Give Me a Smile
by Ariana Dowdican
“Hey, babe. Can you give me a smile?”
She turns to me, smiling warmly, albeit a little confused. I love her smile, so much. I love everything about when she smiles, from the crinkling around her eyes, whether she closes them or keeps them open through small slits, and the little crookedness of her teeth and rough edges. She’s always so insecure about her teeth and sometimes smiles close-lipped, which is another reason I love her smile. She feels so calm with me that she can show me her biggest insecurity, without hesitation, and know that I will still find her absolutely beautiful.
After letting me soak in the sunshine that she’s blessed me with for a couple of moments, she questions me, “Not that I don’t love smiling for you, I just want to know, why?”
“No reason, I just wanted to see you smile.” I chuckle.
“Whatever, weirdo.” She laughs back.
I close the door a little too harsh and wince. Today has been a pretty rough day. I tried to cool down on the walk home, not wanting to worry her, but I guess I didn’t cool down enough. From her spot on the couch, she turns around. She looks as if she was going to welcome me home, but the words die on her tongue as soon as her eyes settle on my downtrodden expression.
I raise my hand to keep her from standing up from the couch, silently setting down my belongings and making my way to her. The moment my body touches the couch, her hands are immediately in my hair, raking my bangs backward and massaging my scalp with her nails. No words are spoken, and I’m grateful for that.
Sighing, I look up from my lap after an immeasurable amount of time. We could have been there for five seconds or five minutes, I wouldn’t know. But finally, I raise my gaze towards her face. “Can you smile for me?”
Again, confusion sinks into those beautiful brown eyes of hers, but like always, she doesn’t deny me my request. This smile, still as beautiful as before, somehow makes me more emotional and breaks the gates holding back my emotions. Maybe it’s the concern laced in her features, along with her not even knowing why I feel this way, or the way she drops what she’s doing to just sit with me and make me feel better, but I start to cry.
It’s not like a dam breaking, just a couple tears escaping a few at a time, but the more drops that escape down my cheeks, the more fond her smile becomes.
I can feel her cheeks rise as she smiles under my hands, which are covering her eyes. She’s been trying to get me to reveal where we are going but the more she guesses, and the more I shoot down, the more outlandish her guesses become. This, in turn, starts making both of us laugh, and hearing the other makes us start laughing even more.
She takes a deep breath, trying to settle just enough to manage to get out a couple of words, but what comes out sounds more like stuttering than actual talking. “Is-is it,” she pauses as a couple more giggles escape, “is it a strip club?” Her voice raises a bit like she’s confident in this guess.
That sets us off once again, my hands nearly slipping from her face in my attempt not to keel over in laughter. She seemed way too excited, whether about the guess or my slip-up, I don’t know, but I quickly corrected myself so she didn’t get a hint of where we were headed.
“Oh, come on,” she whines. Her impatience is starting to get the best of her, which can be entertaining on its own, but I know that I need to hurry to our destination before she just gives up and tears my hands away from her face.
Speeding along, I see the woods approaching faster, probably because now we’re not stopping every few seconds to bust a gut laughing. I lead us towards the little bit of light visible from the outline of the trees-you probably wouldn’t even see it unless you knew what to look for, and, luckily, I do.
We stop in the middle of the lights. “We’re here!” She rips my hands from her face, though not as rough as I was imagining considering how much I was testing her patience. The moment those dark chocolate eyes are released, she gasps.
I spent a couple of hours, with the help of a few friends, setting up this little patch in the woods. To our left, there’s a little pond, shining in the reflection of all the Christmas lights we strung up. Everything glows with a magical vibe. There’s a small space a couple of feet in front of us that’s just blankets and pillows and orbs a little smaller than volleyballs that light up near the blanket area, perfect for reading a light novel.
Slowly, she turns to me, eyes wide and hands covering her mouth. I smile because this is just a precursor to the next surprise I have planned for her.
I pull her hands down from her face, smiling at her shock-filled face. I intertwine our fingers and speak to her in a low tone. “I know this already seems like a big enough surprise to you, but I have one more thing. First, can I see that beautiful smile of yours?”
She lets out a small gasp, obviously even more shocked by the news of more to come, but the ends of her lips lift up, her whole face abandoning her previously surprised expression. “That’s more like it.” She laughs slightly, copying my tone.
I take in one deep breath, closing my eyes, psyching myself up.
“Okay,” I say to myself, “you can do this.” Steadily, I lower myself, getting about face-level with her stomach. The big tell is how I stay up on only one knee. Tears prickle in the corners of my eyes already and I haven’t even said anything yet.
“Brielle Ann Stratt,” I start, working the both of us up to tears, reaching into my jacket pocket for the box I’ve been hiding for a couple of months, “I’ve already said this more than a million times and it never seems to be enough for me—I love you, I love expressing my love to you. Nothing I’ve done has ever gotten close to telling you, for real, just how much I love you. But I think I’ve finally found the perfect way. I’ve been planning this night for longer than I care to admit. But I do want you to know that I’ve loved you for far longer than the first time I’ve said it. Every day you make me love you more and more, making me struggle to catch up to express all the love I have for you—what I’m about to say is the closest thing. I love you more than you can ever know and I plan to show you this every day for the rest of our lives, which brings me to this—Brielle Ann Stratt, I love you more than words can imagine. Will you do me the honor of marrying me and allowing me to show you just how much I truly love you for the rest of our days?”
Opening up the little black box that seemingly appears in my hand seems to have broken the dam of her tear ducts as she immediately starts bawling, making her beautiful dark brown eyes become shiny and increasingly more adoring. Her gorgeous bright smile makes a return and makes its home upon her lips. Speechless, she only nods, starting out slowly, but gradually picking up speed. I jump to my feet and wrap her in a hug, holding her head into the junction where my neck and shoulder meets and letting her catch her breath. “I love you, too,” she whispers. She pulls back only for a moment to let me place the ring on her finger. As soon as it takes its rightful place, she sticks back to me like glue.
We could be here for five minutes, or five hours, all I know is that here she is, in my arms, with a ring on her finger and warmth in the both of our hearts, and we know that we are the happiest we have ever been and are ready to be the happiest we’ll ever be. No matter what comes by, we’ll know that we will be by each other’s sides and take on the world together.
Just before the final “I do’s,” I look the love of my life in her eyes and whisper to her “Give me a smile?” And, as per usual, she smiles without hesitation, showing every bit of that happiness that I love. Finally, after what seemed like years, the priest says we can kiss, and we both seize forward for our first kiss as a married couple. It’s different from any other kiss we’ve shared—the most mesmerizing.
Author: Ariana Dowdican
Major: Elementary Education