By Ryan Mooney
The phone rings.
Still nothing on the third and I begin to feel the panic rise through my stomach into my throat. It rings a fourth time and the knot swells. Shit, she’s not home, I’m thinking, then…
“Hello,” she says. Two syllables, so simple, so real, so American. My knees buckle, I catch myself.
“Hey baby,” I say.
With each step the sidewalk, it lengthens and a few hundred feet feels like a few million miles.
“Hey you! How are you?” the tenor, the love, it resonates through my heart, shaking me to my very foundation.
“I’m good. It’s hotter than hell here, though," my voice cracks like puberty, "and I miss you.”
“I miss you too," she says, " What time is it there?” It’s beyond cute how she always asks this.
“It’s O’ three hundred hours.”
“Three O’clock," I can feel the dam holding me back beginning to crack, the river beginning to brim, "Ha! I’m getting good!” she says.
I laugh, almost cry at this, thinking, Jesus, I am so crazy in love with you.
“How’s my baby doing?” I ask taking the first step onto the porch.
“Great. I saw there was heavy fighting in Pakistan. Are you still stationed there?”
The front door is larger than I remember. A dark stained oak with a flowered wreath hanging from a nail. This wasn’t here two years ago.
Step two onto the porch.
I notice the faded paint; chipped away from two years of weather and I find it unbelievably refreshing.
“No. Amer-," I slip up, waiting for her to recognize the waver in my voice, "-Afghanistan. It’s North of Pakistan.” My heart is drumming loud in my ears. I swear a boxer is in there trying to uppercut his way out.
“Oh good”, she says, “I was worried.”
I pull a small velvet box from my pocket, open it and a small rainbow casts itself across the siding of the house.
“It’s ok,” I say, “Nothing to worry about.” Looking at the diamond, the spectrum fractured into millions of pieces colors the drab browns and tans of my fatigues, I forget that the door I'm standing in front of is part of my home.
I pick a weed from between the cracks of the porch; American soil, so beautiful, so free. Nostalgia coursing through me like a broken faucet.
I ring the doorbell.
“Oh shit. Someone’s at the door.” she tells me, unaware.
The heavy drumming, it continues and I’m dizzy with nerves. Trembling, my vision blurs and a wetness forms in the corners of my eyes.
I lower myself. The reflection in the storm door reveals a man with fuzz covering his face, blue eyes set against a faux-vacation tan and all I can think is, I really should have shaved.
This is how long it feels before the door...
It swings open.
I’m on one knee.
Car bombs, land mines, gunfire. The total and utter silence of walking into an abandoned building, weapons trained on nothing, eyes focused on everything and brain expecting anything, is nothing compared to the nerves surging through me right now.
And then, she’s there.
My porch, my house, my yard, my country; it's all miniscule compared to her brilliance.
The phone drops. Plastic and wire scatter into the foyer.
The box drops. Velvet and diamond scatter across the porch.
American flags, Crackerjacks and Ford's. Apple pie and baseball.
Standing just beyond the storm door she’s wearing an old shirt of mine. It’s too big and lazy on her, but it doesn’t matter. Her brown hair is now a fake red. And it, too, doesn’t matter.
I gasp and forget what I’m about to say. It still doesn’t matter though, because look at her. Jesus, take a good, hard look at her.
She is my Americana.
“Will you marry me?” I ask.
A tear. A flow of tears.
“Oh my God!” she exclaims, throwing open the door, “yes!”