What a ______ World -- Page 3Mature

“Ummm, okay … I don't know what to sing,” I signed as I dithered, thinking, looking around the room for inspiration. Rosa leaned against my chest with her hand pressed against my breastbone and her forehead resting right under my ear.

My thoughts floundered and sank, nothing coming to mind. Finally after a few moments, a song came to me, one of the golden oldies. I'd of course heard it on the radio lots of times, but what make me think of it was that I'd recently heard one of the teachers play it at the school where I worked part-time. And so, horribly off-key, I sang. I didn't sign as I sang since Rosa couldn't see my hands – she had her eyes closed now. “I see skies of blue, and clouds of white // The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night // And I think to myself // What a wonderful world.”

It certainly wasn't a wonderful world right now, in this apartment. I don't know if I thought I could somehow make things better by singing that particular song, or if I was trying to be ironic or facetious or some other smart-assed reason. I started in the middle of the song, since that was the verse that popped into my head. I just sang it and I didn't really know why.

I paused a moment, trying to remember how the rest of the song went, then chuffed a laugh again and threw my head back a little in exasperation, giving up. Whatever remnants of the lyrics I still had in my head weren't going to cooperate today. “It just figures that I'd pick a song that I can't finish AND I can't start.” I looked down at Rosa and wrapped my right arm more around her, all the way to her front, so I could have both hands visible to her. It would be a little awkward to sign that way since she was inside my arms, but I was trying to keep her in my hug. I tapped her arm, and then when I had her attention I said and signed, “You need to tell me to memorize more songs. I can't remember any of them!”

She laughed her breathy, quiet laugh at me that makes almost no sound but shakes her body, then turned to me and signed with a mock-stern look on her face, Ok, you need to memorize more songs.

I smiled back at her, happy to be distracting her from this terrible situation, but then realized that her body was still shaking slightly against mine and that her hand, now no longer signing, was gripping my arm uncomfortably tightly. I needed to do something else to distract her, but I didn't think I'd be successful trying to come up with a song again. She brushed my cheek with her other, free hand, and until she had brushed them off I hadn't realized there were tears running down my face as well. I glanced back over my shoulder as the other two officers who had been searching the bedroom walked into the kitchen, the talkative one glancing at us embracing on the floor before saying, “Nope,” to Officer Davis.

At this report I turned to give Officer Davis a flat look – which she returned – and hoped that she understood that I meant I-told-you-so. I was still thinking about what I could do to help distract Rosa, and she must have been thinking the same thing because she came to my rescue with a conversation starter. I looked down at her when she touched my cheek to get my attention.

Morgan …, she paused, still trembling from nerves and emotion she signed, would you ever think about marrying me?

I froze in shock and my face went blank. I didn't know how to respond. Here we were, both tear-streaked and shaking on the kitchen floor, surrounded by nearly a half dozen strange police officers, and she was talking about the M-word. My shoulders stiffened. Was this a proposal? How should I respond? What did I even want? I opened my mouth and then closed it again, feeling panicky again.

All this was going through my head when Rosa interrupted my thoughts hurriedly. I don't mean right now, no. This isn't a proposal, I just mean, I don't know. She tossed her head with a slightly embarrassed and frustrated expression on her face. I mean it as theoretical. I just want to know what you think about it maybe happening someday. She looked at me intently, like she hoped she could make the earnestness of what she said felt to me with that look alone.

I nodded and took a deep breath, trying to calm myself down. Of course she wasn't trying to propose to me, I thought, berating myself for being a fool and thinking that in the first place. I should be the one helping her and trying to calm her down, not the other way around, what with her house being raided by police and all. I pulled my arm to the inside of hers so I could focus my thoughts and sign properly, even though I wanted to keep my arms wrapped around her. I started signing hesitantly, uncertain. “Marriage … I don't know. I've avoided thinking about it wherever I can, really. You know I haven't had a very good experience with marriage,” I said/signed. I blinked, then suddenly even more unsure, “I … did tell you about that … didn't I?” I looked at Rosa intently, questioning.

The End

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