So this is my first story, and it's nothing fancy - just a one-shot that I hope will make you think or warm your heart. I don't care if your views coincide exactly with the ones demonstrated here, so don't leave ignorant, angry reviews please. Enjoy the story!
It was the third time he had asked her to hang out on a Sunday morning.
He didn't mean anything by it, she was confident of that. He just didn't think about it.
"I can't hang out then, actually," she said, hand gripping the phone tightly. They would have to talk about it. "Are you free a little later? Like, five-ish? We could go to the park..." She listened. "Okay. See you there."
She had known, as soon as they started dating, as soon as she learned he was Muslim, that they would have to talk about the whole religion thing. It had been five months now, and she blamed herself - she should have brought it up sooner.
She was just...scared. What if he hadn't really thought about it, and now that he did, he didn't want to be with her anymore? What if the difference was too much? She buried her face in her free hand, phone still in the other.
After five months...this was the best relationship she had ever been in. Being around him still felt like electricity in her veins. He made her laugh. She remembered the day they fought, and he showed up at her house with a bouquet and a goldfish in a plastic bag. She saw the bouquet and felt like crying, then saw the goldfish and burst out laughing. He was like that - spontaneous and sweet.
She just didn't want to lose him.
The autumn wind raked its chill fingers through her hair as she slammed the car door. She looked around, pushing her hair out of her face, and saw him sitting on a park bench. He waved when he saw her coming, and his face lit up like a little kid's. She couldn't help but smile back.
"Hey! How are you?" He stood up and immediately took her hand. She felt the flutter in her stomach that was still there after five months.
"Great." She forced the smile from her face and got directly to the point. "But...I think...I think we need to talk."
"Okay." His face immediately changed along with hers. She knew he sensed that this was serious.
They started walking down the asphalt path that circled their favorite park. This was where she had asked him out - yes, she asked him out. He had laughed with relief and said, "I'm so glad you said it, because there was no way I was going to be able to work up the courage to."
She took a deep breath. Just go. "So...the reason I couldn't hang out this morning. I, um...I was at church."
It was like she could feel the shift in his emotion. Now he knew exactly what they were going to be talking about - she could feel it.
She squeezed the hand that wasn't holding his into a fist. "And...I mean...I just want you to know that I know that you're not Christian, and to be perfectly honest, I don't know whether I'm Christian myself. I think I'm too young to know that for sure." She kept her eyes trained on the asphalt beneath her. "I just know that my family is more religious than I am personally, and...I just think that we should talk about this whole thing."
"Right," he said after a short pause. She still didn't look up at him. "I mean, I knew you were probably Christian, or non-religious, or something, but I didn't know, and I didn't really know how to talk to you about it. I - I guess I didn't want you to get offended, or...or I didn't want you to like me less because of my religion." He ran a hand through his hair. "I didn't want you to start thinking of me differently. Like...a stereotype, I guess."
She blew a breath out, puffing up her cheeks. Just say exactly what you're thinking. "Here's where I stand." She stopped walking, turned to face him. She looked directly in his amber eyes. This wasn't something you could say through a text or over a phone. This was something she needed him to hear in person. She couldn't risk this being misinterpreted. This was too precious to type out on a screen.
"I couldn't give less of a shit what you believe in. I wouldn't care if you were an Atheist, agnostic, Jew, Buddhist, Daoist, Satanist - you could worship that trash can over there and I wouldn't care. You know what I care about? I care that you make me laugh. I care that you're not afraid to tell me the truth. I care that we're comfortable around each other and that we have something...something beautiful here. We have squirt gun fights. I've seen your brother in his boxers. We had that picnic - it was just over there, remember? And it turned into a two-person food fight." She paused to remember, watching his face. She took a deep breath and plowed on.
"You make my day just by smiling at me in the hallway. Being - being around you is like I have everything I want." She refused to break eye contact. This was the hardest thing she had ever said. "And yeah, we're just in high school. If I'm being realistic, we're not going to get married. We're not going to last forever. But...if I'm not being realistic...if we're just going with what we're feeling..." She closed her eyes briefly, then opened them and smiled at him. "I love you. And I don't care what religion you choose to believe in, I still love you."
For a moment, they regarded each other, and it was like she had never seen him before. It was like they were starting over.
Then he said, "I'm trying to think of the perfect thing to say. Something really sweet that will even hold a candle to that. Because I agree with absolutely everything you said, and I love you too, and I - I'm so relieved you feel that way. But..." He bit his lip as she started to laugh. "I don't think you can put the pressure on me to say something equal to your speech."
She didn't think about it, she just reached up, wrapped her arms around his shoulders, and pressed her lips to his. It was a brief kiss, but it said everything. It said 'I love you' and it said 'I know we'll work it out', but at the same time it said 'is it crazy to hope that we'll stay together in spite of this?'
There, in the cool autumn evening, under the brightly colored trees, it didn't seem crazy at all.
Thanks so much for reading! Please let me know what you thought(: