It has to be perfect. Every detail has to shine! If I mess this up there won't be a do-over... no mulligans on a gaff like that. I need to find a spot so perfect her breath will be taken...
A pothole rudely interrupted his train of thought as his SUV bounced down the overgrown dirt road. He smiled and imagined how funny it would be driving Camille down this road tonight. Her confusion at how such a country back-lane could possibly lead to the formal affair he had implied would be something he knew they would laugh over later. He had told her to wear her cinnamon evening dress, the one with the hand sewn trim and rhinestone spaghetti straps with the slingback Manolo Blahniks she had saved up six months to buy. She loved dressing up and that dress made the auburn highlights in her hair catch fire and spread into her jade eyes to dance. It was just right for the surprise he had planned.
He had known when he saw her the very first time that this moment would come. He had felt it before, with other girls, to some degree... but Camille... she had really opened up his heart and inspired him to take the chance. It had taken weeks to get her to relent... but they had been dating now for six months. He loved to remind her how hesitant she had been in the beginning...
And look at us now! Tonight will change it all!
He bounced along, deliberately slowing over and over to get a better view of this spot or that. Rusty autumn leaves were just beginning to peek through the green, with a dab of yellow here and there. One place would seem right at first then something would reveal itself under closer scrutiny that could ruin everything. The next one seemed perfect, then he would see a patch of poison oak or a muddy embankment... another one felt right, then he would realize it would be facing away from the view on which his whole spiel depended.
Can't convince her that she is my 'moon and stars' if the harvest moon is hanging behind the trees instead of orange and glowing in front of us!
He walked over his whole speech in his head, every word he needed her to hear, every line carefully crafted to fit, to lead this evenings narrative to its perfect conclusion. He felt a giddy burble in his stomach and laughed out loud.
Nerves! WOW. Ok, I can do this! It's the first day of the rest of...
BAM! This pothole was bigger, practically a ditch across the road. His head slammed into the roof of the vehicle as he instinctively braked hard. Having come to full stop, he raised his hand to the top of his head and rubbed gingerly.
Ow. Sheesh. I need to pay more attention. Gotcha, Universe!
As herubbed the sore away, he looked right and left, then a doubletake back right. If anyone could have seen the grin that broke out on his face as he glanced toward the top of the hill where he had come so abruptly to a halt, they would have used words like 'cherubic' and 'boyish innocence'. He beamed at his good fortune.
“There it is! Oh god, there it is! It's perfect!”
He felt a lump in his throat as for a moment, he was caught up in the joy and relief of completing his quest. Seated on top of the hill was a lovely grove of shagbark hickory and red ash trees, situated in a crescent shape around a small clearing. Facing east, the hillock boasted thick grasses, still green in the warm September morning. The climb was reasonably easy, a meandering path, seemingly clear of debris, winding it's way up to the sheltered glen. Getting out of the SUV, he walked to the bottom of the hill and caught a waft of earthy sweetness.
He felt his earlier excitement return with a rush as he realized there were clumps of wild nicotiana growing up the hill and around the boulders jutting from beneath the black soil. Camille's perfume, Woo, had undertones of the flowering tobacco plant so common around these wild spaces. She was always so surprised when he knew such details about her. He liked to tell her it's how she could know how much he cared.
“The devil is in the details,” he would tell her as he wowed her with another intimate tidbit he had gleaned from his observations. Still, it surprised her every time. Surprising her had become his favorite game.
He headed around to the back hatch, keeping his eyes on the little glade at the top of the hill. He could just see her tonight, silhouetted against the pregnant orange moon, dress billowing around her legs, hair in ringlets caught in the breeze as the gorgeous natural perfume of the place became swept up in her tresses. He could imagine returning here, year after year, on the anniversary of this life changing day... he caught a hitch in his throat at his own sentimentality.
“Yes. It's perfect, my love. Exactly where our lives entwined should begin.”
He lifted the hatch and removed the spade and gloves. Carrying the shovel slung over one shoulder, he wound up the path to her perfect place.
Oh, Camille. You're gonna love it here.