It’s just overwhelming sometimes, having this– having Mari, their life together. The rest of their lives together. Emotion crashes over Hazel like a wave just when she thinks she’s got a sense of the tides.
“Elle?” Mari asks, looking around over her shoulder and then turning outright, making a mess of the seams Hazel was lining up and probably sticking herself for her trouble. “Baby, what’s wrong?”
For her own part, Hazel has enough of her head about her to put down the pin in her hand before swiping at her tears and then grabbing up Mari’s hands in her own. She folds all four of them at her chin and says a prayer deep in her heart, bowed like she’s at an altar. “Nothing is wrong,” she manages to say. She looks up at Mari to show her the smile beneath the tears. “Not any more. This– I made clothes for you all these years, you know? And now…”
It’s not the first time Hazel has confessed this, but Mari’s breath still catches just like it did the first time. And just like the first time, she pulls Hazel close and says, “I wish I could’ve– I wish I’d been there to wear them for you, Elle.”
“You’re here now,” Hazel says. There’s still a part of her, young and selfish, that feels that it isn’t enough. But, God willing as He seems to be, they’re going to cram enough into however many years they have left. She gives Mari a last squeeze, breathes deep and draws away. She wipes at her face with one hand so that she can keep holding Mari with the other and crooks her smile. “And you’ll wear this dress for me, soon as I can get a hold of myself and get it made.”
“Take your time,” Mari whispers, leaning in to press her forehead against Hazel’s. There are tears shining in her eyes, not yet falling and left to be. She’s still got one arm around Hazel and she brushes her free hand against Hazel’s face– and through her hair, and down her arm, up again, across her back. Like she can’t stop touching her, and Hazel sure knows that feeling. “I’ve got a hold of you in the meantime, Elle– and I’m never letting you go again.”
Hazel pecks a kiss to Mari’s lips and says, “I’ll hold you to it.”