Yesterday morning was absolutely glorious, and Robby and I were dying to get outside. Beast'sbelle was kind enough to get the door for us so that we could spend some time together in the front yard. We'd thought about trying the backyard, but Belle'sbeast has been so busy with work that he hasn't had a chance to mow the backyard in a long time. We were afraid we'd get lost if we braved that jungle!
So, we had to be content with a ramble through the front lawn. Honestly, neither one of us minded. We're both eagerly looking forward to our wedding, and since it will be held out front, we've grown very attached to the place. ;)
It was the perfect morning for a stroll. The weather was warm, but not as overwhelmingly hot as it would be later in the afternoon. Robby and I held hands and "took a few turns about the lawn" (can you tell I've spent some time with Tess lately?) ;)
I was especially thrilled with the beautiful, deep burgundy roses that were blooming in the middle of the lawn. They grew in two sections and almost formed a natural trellis. I found myself wondering if they would still be blooming in two weeks.
It wasn't long before I could recognize the telltale signs that Robby's hip and knee were wearing out. His stamina has greatly improved with time and exercise, but there's still only so much time he can spend on his feet before he has to take a rest. He doesn't like admitting this, but I can always tell when it's time for a break. He lapses into silence so that he can concentrate on his walking. He grips my hand and the top of his cane a little tighter, and beads of perspiration form on his brow.
Whenever this happens, I have to figure out a way to help him without making him feel like a weakling or like a child that I'm mothering. Today, I went for the casual approach.
"I think this would be a nice place to sit for a while, don't you?" I said offhandedly.
Robby gave me a knowing look. "Subtle, dear."
I looked up at him. "What?"
He smiled and squeezed my hand. "Yes, I'd like to sit down now, thank you..."
"I only meant..." I started to protest, worried that I'd hurt his feelings. But at that instant, Robby's face went pale and stopped me in my tracks.
"What is it?" I asked.
"The cat," he whispered.
I turned and looked. Coming across the lawn right toward us was a big orange tabby. I'd never seen him before, but Beast'sbelle was always complaining about the big, over-friendly cat who was constantly messing up her photo shoots. Still, she never said anything about it being dangerous, so I didn't understand Robby's fear. Then it hit me. The cat. This was the cat Robby had rescued from the pomegranate bush, the cat who in its panic had dragged him almost half a block, unaware that Robby's boot was trapped in its collar. The cat who had left my fiance with a permanent limp.
For one fleeting moment, I wanted to go attack it. This was his fault!! (Or hers...I really didn't know whether it was a girl or boy cat.) But then I thought over the whole scenario in my head. I thought of how frightened the cat must have been, trapped for who knows how long and waiting for rescue. Robby had helped it, but the cat must have still been terrified by the whole ordeal. It was only natural that it would have taken off running. How was it supposed to know that Robby couldn't get free from its collar?
I glanced back at Robby. His eyes were closed, and I knew that he must be reliving that moment too.
"Would you like to go back inside?" I asked gently.
He jumped a little at the sound of my voice and opened his eyes. Then a determined look came over his features. "No," he said, shaking his head firmly. "I've got to get used to being around it. Beast'sbelle says it's always coming over, and I'm not going to let that ruin our outside time together."
I turned back to the cat and stifled a gasp. It was right in front of us.
"Stay perfectly still," Robby whispered, "and maybe it will go away."
I answered by lightly pressing his hand. We both stood as still as statues, not even daring to breathe. (Breathing is optional for us dolls, you know...that's why you never see us breathing when we don't want you to! Of course, we've also perfected the art of shallow, undetected breathing, too.)
The cat walked right up to us, and then started to pass us from behind. As it passed Robby, it stopped to sniff his face curiously, almost as if it remembered him.
Then, losing interest, it walked on by and headed for Beastbelle's backyard.
As the cat wandered out of sight, we both let out a long slow breath. "Are you all right?" I asked Robby worriedly.
He nodded, but he still looked paler than usual.
