Through a night of restless sleep, sleep bombarded by tosses and turns, aches and concerns, the world spun slowly and came around, and Bob came into the light of the sun once more. Golden rays spilled over the distant mountain range to fall on the pine trees shimmering with frost. The crystals on their green needles melted and bloomed into small beads of light, and the meadow of tall grass that lined the dirt road where the car was parked began to sparkle with the brilliance of melting diamonds under a cold blue sky.
As he awoke, this light poured into his weary eyes. The cab was aglow, and he wiped the windows with his hands to clear the fog born of from their heat. Safe in the shadows of the trees, Bob was free to take in everything. The stillness of the nearby lake, ice spreading along its edges. The white-capped mountains. To his right, in the passenger seat, slept Catherine. Her hair was disheveled, and the bite of the cold night left rosy circles on her cheeks. She was curled into a tight ball under a dark green blanket that was stenciled US ARMY.
Bob fell victim to a flash flood then, the hard spots of fear in his heart dissolving like the frost in the sun. The beauty around him said there was far more to life than he had been told. The girl next him proved that love was worth so much more than he had believed. The flood of realization rushed through his heart and collided with his doubts and misconceptions, and left in its wake a stunning clarity. He reached his hand out from under his own blanket and stroked Catherine’s brown hair. Her eyes opened, puffy with sleep, and the eyes that looked back at him confirmed everything. The stillness he felt was matched by the look in her eyes. They seemed to speak to him.
I’ve always been here and I always will. I’ve loved you longer than you realize and I’ll love you more than you’ll ever know.
As he looked at her, she smiled. He smiled back. She took his hand and held it to her cheek. “What are you thinking?” she asked.
Then, in that moment of clarity, with the petty doubts and superficial fears washed away by love and awe, a true feeling a fear came into the still place in his heart. He felt his chest tighten as he realized the pain that would come to know the feeling of love lost. “Never leave me,” said. It was more question than command, more plead for mercy than demand.
She kissed the top of his hand and rubbed it against her cheek, her brown eyes locked on his. Around them, the meadow of frozen diamonds melted away into the tears of joy and sorrow the two would share for the rest of their years. And though that meadow was never revisited, some random side road found late at night while traveling across the state of Wyoming, it was never forgotten, the meadow that was the morning of their love.