A Time to Listen
The old deserted farm seemed to be a perfect meeting place for me and Joe. I had given it a lot of thought, taking Joe's comfort into consideration. He appreciated serene surroundings, fresh country air and most of all, seclusion. I like all of that too but I had to be sure to accommodate Joe. I'd done enough to upset and irritate him last week-end. I wanted to redeem myself as best I could.
I felt a surge of excitement and relief when I heard the familiar rumble of his muffler coming up the dusty drive. Relief, because I wouldn't have blamed him if he'd have blown me off and just parked himself at Jessie's Bar with the guys from work. He didn't do that. He came to meet me despite the possibility of yet one more futile conversation about our shaky future.
Well, the shaky part, that's my fault, not Joe's by any stretch. No, Joe's vision of our future was as he'd told me time and time again, as real and stable and strong as Majestic Mountain. As that thought trailed off, Joe had reached me in front of the cabin and his six foot four frame bent way down to plant a kiss on my head.
"Hey Joe" I half-whispered as I looked at him and smiled. "Did I ever tell you when you kiss my head like that, it makes me giddy?"
"No, Carla, ya never told me but I can tell."
"Oh really Joe? Just how can you tell how I feel?" Joe would have been disappointed had I not snapped back in my bratty tone of voice.
"Well girl, it's that giggle of yours. Gives you away every time. C'mon let's do what we do best and park our butts on the grass and stare at Majestic Mountain."
And so we sat, in the stillness and such utter silence, I swear I could hear our hearts beating. There she was, just as beautiful and awesome as she's been since Joe and I first met on this farm, when we dubbed her Majestic Mountain.
Back then we were just snotty-nosed kids, dragged by our Dads from our farm to theirs so we could learn to care for the horses our families raised. Joe loved it. I did not and would pawn off my share of work as often as I could. Joe covered for me always. I liked that about him.
Neither of us could have known so many years ago that one day we would fall in love. I mean fall madly in love like we were plain crazy.
A walk in the present
Joe stood and held out his hand to help me up. We walked towards the acres where the prized horses had run and played and grazed as Joe and I lovingly brushed each horse, one by one for hours on end. We spoke softly to those animals we'd adopted as our best friends and brushed until their manes sparkled in the sun.
My sixth sense never failed me. I had no doubt Joe was about to speak in that "Let's get serious" tone that I could not evade.
"So Carla, what is it you want me to know today that you haven't already told me?"
"Joe, it's not that I have more to say. It's just that I need to know you understand my reasons for............."
"For what, Carla? For you telling me you're not sure we should get married?" Do you think it will hurt less if I know why you feel that way? Do I need to know why you have fears or reservations? Carla, I don't want to know those things. OK? Spare me."
"Damn you, Joseph Allen Williams!" There you go as always. Could you ever let me finish a thought before you interrupt? Right now I feel like that lonely old abandoned train on those dead tracks, Joe. Please hear me out. Make an effort to at least pretend you're listening!"
"Well, Damn it to you too, Carla Jean Mason!" There you go as usual. You know I don't pretend and I won't pretend. I love you, Carla and all I know is that you and I belong together forever. You say you love me Carla, well do you? Carla, look at me."
Joe was not about to budge and I couldn't have moved if I wanted to. I could only look down as the tears poured down my face. The God's honest truth was that I didn't know why I was scared to take that huge step with Joe. I didn't know what sort of thing was going on inside me. Was I feeling authentic warnings of some kind? Is this normal? Do I love Joe? Of course I love Joe.
As we neared the old barn, I could hear the furry residents meowing in harmony. I figured they were thanking me for bringing them the treats I'd placed by the door. It made me happy to know that all the feral cats from miles around had found shelter from the elements in that wooden barn that looked as though it would topple any moment. It was strong enough to house several mamas and their litters. They would be fine.
"I asked you to look at me, Carla, please." Joe's voice had softened. He lifted my face by my chin and wiped the tears from my face with his thumbs. He took my eyes captive in his own and again there was silence. Joe's eyes were the epitome of love if ever I saw any. He'd always been able to stare his way into the depths of my heart without saying a word. This moment, that power was stronger than ever.
"Carla, this is the last time I'm going to stand before you with this pain in my gut that's ripping me apart. You either love me or you don't. If you do, I want to be your husband, Carla. In my heart and with every fiber of my being, I know you're the woman I want as my wife. No more questions Carla. You never need to doubt me. Tell me Carla, once and for all, what's it gonna be?"
We're where we belong
I tried to speak but my throat wouldn't let me at that moment. I stood on my tip toes and stretched up as high as I could to put my hands on Joe's shoulders and pulled his face to mine. The spark we have always shared is overwhelming and as I melted into his arms, he held on tighter. I realized we were both sobbing. Struggling for composure, I whispered over and over again, "Joe, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, forgive me....I love you. I love you and I never want us to be apart."
It seemed as though it was hours that we stood in that spot and held one another for dear life. Instinctively and because we'd grown to do so much in sync, we held hands and strolled back toward the cabin. On the way, we passed the small family burial plot where my great grandparents had been laid to rest.
My hero Joe came to the rescue to brighten the mood. He nodded toward the headstones and spoke to great grandma and grandpa Mason.
"You've never met me Mr & Mrs. Mason, but I'm gonna be your great grandson. Carla has agreed to be my wife and I want you to know, I will love her and protect her forever."
"Oh Joe, how sweet. I just heard them say they're very happy for us."
We laughed together and stepped through the cabin door. Joe turned out the lights.