Maria sat in stunned silence. He had just proposed to her, this man she’d met two months ago. This man who was nothing like her.
She was a delightful extrovert, loving people and dogs and yes, trees. She hugged trees. Ray was an introvert, a biologist who stuck his head toward test tubes while she danced the hours away, literally, in her dance studio.
Ray looked like what he was – a dork. Dare she use such a perverse word? But he wore wire-rimmed glasses, mostly halfway down his nose, and his light blue eyes often gazed past her and into a universe she’d never entered. He wore button down plaid shirts, consistently, and she’d never seen him in a pair of blue jeans. Pressed black or gray pants, always.
Maria was, well, she was beautiful. Everyone said so. Lithe and graceful, long wavy black hair framing mocha skinned perfection. Don’t laugh (she said, laughing at herself). Her last boyfriend quoted that to her once – that she was mocha-skinned perfection. He felt free to say that; he was cappuccino. But Ray. Ray was as white as a daisy. Sometimes she wondered if he ever sat in the sun. But no, how could he, he was always in the MIT laboratory, when he wasn’t teaching 20-year-old geniuses.
He was a genius himself. He used his brain. She used her body. But if he was such a smarty, how’d he decide in eight weeks that they should pair? She was strawberry. He was asparagus. Yes, that was it. She was a fruit, he was a vegetable.
Ray was still on one knee in front of their table at The Capitol Grill. That was another thing. He ate meat. She was a vegetarian.
Maria pulled Ray up and gently pushed him back in his chair. Her salad had been barely touched, and uncharacteristically, neither had Ray’s filet. He grabbed her hand and massaged it gently as if touching a rare object.
He whispered, “Without you, I wouldn’t have been so aware of the frightening swiftness of the passage of time.” His eyes teared up as he brought her fingers to his mouth and kissed each one. “Say yes.”
Maria took in a deep breath. Probed the inside of herself, the gut and the heart and the spot between her eyes. Then in one loud exhale she whispered. . . .
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