Forty Four: Alex
"Ale-kan-eka," I say slowly to Olivia.
"What in the world are you talking about?" She doesn't turn her attention from the apple she's peeling.
"Liv, be careful with that knife. Cut away from you," I say holding my drink steady as I climb onto the hammock.
"Thanks mom," she laughs at me and stops peeling until the sway of the hammock slows. "So what were you rambling on about?"
"I said, Alekaneka," I answer less broken than before. "It's my name in Hawaiian," I tell her. I thought it was interesting.
"Alek… uh, too hard," she says leaning back. We sit facing each other and I push our feet up to one another. Hers are at least a size or two bigger than mine. It always made her self conscious. I could tell but she never out right said it.
"Want to know your name?" I ask.
"Where did you learn all this?" She says looking around jokingly for the answer, "And where was I?"
"Oh quiet you. I was in the gift shop and you know, it has all those touristy things. They have little wooden mugs with peoples names carved out in them. The gift shop owner was talking to me and we were looking for yours but they didn't have it." I tell her. She looks up from her apple.
"You were going to get me one?" She laughs at me like I'm a huge nerd.
"No! No one ever buys those things. They just like to see if their name is there," I say in my defense.
"Don't huff about it. I'm just playing with you. So, what's my name?" She asks placing a piece of apple in her mouth. Now I feel stupid and I don't want to tell her. "Alekakakaka, just tell me!" I laugh at the face she makes when she says her made up word.
"Fine! And that's Ms. Alekakaka to you! Otherwise known as Alekaneka! You're name is Oliwia," I say laughing. I know how silly it sounds. Olivia spits out part of her apple.
"Ha ha! What am I two? Don't look so embarrassed, it's not like you named me that," she laughs and leans over the hammock to put the last half of her apple and her knife on the near by table.
"It's our last night here," I say turning serious. I would give anything to stay forever. I scrunch my toes against her feet and she sighs.
"I know, but we had a good run right?" She answers with a smile. She looks away, as if to think. "We saw a lot of things, met some odd people, got free drinks at that tiki bar because the bar tender wanted you to marry him," she says with a smile.
"Oh he was bad, wasn't he? He just didn't get it!" I say remembering the 200 pound smitten, Hawaiian man. "He kept calling me island princess. I wonder how many times he's used that on people!"
"Maybe you should have told him to call you Princess Alekaneka!" Olivia jokes and I frown at her but the frown can't linger long. She's gotten such a tan since we've been here. Her skin is like bronze and the sun has cast highlights in her hair. She's simply gorgeous and she doesn't even know. "Alex? I mean, Alekaneka, are you there?"
"Shut up!" I say. "Did anyone ever give you weird nick names as a kid?" I wonder aloud.
"Um, I'm sure they did. What was one?" She stopped to think. "Duma."
"Wow where did that come from?"
"I was on the track team and I was their fastest runner. 'Duma' means cheetah in African. My friend Stella gave that to me. She was obsessed with African culture," Olivia smiled softly at the memory. "What about you? What's the damage?" One thing crossed my mind.
"Kids used to make fun of me at school. They used to say I was a snot and I thought I was better than everyone else. Kids who get all A's always get heat for it," I half laughed. "They used to call me Alexander. They would say, 'if you think you're so great why don't we use your manly title'. I hated it but I never let on. I was good at hiding how I felt. I just used to get revenge instead." Olivia's eyes never left my face. The intensity emanating from them was something only I could read. I knew that now. I knew that this woman's eyes would never leave my face. She had proved herself over and over. I love her so much. I release my childhood memory and turn my attention to her.
"They say kids are cruel," she states flatly. "You're better than that though."
"Liv," our conversation fast becomes serious. Thoughts that have been floating around in my head all week finally find place to come out now. "You've done so much for me. I never expected it. I wanted to be part of your life for so long… then I almost threw that away once I had it. But no matter how stubborn I was, or how much I drove you crazy… you always came back for me." She sat up to listen closely to my words. We sat Indian style facing each other as I held her cheeks in my hands. I searched her face for some response but she is very still for a moment. It almost scares me.
"Alex," she says inside a whisper. A tear rolls silently down her cheek and over my fingers. "you are great. Every choice you make and every thing you do; it's powerful. You are a powerful woman. You are strong and you are brave and I can't help but love those things about you. Nobody is perfect and life isn't perfect… otherwise I would have made sure no one ever hurt you. I know I can't change what happened, and I couldn't have done anything different but that was the past. It's over… and you're still sitting in front of me and you have no idea what that means to me." For a moment I'm taken aback by her words. I don't know what to say. She smiles sweetly and takes both my hands, lacing our fingers together. My heart is pounding.
"I love you for every moment you ever spent on me," I look down at our hands.
"You can't face the world alone," she says softly. "That's the only thing that will weaken you… trying to do it all, without help." She lets go of one of my hands and I look up as she reaches down into her bag. "See that sunset?" she asks, rummaging through the disorganized sack.
"Yeah, it's our last one," I tell her, wiping a tear with my free hand.
"I hope," she starts, sitting back up… a silver jewelers box in her hand, "that it can be the first. This is the last night of our vacation but… we have a life in New York… with many more sunsets. I don't care if the skies are cloudy, or they are orange and pink, or they are as grey as the sidewalks…" My heart is racing wildly and I cover my mouth with my hand as she opens the box. "I want to watch them all with you… forever." She peels the ring from the box and holds it out to my hand. "My Alexandra the great… will you marry me?" Her voice shaking, her hands unsteady, I can see her dying for my answer but my voice is lost… so I nod. Tears of pure happiness, joy, relief, everything fall from my eyes. I can't believe it. I just can't believe it.
"Oh God," I say as the ring slides over my finger. I throw my arms around her and kiss her hard; my tears dampening our cheeks. She wipes them away. "I love you so much Olivia."
"I'm just glad you said yes," she jokes to relieve her tension.
"Of course, of course!" I laugh and I cry holding her tightly.
I never knew that working for the Special Victims Unit would ever affect me in such a positive way. I have Olivia. Now, I have her forever… and I'm okay with that. I'm more than okay. Being a woman, working her way through a man's world I was always so scared of what people could use against me that would bring me down. Olivia may think so, but I'm not Alexandra the Great. I'm just Alex… but right now, I do feel on top of the world… and I think I will, for a very, very long time.