A short sublime tableau.
|The streamline crowd of a hundred or so people shuffled from the building where they had just heard an hour of the college symphony.
John stood outside under the rotunda that jutted from the south side of the union building. The fountain area, the main gathering place for the small commuter college, was broodishly lit by the orange sodium security lights. It gave a look of warmth to the evening that was already abnormally temperate for February in Indiana.
John took a drag off his cigarette and leaned against one of the red brick support columns. The smoke left his nostrils in wisps and evaporated into the balmy evening. He looked at the horizon of the small Midwestern town and enjoyed the reflected light on the low hanging cloud cover. The buildings in the downtown area echoed the city's sound and the small town seemed lushly alive.
John turned as he heard voices emerging from the glass doors of the front of the union. It was Jana and her conductor Ben. They were gushing and still complementing themselves over the evening's performance. John caught Jana's eye from the distance and she excitedly waved. John enjoyed the short moment of seeing her from a distance as if looking at a beautiful stranger. Her gown and perfect blond hair and her bright illuminating smile made John shiver for the first time that night. What the weather hadn't done, the vision of Jana had.
Jana quickly complemented Ben again on his masterful leadership and gave him a quick hug. The crushed velvet of her black dress rubbed loudly against his tuxedo. She gave him a peck on the cheek and a strong quick hug around the neck and began heading toward John.
John gave a warm smile as the beautiful lady crossed to him. He met her half way so he could take the burden of the french horn she carried. Now that they were together the spoke in hushed loving voices. Her excitement came through as she pelted him with queries on his thoughts and criticisms and overall view of the evening's performance.
John couldn't help but smile at her childlike fervor, her look for acceptance and validation. John could do nothing but give her what she wanted.
It hadn't always been this way. With no clear specific memory, John sensed that things had definitely changed. Being close to Jana at a point in their relationship had made him feel small. Jana had always been her wonderful, energetic self. John had been along for the ride.
He had never felt worthy. Nothing seemed to mesh with them in their personalities other than the fact they truly respected and adored each other
The short walk ended at the car and he gladly opened the door for her. She slid into the front seat gingerly, protecting her dress and instantly leaned over to unlock his door. John mentally noted the small gesture. Even at that moment, on her night, when her star was shining brightest and the conversation was focused completely on her, she had enough thought for John to do even the simple gesture of unlocking the door. It amazed John how complete she was. She was instinctually good; always knowing the exact thing to do in any given circumstance. John suffered to be pleasant with his quiet withdrawn nature.
When John had closed the door he paused a moment to take her beauty in. She looked at him with a soft smile. He leaned in,caressed her cheek and held her face. He lightly nibbled at her bottom lip and whispered to her how wonderful she had been. He loved just the simple act of complementing her. She was the only person he felt comfortable openly praising.
"You were wonderful. I love watching you perform. You are meant to play. I love to watch your eyes follow the conductor and the notes. I love to watch your fingers press the keys."
At that he lifted her hands, pressed them together and gently kissed them. He felt her weight as she leaned to kiss the top of his head.
"Been thinking more about the future?" Jana's voice broke the long silence.
John closed his eyes tightly. His body shrank.
"Jana...." He couldn't find the words.
"Shh...it's ok...." Jana ran her fingers through his hair. "Let's get something to eat."
John again appreciated her for not pushing the point. He couldn't love this woman any more, why could he not just give her the only thing she truly desired. Disappointing Jana was death, but she resurrected him with her unwavering patience. She never cried, never screamed, never left.
John composed himself, sat up, and started the car. He couldn't come to look directly at Jana, but ever the comforter, Jana's hand found his knee, and she transferred some of her good cheer just by her simple touch.
John was feeling better as they pulled up to only restaurant open 24 hours on that end of town. John made sure he opened her car door. A chill had permeated the air. John felt her shiver as he wrapped his arm around her shoulders.
"Think they make dresses like this so men have to wrap their arms around their ladies?"
Jana chuckled. "I think so."
John laughed and gripped her into a hug. She laughed.
At that moment in time, as they walked from the parking lot, everything clicked together. The feel of his tuxedo, the wonderful airy scent of Jana's perfume, her skin and hair, the warmth of her hand as she clasped his, the lingering emotions of the quite beautiful music that he had just heard. John just stopped and hugged her until his arms melted into her and they were one. It was a beautiful evening and there with this beautiful, talented, intelligent, powerful, uplifting, simply glowing woman he heard himself whisper,
"...Jana, I love you so very much, and here.....tonight....I want you to be....my wife."