Brooklyn stood at the kitchen island, chopping vegetables for that evening. It was New Year’s Eve, and some of her friends were coming over. Kent was not big on holidays, and Brooklyn thought New Year’s Eve was overrated, but her friends were in town for only a short while, and she did not get to see them much on Christmas because they all spent time with their families. The couple planned to take a nap so they could stay up till midnight. Kent was not thrilled about the idea. It would take him a couple of days to get his sleep schedule back to normal, but since he had the next couple of days off and it meant so much to his girlfriend, who rarely asked for anything, he gave in to her desire to host a party. Not that he could ever resist the eyes that saw through him.
Kent had not wanted to leave the warmth of Brooklyn’s arms that morning, but he knew if he didn’t go into the office that Saturday to wrap up the project he hadn’t finished on Friday, it would put him a half a day behind, and now that Kent had a reason to rush home, he hated working late.
He didn’t want to startle Brooklyn while she chopped the vegetables, so he stood in the dining room and waited until she put the knife down. As soon as she did, he walked up behind her, wrapped his arms around her waist, and kissed her cheek.
“Hiya, Handsome,” she turned her head so she could kiss him.
He pulled away to grab a cup from the cupboard. He poured himself a cup of coffee.
“Want me to refill your cup?” Kent asked her as she arranged the vegetables in the shapes of snowflakes and stars. He found her attention to detail adorable. A bit fancy and a tad out of character, but adorable just the same.
“Please,” she answered.
“Missed you at the diner today.” He said as he put the coffee pot back on the burner. He turned around, leaned against the counter by the sink, facing his beautiful girlfriend, and took a sip of coffee as he awaited her response.
“Yeah, I decided to sleep in.”
“I had terrible nightmares last night. I didn’t get much sleep.”
“Why didn’t you wake me?” Kent asked with concern etched upon his face.
Brooklyn shrugged as she dipped a cauliflower floret in her homemade Greek yogurt ranch dip, “I knew you had to get up early for work. I didn’t want to wake you.”
Her thoughtfulness warmed his heart. He placed his mug on the kitchen counter and moved to stand in front of his girlfriend. He brushed her hair off her shoulder and gently cupped her jaw. “I can wake up long enough to comfort you and let you know you’re safe and then fall right back to sleep. Please wake me next time, okay?”‘
“Good girl.” He kissed her forehead before returning to his previous spot.
“Did you eat breakfast, or have you just been snacking on cut-up veggies all morning?” He raised a knowing eyebrow at her.
She couldn’t help but giggle. Kent knew her so well. “The latter.”
“Mmhmm, that’s what I thought.” He playfully glared at her. “It’s after 1:00. Let me make you tomato soup and grilled cheese. You’re only having a charcuterie board and vegetable tray for dinner.”
Brooklyn understood that by ‘make,’ Kent meant open the can and heat it on the stove with milk, but she enjoyed the famous red and white labeled brand, and he made a great grilled cheese. He could have offered her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and she would appreciate the sentiment. Kent understood she forgets to eat when she gets busy, and she had been busying herself with cleaning and food prepping all morning.
Her three closest friends, Melissa Meyers, Charolotte Cavill, James Conner, and their significant others, came over around 7:00 that evening. The couple chit-chatted over snacks, and much to Kent’s chagrin, Brooklyn set out the leftover Christmas cookies. They played Cards Against Humanity and had The Twilight Zone marathon on in the background. Kent enjoyed watching Brooklyn laugh and let loose with some of the people she loved the most, and what was even better, none of them could stay until midnight. Perhaps he wouldn’t lose that much sleep after all.
James spotted a figurine sitting in the dining room hutch on his way to the kitchen. “Do you mind if I look at this figurine in your hutch?” He inquired as he met Brooklyn’s eyes.
She did not know which knick-knack he was referring to, but it did not matter, so Brooklyn replied, “Surely.”
James picked up a ceramic figurine of a little girl kneeling with her arms wrapped around a unicorn. “It’s weird, but I remember this being in your bedroom when we were kids.” He informed her.
“Yeah, it sat over the shelf above my bed. My mom had it custom-made for me.”
“Wait, what?” Kent asked in a confused tone.
“My mom did ceramics and….”
Kent interrupted her, “Yeah, so did mine, and I don’t understand how a ceramic statue could be custom-made. Your mom would have had to make a specific mold. It just doesn’t work that way. The molds are already poured, and your mom was given a green clay that she could etch designs, initials, and whatever she wanted into. She painted it, and then it was baked. But she didn’t have it custom-made for you.”
Brooklyn’s face fell, and the whole room fell so silent one could hear a pin drop. Kent instantly felt horrible.
“Did I just ruin a part of your childhood?”
“Kinda,” she admitted. “I mean, my mom made me believe that she had that made especially for me, and I obviously didn’t know how ceramics were made, so I just took her word for it. She was my mom. Why would she lie to me?”
Kent’s heart broke. He hadn’t meant to ruin something precious to her. He grabbed her hand, “Sweetheart, your mom still labored over it. She added little details and painted it so that it resembled you. She knew you loved unicorns as a child, and that was very thoughtful.”
Brooklyn appreciated that he wanted to make her feel better, but the truth was the object didn’t hold as much value to her anymore.
“It’s not a unique statue that only I own, though. Every little girl whose mom did ceramics in the 1980s probably has one.”
“Well, I am sure yours is painted differently.” Kent tried to console her.
Brooklyn gave him a look that screamed, “Nice try.”
“I am sorry, Sweetheart. I forgot that you are overly sensitive.”
Kent did not know that calling Brooklyn overly sensitive was hitting below the belt for her.
