“I love you”, she said.
They were sitting on a bench under the almond tree, as they do every night. It had become their usual spot. This night was like any other night; cold, with different couples scattered around them. He had his hand around her shoulders and seemed to be lost in thought listening to a silent tune. She looked at his face and saw that faraway look that he normally had like he was looking into time itself. Not tonight, she thought and then jabbed him in the ribs with her elbow. That seemed to bring him back.
“Sorry”, he muttered, “I guess I was doing that again”.
“Yes, you were”
“OK then, I repeat, I am sorry”, he turned to face her, “what were you saying?”
“I said I love you”, she repeated.
“Oh, that?” he kept quiet and looked straight ahead. By now she was already getting annoyed. Why can’t he just say it back? , she thought. He started whistling a tune, and she was already opening her mouth to chew him out when he turned to face her and he had the smile.
“I know that you love me, Kay, and I love you too”. He said
“Was that so hard?”
“Was what so hard?” he said with a knowing smile.
“Telling me you love me too”
“No, it wasn’t hard at all. Why would you think it was hard for me?”
“Because of all the silence and the time it took you to say it back”
“Oh, does that bother you?”
“Yes, it does. You always take your time to say even the simplest of words. A common yes or no might take a full minute for you to say”
He burst out laughing. By now, she was ready to go back to her room. She was standing up when he reached out and held her hand.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry”, he said.
“It’s not funny”
“I know it’s not funny. It’s just that I didn’t realize you were timing how long I take to say my words”
“I wasn’t timing anything”, she defended, “I’m just making a point”
“And I got your point”, he stood up and went to kneel in front of her.
“What are you doing? Stop it” She was getting embarrassed.
“Just hold on” he said, he took her hand, and looked into her eyes for a few seconds until she looked away. “What does it matter if it takes me an hour to say what I want to say? All that matters is that I mean what I say, and I mean it when I say I love you”
“I know you do she said, but do you always have to take time before you say it?”
“No, I don’t”
“Then why do you do that?”
“Nothing really, I just like to see the look on your face when I do it”, he said
“Urgh!!! You, my love, are insufferable. I don’t get why you have to think about everything including love”
“Because someone has to do that for the two of us and you are happy not being that person so that leaves me”
“I hate you”
“I know, that’s why I love you too”