Song on the Sand

I kicked at the snow savagely. New York sparkled and shined - even more so than usual, since it was Christmas - but I couldn't appreciate the brilliant lights, not tonight.

I took a careful sip of hot chocolate, which scalded my tongue anyway, and once the stuff had cooled down enough to swallow, I remembered quite miserably that had everything been right, we would've been out on our usual jaunt through the city right about now. Every year, Sean would drag on my arm, impatient to get to the Brooklyn docks, and when we finally got there, we'd stand with cups of peppermint hot chocolate - fresh from Starbucks - and watch the overbright nighttime skyline side-by-side. It really was a brilliant view. And then Sean would sigh and say that it was beautiful (he's always been a closet romantic, no matter how tough he acts). I'd laugh and call him a girl. We would never touch except for the lightest brush of coat on coat because touching was for later.

Unfortunately, the touching would not be happening tonight.

It was entirely my fault, too, which was sort of a new thing. It's usually Sean who messes up - coming home drunk with lipstick stains on his shirt, but that stuff never means anything, he says, and I believe him - but I couldn't even blame him just a little bit. In hindsight, my (sometimes) overzealous boyfriend had started dropping hints about a month ago, yet somehow, all of this had miraculously escaped my usually keen senses, and I'd forgotten anyway. Yes, sir, it was all my fault.

You see, I had very conveniently forgotten about our ten year anniversary.

I know, I know... I deserve to be shot.

So, very understandably, Sean threw me out of the house. Almost bodily, too... Never underestimate short guys; that's the first thing you learn when you're dealing with him (of course, at five foot five, I really can't talk).

And now... Now, I was standing on a random street corner in the middle of New York City. By myself. On Christmas Eve. Which was not fun.

But somehow, I had a feeling that anniversary-forgetting was never solved with something so simple as staying away and sulking forever.

Which meant desperate measures.

"Right..." I muttered, crumpling the cardboard cup and stuffing it into my pocket. "Desperate measures..."

* * *

I took a deep breath.

"Do you recall that windy little beach we walked along that afternoon in fall, that afternoon we met?"

My knee was cold and wet, I couldn't feel my hands, and I'm sure my vibrato wasn't up to par. Yes, for the record, I felt immensely stupid.

"A fellow with a concertina sang- What was the song? It's strange what we recall, and odd what we forget..."

Evidently, Sean was not the sort to be persuaded by heart-and-ear-rending serenades.

"I heard..." I was immensely proud of myself for being able to hold a slightly wavering note while fumbling around for a harmonica - one-handed - then bringing it up to my mouth.

And at long last, the window by the fire escape burst open. I couldn't see him all that clearly - the light from the bedroom lit up the edges of his figure, but his face was cast in shadow - but I knew that he was giving me that incredulous look. After all, I'd never played the harmonica for anyone but him before, and now I was showcasing it to the world. Or an empty alleyway, at least.

(There is also the fact that I've known him for ten years, but that can go unmentioned, I think...)

"What do you think you're doing?" he demanded.

"Being desperate."

He stared. I'm pretty sure he was speechless, though he'd never tell me if I asked. He'd say that he'd been laughing at me and trying not to let it show. And then later, he'd smile to himself when he thinks I'm sleeping - I'm really watching him watch me sleep, but don't tell him because it wouldn't be fun if he knew - and I'd know he was lying.

This is all, of course, assuming that he'd actually be good enough to let me back in the apartment. Which, if he didn't, I wouldn't blame him. But it would be a shame.

But then his shoulders heaved - Sean sighing is a beautiful thing - and I could tell that he'd given up because my irresistibility was an undeniable thing, and it had charmed him many times before (and because of the way he held his head down to keep from smiling, but the irresistibility is always more important). Sure enough, the next minute he was waving me up.

I climbed up seven flights of stairs (elevators would've ruined the suspension) and hoped that I'd get to do it forever. Unless we decided to move to an actual house or something, which would make it porch stairs, I suppose, but either way, I hope I always get to climb back up again.

He greeted me at the door with a mumbled, "Don't do that again," - how I could forget our tenth anniversary again was beyond me, as we only had one, but I made a note not to forget our twentieth - and I offered him the rose I'd been delicately clutching for about an hour. As he reached out to take it, his fingers brushed mine, and all of a sudden, I could feel them again, and then he kissed me, light and chaste, which was something he hadn't done in awhile, and I was relieved. There are no words for how relieved I was, you know, that he'd opened the door, and at that moment, I promised I'd always open the door for him, too, even if I never said it out loud. I think he knows, anyway. Me and Sean, we always wait for each other.

And when I kissed him back, I felt him smile against my lips, and I was very, very glad that I didn't care about looking stupid or getting frostbite on my fingertips or having arthritis in my left knee where I knelt in the snow because it would be much, much more than a shame to lose this (the golden lashes and summer blue eyes and pianist fingers).

Later, in the morning, he'd probably smile in that slow, lazy way - for my benefit, mostly, because he knows how much I love that smile - and say something about how if this was what he got in return, then I could forget our anniversary any day. In the morning, I would groan and bury my face in his stomach and apologize a million times over. In the morning, he'd laugh and say that I could make it up with chocolates and my oh-so-brilliant cooking (which is part of the irresistibility, you know). In the morning, we'd have breakfast - well-flavored omelettes with cheese danishes for his sweet tooth and orange juice because, "Milk is barbaric". In the morning, we'd smile at each other shyly, as if we were on our first date, even if the touch of familiar heat behind it all gave it away.

But now... Now is for touching. Because, you know, it's a tradition, and since we'd already broken one, it would be bad to break the other, too.

Yes, sir. Traditions are good things.