Multiple adults and some peers berated her for her sensitivity her entire childhood. She knew she had told him and had to swallow the lump in her throat over his insensitivity.
“Can we talk about this later, please?”
“That doesn’t really work for me, Brooklyn. If you have something to say, just say it.”
“Fine,” she said through her teeth, glaring at him. “You’re acting like an asshole.”
She had thrown him off guard, but for the first time in their relationship, not in a good way. Kent scoffed, “You have yet to see asshole, Sweetheart.”
He moved past her and grabbed his coat.
“Where are you going?” Brooklyn inquired.
“What’s it to you?” He asked before walking out the door.
Brooklyn couldn’t help the tears that flowed down her cheeks as she stared at the door in disbelief.
She quickly recovered, wiped her eyes, and turned to face her friends. “I’m sorry. He’s not usually like that, and I didn’t mean for you guys to witness our first heated argument.”
She continued to sing Kent’s praises and assure her friends that he was actually a great man.
Melissa walked over and enveloped her friend in a big hug. “I saw how he looked at you, even when he was angry. He’s going to return to you.”
“I hadn’t considered that maybe he walked out the door for good!” Brooklyn panicked.
An hour later, Kent still had not returned, and Brooklyn’s friend’s hated to leave her, but they needed to get back to their kids and dogs.
Brooklyn assured them that she would be fine. She sat on the sofa, her right leg crossed over her left knee and her arms crossed across her chest. She glared at the door, willing Kent to walk through it.
What she did not realize was that Kent was in the loft above the garage. He kept a space heater in the loft and hung out, waiting for her friends to leave. He decided to make her wait another agonizingly long hour just for punishment.
He walked in and immediately noticed her puffy eyes and although he was still pissed, his anger lessened at the sight of her.
“Ya know what I don’t understand?” She asked immediately.
“Hmm?” he responded as he took off his coat and hung it in the foyer closet.
“You basically tell me to grow a pair and tell you how I feel, although I asked you if we could wait until my friends left before we had our quarrel, but you are free to leave without telling me where you are going or when you’ll be back. So much for talking.”
Kent pinched the bridge of his nose and released a heavy sigh. He both loved and hated that she called him out on his bullshit.
“I was hurt, Brooklyn. You never call me an asshole. In fact, you defend me, even when I call myself an asshole.”
“And I told you I was scolded for being sensitive, and you said those people could go fuck themselves. I never thought,” she trailed off as a sob escaped her lips. “I never thought you’d be one of them.” She whispered her thought.
Kent sighed in defeat and slumped on the couch next to her. “See, this is why I think you deserve better. This is why I don’t understand why you love me.”
Brooklyn turned to face him and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. She spoke softly. “Hey, please look at me.” She wanted him to see the sincerity in her eyes as she spoke.
Kent could never look away. How do you look away from a pair of eyes boring into your soul?
“You tell me all the time that my soul is special. That I am as rare as a unicorn….”
“That’s all true,” he interrupted her.
“Did you hear a period at the end of that sentence?” Her sharp tone was not lost on him.
Kent loved her feisty banter. He teased her all the time, and her good sportsmanship and willingness to give him a little taste of his own medicine was one of the traits that drew him to her.
“Who are you really mad at?” He asked, unable to hide his smile.
She wanted to scoff at the shit-eating grin he was wearing. He knew damn well she was mad at him, but her scoff came out as a chuckle. He made her laugh harder than anyone.
“May I continue?” Brooklyn asked, her voice laced with sarcasm because both knew she was not the type of woman to ask for permission except during certain intimate moments.
Although Kent loved teasing her, he was also intelligent and knew when to shut up.
“Please, my love.” He gestured for her to continue with his hand.
She paused briefly and smiled as Kent kept looking at her, actively listening.
“You told me when we first met that I had a vibe that pulled you in, and you fell for my mind. We were like magnets.” “You told me it was not just about sex or what I could do for you. I believe the word you used was irresistible.”
She grabbed his hand and continued looking into his eyes, “you told me that you fantasized about being my partner in many ways. You wanted to laugh with me, and learn from me, and hear my stories.” She paused as she swallowed the lump in her throat, looking down at her fingers intertwined with Kent’s.
He gently lifted her chin with the forefinger of his other hand until their eyes met. He encouraged her to continue with only a look.
She smiled at him as her heart swelled. “I had been betrayed and hurt, and I felt so lost and in the dark, so I was guarded,” she paused to gather her thoughts and hold back tears. “I did not let people in,” she scoffed, “and especially men.” “I know I am not easy. I make people work to earn a position in my life because I need consistency.” She started to look away, but Kent followed her, never losing eye contact.
Brooklyn released a relieved sigh, “I yearned for a true connection. A genuine connection, one built on laughter and built on something much greater and deeper than most people can handle. I wanted someone who understood this about me.” The look on Brooklyn’s face told Kent everything he needed to know about how she felt about him. “Kent, I am my most loving, funniest, and best self when I’m with you. How could I not love you?”
Although she had always had a way of knowing what his heart needed to hear, Kent was always a little surprised by it. He recovered quickly, scooped her in his arms, and kissed her passionately.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“I know,” she smiled. “I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“I know.” He returned her smile before standing and pulling her off the couch and leading her to their bedroom so they could properly make up.
Neither one could think of a better way to spend the first hours of the new year.
Have the names been changed to protect the privacy of the persons in this story? It felt completely real – rare because of their ability to easily talk things out – but real.
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Parts of this were real, yes, but some aspects of the story were dramatized for fictitious purposes. Their ability to communicate so openly and well with each other is very rare, but that aspect is real.