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I Remember Now
Prompt: One Tree Hill – "Suddenly Everything Has Changed"
There is a moment in every budding relationship where everything changes. The balance shifts, the stars align and clarity rains down like manna from the heavens. Poetic, maybe. But no less true.
But somewhere along life's well-travelled highway, I'd forgotten some of the basics regarding the rules of love. But, Emily Prentiss gave me an excellent refresher course.
Especially the day our balance shifted.
It happened quite by surprise, actually, sitting in the sunshine that hot, humid August day. After Haley's death, Emily and I had began to spend more and more time together, so gradually that neither of us had realized how entwined our lives had become. At least, I hadn't.
Emily…she was more perceptive. Far more perceptive.
But there in the park as we watched my son happily play, winding his way slowly over the monkey bars, I'd turned to say something. What, I couldn't remember. Some inane question always seemed to be flowing past my lips. At any rate, as she had stared back at me, the sunlight bouncing off her raven locks, I'd realized that I loved her. It had occurred so quickly, that instant of clarity.
I'd forgotten how love could sneak up on you, landing its deadly blow squarely in the center of your back and taking away your equilibrium. That quickly, there'd been a subtle power shift. Suddenly, this wasn't just the woman that I counted as my closest friend and confidante…she was so much more than that. She was then the person that I wanted to know my innermost thoughts…the wonderful person I could trust with my darkest secrets. The individual who I wanted to open my eyes to and greet each new day with…and the one that I wanted to send into slumber every eve with a soft smile blanketing her face.
My heart must have been in my eyes that long ago afternoon that realization had crept into my conscience, making me aware that she had stolen my heart. My breath had caught uncharacteristically in my throat and my heart had been pounding when she'd whispered a simple, yet simultaneously thoroughly complicated question of, "What is it?"
Another of amour's unique lessons that I'd forgotten in the intervening years since the love bug's last bite was what a bumbling fool it could make of normally rational men. I had formerly prided myself on my eloquence and articulation in the face of any situation, but staring into Emily's dark, open eyes, I had been lost. How could I begin to verbalize those emotions coursing through me that even I didn't understand?
Sitting there beside her on that hard park bench as the birds chirped overhead and the strains of children's innocent laughter wafted over us, I'd fumbled incoherently for a moment, starting then stopping mid-word. I had not been the silver-tongued orator of the courtroom that day, every skill I'd learned in law school vanishing into thin air.
And, as ever, Emily's intense, merciful kindness had shined like a beacon in the night when she'd covered my hand and softly whispered, "Aaron, it's okay. You can tell me anything."
The sincerity in those words had pierced me, rendering me speechless for a few more moments than I like to admit. Something about the feel of her soft hand resting against mine gave me courage, injected me with a bravado that I didn't know I had. Love will do that to you…give you strength that you weren't aware that you possessed.
"I'm in love with you," I told her then, unexpectedly, unable to couch my words as they spilled off my lips.
Her eyes had widened slightly, luminous in the bright glare of the afternoon sun. "Y-you're sure?" she'd asked me, her voice shaking slightly as a child had run giggling past our bench.
That was another thing about love….it could blindside you. But an admission of love could knock the recipient of your affection off their game, too. Much as it did my Emily.
"I'm positive," I said, slowly leaning forward to brush my lips against hers, that simple action bathed in a desperation that I hadn't known before.
Did I mention that the fireworks that all the great authors write about are entirely true? At least for me they were, their overwhelming spark igniting the synapses of my mind as we connected…connected completely for the very first time.
As we'd broken apart, the sound of a dog barking distracting us, she'd smiled at me. "I love you, too," she had whispered through smudged lips, those simple words the sweetest I had ever heard.
And I must admit, I'd forgotten the single most important thing about love. I'd forgotten how wonderful it felt when it was returned to you.
But I remember now.