear. It’s time to leave!’
‘Coming mother!’ I replied.
I was in a black dress. I stared at the two items in my hands. One was a photo of David. He had worn upon his face a comical expression. His light brown hair was a mess as always and his light blue eyes shone. I had taken this photo of him the day before that dreadful day. It was the day before the car crash that had torn our lives apart.
David was the love of my life. We were high-school sweethearts. Come to think of it, one would only expect this type of story to appear only in the movies. However, it was true.
We were engaged. He had asked me to marry him twice. The first time was while we were just in high-school. It was a cool summer’s day. We were sitting in a park under our tree – an old oak tree. We had carved into it D+C in a heart. My head was resting on his shoulder. I was wearing blue capris and a red t-shirt – I was a tomboy back then and I was different from all the other girls with their prissy and proper manners. I guess that is what endeared me to David. He always looked for something different in people. He identified them for their virtues and not their appearances. That was what made him so popular with people. Of course he was good looking and he was really smart but it was his personality and humility that endeared him to those around him.
He was wearing a checked shirt and baggy brown shorts. We just sat there in silence. Until he pulled away and looked me in the eyes when I turned my head in his direction to ask him what the matter was. He told me to stand up and I did. He remained with one knee on the ground. I clearly remember the words he spoke:
‘Charlotte Edward Rebecca Irwin, will you be my love, my pain, my joy, my sorrow and above all, will you be my travelling companion on the road of life?’
I was stunned but I managed to stutter a yes. He pulled a long blade of grass from the earth and he tied it around my ring finger. I did the same in return and we kissed until my little brother Matthew came running up and started singing, ‘Charlotte and David sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-‘
David stopped him by picking him and putting him on his shoulders. I was left laughing as he gave Matty a piggy back ride around the park. I kept that grass ring until the day he asked me for the second time.
I still remember that day. We were sitting at one of the many outdoor tables of our favourite café. I was having a lemonade and he was having a chocolate milkshake. He kept looking at me and when I met his gaze he shifted his either staring at his feet or the Golden Retriever which was curled up at the feet of an old man at a nearby table.
I was wearing a short floral dress and he was wearing jeans and a smart t-shirt. He had finished his milkshake yet he was still sipping from the straw, making slurping noises (He later told me that he was really nervous and he was trying to get over his anxiety). Then he got up and knelt to the ground, pulled out a ring and he said:
‘Charlotte Edward Rebecca Irwin, will you be my love, my pain, my joy, my sorrow and above all, will you be my companion for the rest of my life?’
I was a teenager again. The birds were singing and the squirrels were hoping about. The sun shone brightly and our tree swayed gently in the breeze. However, now people from the other tables were smiling and looking in our direction. Even the Retriever had his tongue hanging out and was apparently smiling. The waiters stood in their spots and a silence had descended across the world. Even passers-by were milling around and looking at us.
‘Come on Chérie,’ he said. It was an abbreviation of my name as well as the French word for dear. ‘I haven’t got all day and plus my knee is aching and my heart is threatening to tear through my chest at the rate it’s beating!’
I smiled and said, ‘Yes. Yes I will marry you David Lewis Anderson.’
He stood up, put the ring on my finger and kissed me. My heart beat so fast and I could feel his heart too. Everyone around was clapping and cheering. The dog barked and one man even shouted: ‘Jolly good old chap! Now get ready for a life of lovable misery!’ His comment was met with laughter and we smiled at everyone and thanked them.
My mom was overjoyed when she heard the news. So was my father. My father put on my favourite song Can’t Take My Eyes Off You by Frank Sinatra and he danced with me across the entire length and breadth of the living room. My mother stood by the door and smiled with tears of joy appearing in her eyes.
I then looked away from the photograph of my love and turned to the second item. It was the love letter that he had first sent me. He was an amazing writer and I had cherished that letter since the moment I first read it. I opened it and began reading.
I remember the first moment I saw you. You were sitting by yourself at one of the many tables in our school cafeteria. You were eating and reading Les Misérables simultaneously. You had on a deep grey hoodie and you were wearing jeans. Your blue sling bag hung from the corner of your chair. Your wavy brown hair was tied in a pony tail. You were gently feeling the scar on your left cheek where you had hurt yourself the day before while skateboarding. I walked up to you and I asked you if I could sit with you. You said I could and that was the beginning of a lifelong journey.
Others would think and comment that I was stupid. They said that I could have any of the most hot and popular girls like Scarlet Greyson but I knew that I had made the right decision. You were and are perfect. Once you asked me why I liked you. At the time I said that it was because you were beautiful but now I know you and because of you, I have discovered myself. That response was shallow. So here I tell you the real reason. It’s the little things. Your hair is stunning yet subtle. Your eyes shine brighter than the stars. Your smile restarts every day of mine and your laugh is music to my ears. You are caring and smart. You are different. You are who you are. You don’t try to be who you are not. I like you for all your imperfections. You don’t try to hide them and that is what I love about you.
If I were to write everything there is to say then I would end up writing novels. I want this letter to be perfect and I’ve tried my best. I want to thank you as well. You’ve been there by my side every day. You make my day every time I see you. I could go on about how you’re my sun and all but that would be so cliché so one thing I will say is: You never truly understand love until you get to know someone but you never know if it is love until you find yourself being nervous around them and then again you never know how to love until you end up spending every second of your life with them,
And I know I love you,
Tears had developed in the corners of my eyes.
‘I love you too David,’ I whispered as I clutched the letter to my chest and started sobbing. It was painful. I missed him so badly. I wanted to kill myself just to be with him. Life was no longer worth living when there is nothing left to love.
I sat there on my bed, sobbing for what seemed like eternity until my mother called out to me again:
‘Charlotte dear! Come on down. We have to be the first to reach.’
I screamed back at her, ‘First to be there? What the hell is that? He’s already gone! It’s absolutely no use! He’s gone! He’s gone….’
I broke down again as she came rushing up and she lay my head on her lap. She stroked my hair as I cried into her dress.
‘Shush now ma chérie. Calm down.’
‘I love him…I love him..’