Maggie pushed on the cold door, stepped through, and opened her umbrella. Multiple Sclerosis. What was she to do with that? Thoughts swirled as she stepped off the curb and leaned into the rain. Shoulders down, she trod across the cracked pavement. Rivulets of water racing to the gated drains caught her attention. A perfect example of life—right there—broken and swirling out of control. Would any place calm a galloping heart?
A car’s headlights reflected off the wet road. Maggie jerked. I have the right of way. It can just stop for me. The car kept coming.
With a turn of her ankle she faced the avenger. Good, hit me and put me out of this loneliness. She drew in a sharp breath and waited.
At the last second, the car screeched to a stop spraying water from underneath. The driver pushed the door open and unfolded himself from the vehicle. He tramped through the puddles and stopped in front of Maggie.
“What’s wrong with you? Are you trying to get yourself killed?”
Maggie tilted her umbrella back. Her eyes rolled upward, and her mind went adrift. Large brown eyes. Water cascading over short-cropped hair. A flash of memory crossed her mind then fled in pain. She set her jaw.
“Maybe I was.”
He grabbed her shoulders. “Why would you do that Magpie?”
“No one’s called me that since … wait … Kevin? What? … Where? … When? …”
“Let’s get out of the rain and I’ll tell you.
Moments later, the two sipped lattes in a coffee shop. Kevin’s jacket hung loosely around Maggie.
“When I came back to the U.S., I was recovering from a head injury I received in Afghanistan.”
A small gasp ruffled the steaming mocha. “I thought you were dead.”
“In a way, I was. I couldn’t remember much of anything.”
“It took two years being nursed back to health. When I finally recovered, I knew I had to come back and find you.”
Maggie coughed on the drink she’d just sipped. “Really?”
“Mags, why did you want to get hit today?”
How could she explain? Kevin’s wide-open eyes threatened to suffocate her. Drawing in an unsteady breath, she began. “Since high school graduation, life hasn’t been what I’d planned. Dad died, and …” Maggie lowered her head. “soon after, Mom had a nervous breakdown.” She wiped moisture from her face. “Today, I was to find out for sure if I have multiple sclerosis.”
“I walked out of the doctor’s office before hearing the diagnosis. I don’t want to know. I can’t take it anymore. I’m so alone. When I saw a car coming, I suddenly didn’t care.”
“Maggie,” Kevin reached across the table “You’re not alone anymore. We’ll get through this together.”
His hand, though rough, once held hers with tenderness and promised a wonderful future. His eyes still suggested the same. She shook her head. “You’ve already dealt with your fair share. You need to ...”
“You know I’ve loved you since high school. I never stopped. Even when I couldn’t remember much, I called your name.”
“How do you know?”
“The nurses told me the name I called out. It was yours.”
A sniffle and another gasp escaped. “I thought I’d never see you again.”
“I’m here now.”
“If I have multiple sclerosis, life will be challenging enough for me, let alone having to worry about how you’ll deal with it.”
“I’m not leaving you.”
“You came back for the healthy Maggie who ran track and played soccer. You didn’t come back for me.”
“I came back for the girl who knows my heart better than anyone but God. The one who cried with me when my dog died; the friend who helped me pass chemistry; I came back for you.”
“God?” Maggie bulged her eyes. “After all you’ve been through, you still believe in God?” She pushed her chair back from the table. “Why would God …” She stood and raced out the door.
In the pouring rain, she tilted her head back and let the deluge soak her. Maybe she’d catch pneumonia and die.
Strong arms wrapped around her. “I’m not going to leave you alone. We’ll face this side-by-side.” Kevin turned Maggie to face him. “I know you’re afraid, but God has the answers we need."
In the middle of the sidewalk, rain pouring down on them, Kevin knelt, reached under his jacket, and pulled out a small box.
A shudder sped through Maggie as she drew her hand to her mouth. Could she be dreaming? As he opened the blue, square container, calmness wrapped her like a warm blanket.
Kevin pulled out a solitaire. “You and me again?”
Maggie barely managed a small nod before the ring was on her finger. “This won’t be easy.”
Kevin wrapped her in his arms. “No, but you, me, and God will make it one step at a time.” He pulled back from her and looked at her eyes. “First, could we get out of this rain? I’m freezing.”
Shared laughter broke the storm inside her as the two moved under an awning.
“Storms pass, Magpie. We’ll weather them together.”
Photo: Unsplash-Freddie Marriage
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