[All photos from Unsplash]
This is a serial telling of my falling-in-love story. Read the story from the very beginning here.
I have decided to give you up – no more wanting to be with you so bad that it’s all I can think and talk and pray about. From now on, surrender, no expectation, openness. Or, you know, as best as I can. And like Father Abraham, I decide to burn something to mark the moment – obviously.
At the end of bible study, we stood in the foyer as friends filed out, and you handed me two woodblock prints you’d made at my request. The week before, I had noticed you hand one to another friend. I had studied hers, and then I had asked you make one for me, too.
So that week, with your square hands, you had pressed the carved linoleum blocks into black ink, and then you had pressed the ink onto thick cream paper.
Today, you handed me the finished prints. Wow,” I said, staring at the designs. Then I looked up, frowning. “But come to think of it, I only ordered one.”
You said, “I couldn’t remember which you wanted, so I thought I’d make you both.”
I laughed and said, “Fine, you convinced me. They’re both great.”
I studied them again, while you make plans to grab a beer with Anthony. On the first print, a hand-drawn vine had been imprinted on the paper, circled by a verse from John 15. On the second, a drawing of a large hand held a small one within it, and this time, the words of Matthew 18:3 edge the piece: “Truely I say to you: unless you turn and become like children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
“Although,” I said, looking at you sideways, as you turned to look at me, “I’m not sure if you noticed, but I think ‘truly’ is misspelled.” I grimaced. “Ugh, sorry, that’s so snobbish. I shouldn’t have mentioned it. I really do love them both. Thanks.”
But you just chuckled and said, “I realized that later, after I’d carved it.”
“Of course,” I said, rolling my eyes and smiling. “So, how much do I owe you?”
“I don’t know,” you said, “Maybe five bucks?”
“No way,” I said. “For two? I can double that easily.” And I handed you a couple of crinkled bills from my pocket.
The next day, I am standing in my aunt and uncle’s driveway with a box of matches and a tin coffee can as the sun sets. I am holding one of your prints in my hand, the one with the vine. I bend down toward the cement and set the print standing up inside the can, leaning on the brim. I open the matchbox and remove a match, which I strike. It lights, and I hold the lit match to the edge of the print.
Then I step backwards and watch. The flame spreads, engulfing the print. The paper turns to ash and the heat carries it into the air in pieces while the ink melts, the words on the paper flying upward: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me will bear much fruit.”
After a few minutes, nothing remains but gray soot in the blackened can. When the mixture has cooled, I dip a finger into the can and rub the ash between my fingers, compelled to examine the transformation. Then I tip the remains into a plastic Ziploc bag. I say to myself, “To remember this by.”
I am writing and serially publishing scenes from my falling-in-love memoir, about the anguished, beautiful, and spiritual way that my husband and I met, fell in love, and married.
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