Noah and I sat together under a peach tree in the orchard outside the abbey. We were close enough to the water to hear the tide rolling in and to smell the salty sea air. This was one of our favorite places to get away for an hour or two. I liked seeing Noah able to be at peace now that he was free.
“I killed this for you.” He handed me a tiny crocus that had been growing at the foot of the tree.
“Thanks.” I laughed. “You’ve been quiet today.”
He grunted without answering. I couldn’t see his face from where I was sitting between his legs with his arm around me.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” he paused. “So… you happy with all this?”
“It’s your birthday and I don’t know if there’s something you wanted done that was different than just this.”
“You know it’s my birthday?” I was shocked. It wasn’t something we had ever talked about and to be honest, it had mostly slipped my mind up until now.
“March 13th,” Noah stated.
“How do you know that?”
“I followed you back to your hometown when you went to visit your folks’ grave with the Italian last year. I wanted to know more about you, so I did some looking around.”
“And you called him creepy when he did something similar? You could’ve just asked, you big dope.”
“Everybody knows it’s only creepy if you’re not hot.” I felt him take something from his pocket. “Here.”
“How—where did you get this?” I stared at the picture in his hand. It was an old polaroid of me when I was twelve and went with my parents on a camping trip. We didn’t have the best time, but looking back on it now my heart pined to return to that moment with them.
“I went to the police station where they still had a file on your parents’ death. Trashed the place real good.” He sounded extra proud of himself for that last part. “This was the picture they must’ve found at your house to release to the paper.”
“You’ve been holding onto this all that time?” I hugged his arm while looking at the picture and trying not to cry.
“Yeah. I didn’t know when to give it to you. Figured now’s as good a time as any, I guess.”
I put the photo in my pocket so I could kiss him.
“Now I feel bad for not knowing your birthday,” I said after a tender interlude of locking lips.“It’s November 18th, but I’ve already got everything I want right here,” he grinned and grabbed me by the seat of my pants. “We could sneak away to Thailand like I’ve been saying for how many years now? Maybe even take a picture of our own.”