There’s a steady drip from the tap, dancing on the steel utensils in the sink. The sun is fast asleep, perhaps just fretting about a little before it wakes up. I switch on the lights, squinting to not startle the sleep I already broke. I gently shut the door behind me as I walk in, scanning the kitchen to locate the shelves I need. I glance to my left, at the daisy clock he’s put up. It was a Saturday afternoon, and I remember telling him about the geyser being left a few minutes too long, as I stirred the tea leaves, in the morning while I got busy in the kitchen. All he said was “Hm.” as he passed me the cup of milk. I’m not sure when he got the clock but I stepped in the next morning to find the daisy hanging on the wall.
It’s a sharp three. Three hours before the sun wakes up the house. I walk over to the slab and place the bowl on it as I take out a packet hidden away behind the barrel of rice and lentils. I walk over to the fridge and take out a few eggs, and milk. It’s been an hour and the batter looks promising. I grease the pan and pour it in. You can see the chocolate popping out here and there. It looks rather endearing and I ignore my compulsive urge to even it out. I dance around in broken circles, occasionally hopping onto the slab as the vanilla floods into the kitchen as the sun yawns awake.
It’s a quarter to six and there’s a three-tier cake with buttercream roses on a flower bordered plate, with the sun falling softly on it, creating the sunrise itself. I sit three feet across it, taking in every detail, doubting and dotting it. It’s a minute away from six and I can hear the sheets ruffling in the bedroom. I pick up the cake and, light the red candle as I tiptoe my way back into the room. I push the door open lightly with my hip as I enter, watching him stretch, half asleep and then sit up, ruffling his hair first and then rubbing his eyes. His left arm reaches out for me and I can see the muscles tense for a second before he feels my presence in the room. He looks up to me, as I walk up to him and sit down in front of him, smiling sheepishly. His eyes are equal parts confusion and awe. He looks down at the cake and I can tell the “Happy Birthday!” answers a few of his questions. I can not tell if he’s scanning it, as his eyes stay transfixed for a minute too long and the sudden uncertainty slowly fades away my smile. But just then he whispers, “Thank you.” And looks up at me, straight in the eye.
“I love you.”
There’s a sincerely so raw and honest in his chestnut eyes, it chokes me up, warming my heart, like it might just burst in happiness. I’d say it back, but all I can manage is to smile back at him and I hope he understands the words I haven’t spoken. There’s a calm peace that flows through my nerves as he holds my hand and gives it a tight squeeze, smiling so wide as though he understood. I watch him blow the candle and close his eyes to make a wish like a believer and I feel it again; that surety. To know that one day, it will be more than a smile. To know, that this is the face I am to wake up to till the end of time. To know, that one step at a time, we will walk from strangers to two wholes, that make the half of another greater whole. That one day, every fragment in my body, will compel me to say it back with no inhibitions; with no fear.