"You know what I've always wanted to tell you?" He looked at her expectantly from the doorframe. As he did so, one hand rested under a tray of coffee and pastries, the other hand held onto the doorframe for stability. She laughed. He often asked the question when he was in a good mood.
"Now, tell me already," she answered him with a smile in her voice.
He leaned forward a little, looked deep into her eyes and whispered, "I like you."
She laughed a happy laugh and the skin around her eyes wrinkled. She rose from the big wicker chair and with a gentle touch to his cheek whispered back, "Shall I tell you a secret?"
She took the tray from his hand and set it on the veranda table, then turned back to him and took his hands. He went along with her game and smiled at her. "Please."
She moved even closer to him and said with a sly smile, "I like you too."
He smiled at her and leaned down to kiss her. After a gentle touch of lips, he whispered, "Happy 56th wedding anniversary."
"I wish you the same."
A short while later she interrupted the loving embrace by saying, "Come on, the coffee's getting cold."
They sat down on the large chairs overlooking the vast green plains and he poured them coffee while she cut the pastry into pieces. Silently they enjoyed the peaceful moment. The clouds flew across the still blue sky and the sun warmed the autumn day. Later it would rain and the light breeze of the moment would turn into a strong wind, but now it was still beautiful. And so, the two sat on the veranda in front of the little red house on the outskirts of town. They drank their coffee, ate the buttery pastries and enjoyed their time together. In the evening, friends would come for dinner. They would cook and talk together about topics that interested them, about current events, about the past. Maybe they would look at old photos from the past, from their youth, the wedding, the building of the house, the many journeys. They would sit by the fireplace while the rain whipped against the windows and just be together. Not all the friends from their youth would be there, some had passed away, others had become estranged. But new acquaintances had joined them and some had become close friends. It would be a nice evening. But for now there were only the two of them and that was good.
They smiled at each other and held each other's hand. As it got colder and the sky closed in, they rose again. He took the dishes into the house and she collected the porch cushions. On the way into the house, he intercepted her at the door frame. He touched her face lightly and she smiled at him. "I love you."
And as she had for the last 56 years, she replied, "More than anything."
I like you was written by India Wittmershaus.
Cover photo by Annie Spratt.