“Will you marry me?” Romeo stuttered out, holding a simple blade of grass from the river bank next to him.
“I-” Elmer furiously rubbed his eyes, trying to clear the tears so he could see his now fiancé as he nodded. He couldn’t care less how red his eyes became as long as he spent the rest of his life with the boy that knelt in front of him.
The other boy’s fingers were soft when holding his hand, delicately tying the blade of grass into a ring. The years of hard work from being a newspaper boy to the owner of a high-end restaurant never showed on Romeo. His hands were still as soft as when he did his first paper round with Elmer. Sure, they both had their fair share of scars on their hands from falling off skateboards during the oh so tragic emo phase. The odd tan lines from the bracelets they still wear every day because they could never untie them just served as good memories from their teenage years. They both knew that they had grown so much in a short amount of time, both barely breaking out of their twenties and having earned thousands of pounds rapidly. Elmer becoming a viral youtuber turned movie director and Romeo now owning a chain of restaurants across the USA, they were both much more than those newspaper boys who earned no more than $15 per round of deliveries. It was still foreign to them to be able to spend money on luxury items such as expensive electronics and jewellery. They no longer had to save up their own money to buy a new shirt at the end of the week.
“I know it’s just a blade of grass. I thought with all this money we have now a sparkling engagement ring would mean nothing.” Romeo sighed. “I remember when we would be thankful to get a bag of candy with the change we got and now we can buy as much as we want. The first one we bought together we came here and sat making jewellery out of the grass. We pretended to be gangsters like Al Capone and their ridiculous amount of rings, thinking that neither of us would be able to afford it.” They both laughed at the memory, gripping onto each other’s hands as they sat on the riverbank. “I still have that first ring we made. It’s sitting in a velvet box in my bedroom drawer to keep it from breaking. I found it when I moved out. It was frail then. It’s changed since we first made it, so has our relationship. We’ve grown more mature. I’d like to go back to the day we met when our rounds crossed.”
“I’d like to tell us to stop the pining and get on with it already.” Elmer chuckled. “Don’t you think that I didn’t notice you staring at my ass that day."
"I was trying to be romantic. You had to ruin it didn’t you.” Romeo rolled his eyes, slightly pushing his fiancé.
“You’ve never been one to live up to your name."
"Yeah, yeah, Elmo."
"So when’s the wedding?”
“That was the most common question we had up until the diagnosis. We both commented it to each other throughout the hospital appointments, trying to cheer each other up. But it got harder. When he was in the hospital, we smiled, we made the most of our time together. I watched as he slowly turned into a ghost. He looked dead a week before he was. I couldn’t stand watching him die, but I still went daily. I had the hope that he would make a miraculous recovery and that I could be there as any form of support that I could. I watched him cry about what was happening to him, about how our wedding would never come. The one thing that never happened was that blade of grass leaving his finger. I treasured our time together. I treasured every kiss we shared. I treasured the last seventeen years of my life because he was there to support me.” Romeo took a deep breath, gently brushing away the tears from his face. He looked down at his hand that was holding the paper, the grey leaf that wrapped around his finger was the focus of his attention for a moment. He thought about that day again, the days they were both healthy. He looked back up at their friends and family, ignoring the heavy atmosphere and the ocean of black. He gripped the stand, knuckles turning white before he recomposed himself. “I just wish that he was still here, that this would be a wedding speech, not a eulogy. I hoped that I could have seen him walk down the aisle. Now, I have hope that I can get through this, that we can work through our loss. He said I had a way with words and now I’m hoping that he was right. He wouldn’t want us to focus on his last days, he would want us to focus on his first viral video or that time he had that bruise that made him look like a unicorn. We just need to remember him. Not the illness that took him down.”