Chapter 3: The Leap
Before long, the boy and the girl made it to the cliffs. The girl did not ask about the motor boat sitting on shore. They pulled their kayak out of the water and stepped onto the mossy bank. The boy whispered something to the girl and then squeezed her hand. She followed him with a question mark look on her face as they climbed the rough stone.
As they came to crest, the girl saw something. “Someone’s sleeping here!” She ducked and started to turn back down the hill. The boy pulled her up. “It’s for you.”
At the top of the cliff, there was a red and white checkered blanket spread out across the rocks with an old brown basket and a bouquet of roses on it. The girl looked up at the boy in delight and disbelief. “For me?” He nodded and then she pulled him close and hugged him.
The two sat down on the blanket and looked out at the lake. The water was so very calm that it reflected the mountains and the sky like a mirror. The boy, though, was not calm at all. His mind raced and his hands were still sweaty. This was the very moment, the moment he would remember forever, the moment which would become this story.
The girl poured him a glass of bubbly cider and gave it to him. His hand shook as he tried to take a drink of it. She asked him if he were all right. The boy told a fib. “I must be hungry.”
They opened up the brown basket and it was filled with apples and kiwis and muffins which the girl ate, but the boy just nibbled on. It was time.
He leaned over and took the bouquet of roses in his hand. There were eleven red roses and one white rose. The white rose wasn’t snow white; it actually looked like it came out of an old photograph, almost like an antique, and it sat right in the middle. He took one red rose out of the bouquet and handed it to the girl.
“This is for our very first guitar lesson.” She smiled and thought about the time the boy came over to give her a guitar book and how he liked her even back then. He handed her the second rose.
“This is for our first phone call, when the computer wouldn’t work.” She smiled and thought about how much they tried to get the computer working. She wondered now if he had really tried that hard.
“This,” he handed her the third rose, “is for coma girl.” She laughed. Before the girl and boy started dating, he used to call her ‘coma girl’ because she always yawned and was always sleepy. She knew, of course, that he liked her and was only saying it because that’s what a boy does when he likes a girl – he teases her. He held out the fourth rose.
“This is for the blue tongue.” She laughed again. On their very first date in the big city, the boy had eaten blueberry ice that made his lips and tongue blue. She thought about the antique store, about the big metal statues, about the restaurant with the big blue door where they washed your hands before you ate.
“The hills.” He smiled and handed her the fifth rose. Way back behind the girls house, through the woods along a path lined with daisies and Queen Anne’s lace, lies a beautiful rolling field with grass as green as emeralds. When the girl was home from college on Easter vacation, they walked together through the hills, when the sunset was making everything golden orange.
The next rose was for the time they visited the mansion on the hill. Sitting on the hill outside the mansion, they looked down at the farms and orchards. The boy told the girl that he would very much like to be her boyfriend, if her parents agreed to it. She said she would like that very much.
Rose number seven. The perfect number for the perfect day. They had both gone to the park to walk by the lake. When they got to the park, they found great big piles of sand scattered all along the shore. So the two spent the day jumping from sand piles and pushing each other into the water. He handed her the next rose before she could remember that he lost his wallet that day.
This rose was a very special rose. This was for the day he asked her to be his girlfriend. They were walking across town, looking up at the few stars that were visible through the streetlights. He stopped in the middle of a parking lot and shuffled his feet. Not a very romantic place to ask such a question, but he asked anyway.
He pulled the ninth rose from the bouquet and put it in her hands. Then he touched her hand. “This is for the porch swing.” She blushed. The very first time he held her hand, they had been swinging on the porch swing.
The tenth rose was for the park where they skipped stones and stepped in mud up to their ankles. The girl was so sweet that she even brought sandwich cookies and milk to enjoy alongside the stream.
Rose eleven had more thorns that the other roses did, and the petals had brown near the edges. The boy thought back on their first fight. Neither of them could even remember what it was about, but they both looked at each other through watery eyes. That was the day they learned how important “sorry” is.
The boy took the final rose and held it up. He quietly handed it to the girl. “What is this rose for?” She looked at him and still didn’t know.
“For the memory we’re about to make.” He knelt down and pulled a velvet green box from his pocket. “Jessica Marie Clum—“
She did not move, just stared, mouth open at the boy.
“Will you marry me?”
She blinked a few times, pulled at a rose petal, mouth still open.
Not sure she heard him, the boy said again, “I want you to be my wife.”
Shaking herself from shock, she smiled and blinked a few more times. Then, surprise of all surprises, she said yes! The girl he loved so much just said yes, she wanted to marry him! He slipped the ring on her finger and told her all of the things that he had been keeping secret for so long—about how sly he had been, about her parent’s sneakiness, about the ring and about the motor boat that would take them back across the lake.
And just as the sun broke through the morning clouds, the boy and the girl kissed for the very first time high atop the cliffs alongside the lake in that great big place called Maine, the very same place where the boy left his girlfriend, and brought home a fiancée.
Once upon a time there was a very happy boy…