He is stirring green beans and butter in a red plastic bowl when I realize that I could watch the way his long fingers grip the fork for the rest of my life. He scoops the beans out onto two plates, turns and hands me one while raising an eyebrow.
“What?” he asks.
“Looks good,” I reply.
They are frozen green beans, nothing special. Eat them and you will grow strong. But there is a weakness growing inside of me and I can feel the tendrils squeezing my lungs.
“Don’t be the first one to say it,” my brother says. “You will look silly.”
When we drive along the rocky coast of Maine and watch the green ocean swell like it is a living being larger than eternity I do not say it. When the snow dances and blankets the back yard in a sea of white and clings to the branches of the pine trees I do not say it. When the foolish moon kisses his sleeping face with horizontal shadows late at night in the stillness of the bedroom I do not say it.
“Has he told you yet?’ My brother asks.
“No,” I say.
“Good. If you tell him you will scare him away.”
Night after night I watch him cook buttered green beans, turkey meatloaf Florentine, buffalo chicken and listen as he pours out gurgling red wine. I tell him that I am not dating anyone else. I tell him that he makes me laugh. I tell him that I have never been this happy before, but I do not scare him away because I do not tell him.
“I have to say it.”
“Are you sure?” My brother asks. “What if he doesn’t feel the same way?”
His question seizes me with doubt. I am a fool. It is too soon. I pack up the words and store them away. The ocean is simply a body of water. The cold snow is something to shovel and the moon is just a moon.
The alarm has failed me and I am running late for work.
“Have you seen my striped shirt?” I shout.
“It’s hanging up in the closet. It’s ironed,” He shouts up the stairs.
“I don’t have time for breakfast,” I say. “Where are my shoes?”
“They’re by the door,” he says.
I slip on my shoes. He is a smiling sentinel clutching a brown paper lunch bag, the top creased underneath those long perfect fingers.
“It’s breakfast,” he says.
My lips graze his lips.
“I love you,” it slips.
“Me too, now get your ass to work before you’re late,” he says.
The vine clutches my heart and squeezes the air out of my lungs as I run down the steps.
“What did he say?” my brother asks.
“I am such a fool,” I say.
He'd told me long before I told him.