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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2087457
A husband recalls the day he fell in love with his wife
Picnic Memories

David laid his head on the pillow, sharing it with his wife. He kissed her daintily on the cheek, not wanting to wake her. He stared out the window, across a parking lot, long ago a field of grass and dandelions. He closed his eyes and breathed in her scent, slow and deep, allowing it to slip him back through time.

Mary, resting on her back on a blanket in the bright green grass, still soft with new growth, looked over at him and smiled that sly smile he'd later grow to hope for on a boring Saturday night. "I bet you can't find a rhinoceros," then she turned her bright eyes back to the sky."

"I'll take that bet," David laughed, knowing whether he found a rhino in the clouds or not, this was a day he'd remember. "Okay, there's Big Bird," pointing at a formation to their right.

"What? That's not Big Bird."

"Well, it was a second ago. You have to look faster."

"Whatever," she playfully swatted his pointing hand down. "Besides, that's not a rhino. Oh, but over there's a house with smoke coming out of the chimney." She pointed in a new direction.

He smiled widely, "I see it." He didn't, but he wanted to keep her happy. This was the best time he'd had in a long time. This beautiful girl, well, maybe not beautiful at first glance, though she wasn't homely by any means, but the more he looked at her, the more he talked to her, the more he pointed to those imaginary sky drawings, the more beautiful he realized she was. "I'll find my rhino...I see a three-legged monster."

"David!" She admonished.

He chuckled, embarrassed, "No, over there, Silly." He pointed to a cloud formation.

"Okay, you're lucky. That actually does look like a three-legged monster...or it did a second ago. It's too windy for this."

"No, that's what makes it fun. Otherwise we'd have to wait for hours for my rhino to appear," he teased playfully.

She laughed with him, a laugh that made the birds sing their mating calls just a little louder. She stretched out her arm and plucked a dandelion puff, then holding it directly in front of her, blew upward, making the dandelion seeds fly, then simply settle back to earth farther down the blanket, carried by the spring wind.

David gave her a look, letting her know she was in trouble. "You know, the dandelion gods will be angry." He sat up and started picking yellow dandelion flowers.

She sat up as well. "The dandelion gods are going to be mad at me? Look at you, killing their unborn children. At least I tried to set them free."

David continued to work hastily, then, showed her triumphantly, "I made you a mini crown of dandelions. This way you'll blend in and they won't see you." He laughed gently as he placed the chain of flowers on her head, bending close, trying to get a whiff of her gentle, clean scent. "Perfect."

"I feel right princessly, thank you."

"Well, your highness, then allow me to feed you some grapes." He opened the picnic basket, grateful that he'd selected the tender, sweet fruit as a portion of their snack. He pulled the cluster out and dangled them over her head, lowering them as she tilted her face skyward, carefully holding her crown in place with one hand.

"Delicious. These might be the best grapes I've ever had. And only part of that has to do with how I'm eating them," she said with another giggle. "Seriously, try some."

He pulled a few grapes from the bunch and popped one in his mouth. The burst of liquid sugar caught him off guard. "Wow, these are sweet!"

"Aren't they the best grapes you've ever had?"

"I do believe they are." He made a mental note to go back and get more, including a bunch for her. Perhaps he'd wrap a bow around the stem if it didn't look too corny. She made him want to be corny. He smiled, unknowingly.

"What are you smiling at?"

Catching himself, he tried to think of something. "I was wondering if they're as sweet as the honeysuckle we smell."

"Honeysuckle is one of my favorite smells. They smell so good, I just want to roll in them, like a dog, but with a good smell," again, that laugh that warmed him from the groin up.

"I know you said you weren't really hungry, so I packed light. I brought some cheese and crackers and some cucumber sandwiches, just in case. I also brought some sparkling cider." David pulled out two flutes and a largish dark green bottle. He opened the cider and poured the liquid and bubbles into the plastic glasses, then handed her one. He held his glass up and she followed suit. "To the best day of my life," he touched her glass with his and started to take a sip.

"Well, David, if this is the best day of your life, you'd best be getting a better life," she snarked with a smirk.

"I think I like my life just fine, thank you very much." He wished he had the nerve to kiss her. Perhaps at the end of the day, when he dropped her off at her house. Perhaps then, or perhaps not...David was always shy when it came to making moves on women. That was part of why he was still single. The other part? He was picky.

"I found my white rhino," David said. He pointed over her shoulder.

She turned around to see, "Where? There's no rhino."

"I saw its face, but I can't see it now."

"Mr. Jackson?"

David was snapped back to reality. He lifted his head and craned backward to see the nurse standing behind him.

"I just wanted you to know how much we've enjoyed having your wife here and that I'm very sorry. She won't be here much longer."

David nodded his head in understanding and rested it again on her pillow, taking another long, deep breath in through his nose.

That was the day they fell in love, at least he did. She'd follow suit at an agonizingly slow pace of a few weeks later. But he waited for the inevitable, as he did now.

Word Count--1057

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