No Cognitive Defect - XII

Evan's own grief began later that evening, after he'd gone through the business of arranging the flight back to New York. He'd spent the rest of the night lying across her lap on the bed. He'd said nothing, not a single word. She'd gently stroked his hair and stayed silent herself…sometimes, it's best to just shut up and be there.

On the flight back east Evan did nothing but talk. He was almost manic as he rambled on about how he would have to change things around to care for his father. He'd have to move back east, of course. He'd get work out of New York, or Boston…she'd like that, wouldn't she? No more long distance relationship punctuated by her occasional stay in L.A. or his sporadic long weekends in New York. Except that he'd be in Glennon, though, wouldn't he? Well, maybe they should just get married. Finally hitch up. Live with his father in Glennon. It was a huge house. Plenty of room. They could remodel. Make it more handicap-accessible. Ramps. Ramps at the front of the house. Ramps for the porch. They'd redo the bathrooms with rails and things, like you see in public restrooms or hospitals. Maybe, finally, that motorized lift for the staircase so his father wouldn't have to walk up and down the steps. Maybe another one as well for the cellar stairway.

They were over Nebraska eating a god-awful airline lunch when he blurted all that out. She remembered there was a monitor screen overhead with a simple map of the United States, white lines on a blue background, and the icon of an airplane…their airplane…was halfway over the Cornhusker state. She hadn't been paying full attention because he'd been droning on like that off and on for nearly an hour, and the flight was bumpy, and her stomach was flopping around, and her brain was nearly numb to his rambling, but then what he'd said in the middle of it all finally plowed through and sunk in, and in that moment of clarity she swore her heart had stopped.

"Evan, shut the f___ up," she said suddenly. She'd hurled the words at him, like small pointed stones that sting to the bone when they hit bare skin. People swiveled their heads and stared at her, frowns in abundance.

"Why?" he asked, jaw hanging open.

"Did you just f___ing propose?"

He screwed his face up a second, like someone befuddled because they can't find the pen they were just using…the one sitting right there, behind their ear.

"Did you?" she asked again.

"Well…well… yes. I did. So what do you say?"

She punched him in the arm.

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