10:00 pm – continued
Their glasses clinked between the two white taper candles burning brightly on the small, round table they sat at. The simple wooden table was covered with a silky white cloth, making it look a little more elegant for the newlyweds. Fresh roses in three vases sat on the table and around them, filling the little dining room with their sweet fragrance. Their meal of steak, creamy mashed potatoes, and string beans was finished and they were just starting on a homemade tiramisu. Dishes were sitting in the sink, but they didn’t care much. What good would doing the dishes do when they wouldn’t even be alive the next day?
Daniel and Alex had to admit it was a pretty good wedding night dinner. They wished it could have been an anniversary dinner, but knew they were lucky they had been able to get married in the first place. Neither was the greatest cook, but, with Daniel’s mother’s recipes, they’d managed to figure it out, after about a half dozen tries. Usually, they made something easy like spaghetti or went for takeout. So, five charred steaks, three bowls of watery or undercooked potatoes, and a couple plates of funny looking string beans later, they’d finally been able to sit down to an elegant dinner they’d actually made themselves. It was ten at night and they had sat down to dinner a half hour before, but they were happy. Daniel was even happier his husband was a great baker. At least they had an awesome dessert that hadn’t had to be remade half a dozen times.
Daniel took a sip of his champagne, staring at Alex over the top of the fluted glass that had been a gift from Alex’s parents. Alex was carefully slicing into the tiramisu so he could serve it to each of them on the porcelain dessert plates Stacie had given them. The scents of coffee and chocolate were permeating the air, mixing with the roses, but with each cut Alex made, the more of the dessert Daniel smelled and the more the roses faded into the background.
“Smells good,” Daniel remarked, putting his glass down.
Alex glanced up and gave his new husband a shy smile as he put a slice on Daniel’s plate. “Thanks. I used to make this all the time for my grandpa before he passed. He loved it with extra strong espresso.”
Daniel laughed. “I don’t think I like espresso that much, but this’ll be a good wake up call.”
Alex stopped cutting into the dessert and studied his husband. Daniel had turned away and was staring pensively out the windows and into the night. “Are you changing your mind and want to go to sleep instead of staying up until midnight?”
Daniel shrugged and looked down at the table. “I’m not really sure of what I want to do, Alex.” He ran a hand through his hair. “We have less than two hours now. I just don’t know what I want to do. Life seems so short now. Twelve hours ago I was on top of the world. We were getting married and everything was perfect. We had all day to enjoy our lives and each other. Now that’s all over with. We have these last couple of hours and I don’t know what to do with myself anymore. Two hours just isn’t enough time.”
Alex stood and walked over to him. He held out a hand and Daniel looked up at his husband, wondering what Alex was asking him for.
“Come on, Danny,” Alex said gently. “Let’s just go sit on the couch for a little bit and sort this out. We can come back to dessert later.”
Daniel gave him a grateful smile. After plopping his white cloth napkin on the table, he took Alex’s hand and allowed his husband to lead him over to the couch. They settled down side by side and Alex pulled Daniel into his arms so Daniel’s head rested on Alex’s chest and Alex was able to wrap his arms around him while Daniel snuggled against him. The last time they had sat this way was when Sylvie had called to say Daniel’s father had passed away.
“What’s bothering you, honey?” Alex asked gently, stroking Daniel’s hair.
“It’s just this two hours left to live thing. I mean, you want to live your life to the fullest, you want to know and experience everything. But you can’t. There’s only so much time left. I feel like I haven’t accomplished much.”
“Honey, don’t think like that,” Alex said soothingly. “You’ve accomplished a lot. And we finally managed to get married.”
“I know. But we wanted a family, Alex. We wanted kids. We wanted to travel the world. We wanted to learn how to actually cook. Not that dinner wasn’t great tonight, but we did waste a lot of food. And what about that cat we wanted to get?”
Alex gently kissed his husband’s head. “It’s okay, honey. I’m sure there are a lot of people who haven’t accomplished all of their dreams. Just think of all those little children. Think of that little girl your cousin used to be the nanny for. Those kids won’t get to accomplish anything.”
Daniel raised his head. He offered a small, trite smile. “You’re right, Alex.” He shook his head in amazement. “I don’t know how you do it, but you always say just the right thing to make me feel better.”
Alex grinned. “And that’s why you married me.”
Daniel returned the smile and leaned in to kiss his husband. “I think I’d like to stay up for the fireworks. We can stand out on the balcony at midnight and just wait for it to happen.”
“As sure as I’m going to be. But I’ll let you know if I change my mind again before then.”
Alex laughed. “I know you will. You always do. Maybe you should have been born a girl. You are even more indecisive than Stacie.”
Daniel shrugged. “She is my sister. We must have gotten it from my mom.”
“What is your mom planning on doing tonight?”
“I don’t know. Maybe I should call her.”
Alex nodded and handed him the phone sitting on the end table next to where he sat. “I’ll finish serving the tiramisu.”
Daniel dialed his mother’s number as Alex went back to the dining table. The phone rang a few times before the answering machine picked up. Daniel frowned and hung up, only to redial again a few seconds later, thinking his mother may have just gone to the bathroom. The answering machine picked up again and he left his message, asking her to call back if she could, but, if not, he let her know he was saying his last good bye to her.