Two silhouettes sat next to each other on a bench. Arm in arm, looking out over the East River, towards Manhattan. The woman placed her head on the man’s shoulder. He turned to her smiling. He kissed her softly on the forehead.
“This is perfect,” she said.
She looked out over towards the setting sun. The Staten Island Ferry was leaving port in the distance. The river reflected a thousand tiny suns. Behind them, a family of three walked by, the baby squealing as the mother fawned over her.
“Yeah,” the man said and gazed at the Manhattan skyline, watching the millions of windows reflecting the dying light. He crossed his legs and ran his fingers down her arm.
“What?” she asked. She looked at his face. He gazed quietly at the cityscape, but momentarily broke his gaze to meet hers.
“Nothing,” he said.
“Are you sure?” She seemed to sense something tense within him.
“Yeah, it’s nothing,” he tried to assure her. She didn’t believe him.
“Today was perfect,” she said out loud, but to herself. She smiled, remembering having lunch at a Lebanese restaurant with him earlier in the day. She remembered joking about having to climb yet another staircase at the New York Public Library. He had offered to pick her up and fireman carry her throughout the city.
“It was,” he said. “But the day isn’t over. Yet.”
She nodded. He put his hand on her face and leaned in to kiss her. She closed her eyes and felt his lips press against hers. He leaned back and sighed.
“This is a perfect day,” he said. He looked over at her and smiled.
“Are you making fun of me?” she asked, in a mock-annoyed tone.
“I’m serious,” he said. “It’s been a great day.” He placed his hand on hers and their fingers grabbed at each other. He smiled and looked at her serene face. He saw the faint dimples and the curves of her face and the way her eyes smiled when she laughed. He knew he was lost in the depths of her emerald eyes.
“What?” she asked. “What are you thinking about?”
He tightened his hold on her hand.
“Nothing,” he said. He could feel the anxiety rising up inside him.
“No, you’re thinking about something. Tell me,” she pressed.
He turned his gaze to the city. “I’m just thinking about how much I care about you,” he said.
She smiled at him. He didn’t look at her. She put her head on his shoulder. She could smell his cologne. She took his hand and put it on her leg.
“Your hands are cold,” she said. “Let me warm them up.”
He grinned. They watched a tour boat sail along the river.
“I never want to leave here,” she said. She ran her finger along his.
“Don’t,” he said.
“I feel like I belong here,” she said.
“I do too,” he said. “I feel like this is my city.”
“I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”
He nodded. “I can’t either,” he said.
He put his head against hers.
“Do you remember the first day we met?” he asked.
She did. “Why?” she asked.
“Just wondering,” he said.
“That was like almost six months ago,” she said.
“It’s been that long?”
He met her at a large department store in New York City. She was working. He wasn’t. He asked her where he could find winter boots. She led him to the section. They struck up a conversation. He ended up asking her out for lunch. She was hesitant, but she agreed in the end. They had lunch at a small restaurant on 5th Avenue in Midtown. He talked about writing, she talked about biology. They connected over music. They connected over movies and TV shows and favorite actors and actresses. They laughed over Twitter. They argued over music. They promised to have dinner again when they weren’t busy. They didn’t see each other for another month, but they were in contact online and through text messages. They started to see each other regularly after the new year. They entered into a relationship at a winetasting event. She asked him if they were together and he said yes.
“This sunset is so beautiful,” she said.
“It is,” he said. He glanced over at her and felt anxiety welling up again inside him.
She looked up at him, her eyes smiling, her lips slightly apart.
“What?” she asked.
He kissed her.
“What is it?” she asked again.
He was silent. Finally, he leaned into her and whispered into her ear.
“I love you,” he said.
She turned to him. The sun cast a shadow over her. The glowing red light surrounded the two. There was an insurmountable silence. Slowly, she smiled and quietly kissed the man. The two were locked in a momentary but genuine embrace. And there was nothing. Just the dying red sunset reining over the muted Manhattan skyline.