I met Brian in high school; we were partners in crime, and always together. People always called us Vi and Bri, though I had not entirely approved of the crass abbreviation of my name, Violet. Of course, we were not actually together. I was his best friend, his closest confidant. I was, in fact, the person he turned to when the steamy romances in which he indulged fell to pieces. I played the cool, supportive best friend, while secretly hoping that at some point he would realize what an asset I really was to him.
For years, I loved him in secret. I reasoned that if he didn’t fall in love with me naturally, without provocation, then announcing my own feelings for him would only result in humiliation and awkwardness. I would rather, I told myself, keep what we have than risk losing him altogether.
The year he turned thirty, Brian was accepted into a program for international diplomacy based in Washington, D.C. and branching into countries all over the world. He was already fluent in three languages, and seemed to possess that golden ability to say exactly the right thing in any given situation. He left on a Sunday morning in October, after a raucous going-away party Saturday night.
A few days later, his brother Dale showed up at my door with a copy of James Joyce’s Dubliners under his arm. "Brian forgot to pack this," he said, handing it to me, "and told me it would be in safe hands with you."
Dubliners had been a mutual favorite since college, the subject of much discussion and one of the many common bonds between Brian and me. I began to flip through the pages, remembering the many times we had sat through the small hours of the morning, reading passages to each other over glasses of wine. A flutter of white caught my eye as it tumbled from the loosened pages, and I picked it up from where it landed on the rug. It turned out to be three pieces of notebook paper, covered in Brian’s unique, scrawling hand.
Mon Cherie, the letter began; and that made me smile. His love affair with languages had always richly colored every aspect of his life, including correspondence. As I continued to read, the tone of the letter became increasingly intimate. He told of a deep emotion, unlike any other, and the anguish he felt that it could never be realized.
In the end, he wrote, it was just too hard for me to be near you, hear your laugh, and know that you don’t feel the same way about me. Please know that the time I’ve spent with you has been the most precious in my life, and that no one has ever had the impact upon me that you have. I love you Violet, and that will never change. Always, Brian
I realized that I had stopped breathing; and when the air suddenly rushed back into my lungs, it was a jolt to action. Clutching the letter and juggling purse, credit card, and laptop, I managed to book the next available flight to Washington, D.C. Once there, I took a cab to the address Brian had given me before he left. I climbed stairs and passed numbers until at last I found myself in front of the one I wanted. Heart racing, limbs exhausted and jittery, I knocked.
A few moments passed in silence before I heard footsteps and the clicking of locks. He appeared wearing a t-shirt and plaid pajama bottoms; the same ones hed worn since college.
"Violet, I can’t believe you’re here!" he said.
When we were safely inside the apartment, I held up the letter. His face was a jumble of emotions.
"I love you too, Brian," I whispered, "I always have. For thirteen years, I have wanted to say what you told me in this letter. I can’t believe that we both!!
But the words were lost in the depths of the most perfect kiss I have ever known. He folded me into his arms, and I was overwhelmed by how right it was. Hours later, he looked into my eyes and said only two words, "Marry me."
I needed only one.
Proposal Story By:
West Valley City, UT