"Why don't we sit for a while?" I suggested.
This time, he immediately took my advice with no comment. Once he was comfortably situated, he rubbed his forehead and let out another long breath.
"I just didn't expect that," he explained.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"It all came back," he continued. "The minute I saw that cat, it was as if I was reliving everything that day. It hit me out of nowhere!" He shook his head. "Just when I think I'm getting over it..."
"It takes time..." I soothed.
He sighed. "It's been 5 months, Belle. When am I finally going to be able to realize that this is my life now?"
"I don't know," I admitted sorrowfully. "I wish I had all the answers. I'm so proud of you, though," I said, stroking his cheek gently. "You've kept going when so many others would have given up. You haven't let your physical issues define you or change you. If anything, they've made you stronger."
He smiled and turned his face to kiss the palm of my hand. "I can't tell you how much it's meant to me to have you there cheering me on every step of the way. If I was going through this and having to watch you and Ben being all lovey-dovey together, I don't think I could have coped!"
I paused for a moment, trying to picture myself and Ben spending as much time together as Robby and I had for the past 5 months. Somehow, I couldn't imagine it.
I came back to the present to find Robby smiling at me. "What?" I asked.
"Do you know that you crinkle up your nose when you're thinking?" he said affectionately. "It's absolutely adorable."
I blushed and shook my head at this silly comment. I decided not to tell him that I wasn't adorable, because that would only lead to his insisting it even more.
I turned away and tried to think of something else to talk about. Right in front of me was a delicate rosebud. I reached out and gently touched it. "Aren't these roses lovely?" I asked.
Robby took the bait, but I could tell he was amused. "Yes," he agreed dutifully. "Beautiful."
"I wonder if they'll still be blooming by the end of May?" I mused. "I mean, if they were, we could do the wedding here instead of under the tree." I looked over our heads at the rest of the roses. "They almost form a perfect archway. We could stand right underneath them and it would look lovelier than anything I could do with handmade decorations!"
Robby kissed the top of my head. "As long as we're married by the end, we can stand anywhere you like."
"And as long as there's cake," I reminded him.
"Of course!" he agreed, grinning. He'd been very adamant about the cake throughout all of the planning. Not that he'd really been a part of the wedding plans. I figured out pretty early on that most of the stuff was not anything he was interested in. The dress, the location, the attendants, the guests, even the date didn't really matter to him...as long as we were married by the end. Rapunzel and Isabella had stepped in as confidants and fellow planners, and Tiana had expressed an interest in helping shortly after she'd arrived. This made it very convenient for Robby. He and Eugene could sit and talk while we girls worked out all of the little details.
I leaned back against his shoulder. "I think you'd be perfectly happy to just have a 2 minute ceremony with no frills whatsoever," I quipped.
He chuckled. "Well, what guy wouldn't? You really think the fancy wedding ceremony was the groom's idea?"
I smiled. "I guess not. Thanks for going through it anyway, though. I'd like the day to be special."
He put his arm around me. "It will be, no matter what happens. It will be our special day, even if everything doesn't go exactly as planned."
"Just 16 more days," I said slowly. "I can't believe it."
"It'll be here before we know it," Robby added.
As if on cue, we both lowered ourselves onto our backs and looked up at the beautiful blue sky. A slight breeze stirred the branches of the roses and covered us with their sweet fragrance. The sunlight danced on the grass and peeked through the rose tendrils, making patterns on our clothing and skin. The fluffy white clouds in the sky floated lazily by. It was the perfect way to end our morning.
I suddenly thought of something and turned to Robby. "If you could capture one memory and freeze it, what would it be?"
He thought for a moment. "Either our first kiss," he began, "or...that day when I first took you outside. It was one of the first times we spent almost a whole day together."
He looked over at me. "What about you?"
"This moment right now," I said happily. "Being here with you on a beautiful day, knowing exactly where we stand in our relationship, and having our wedding to look forward to."
Robby smiled. "Sounds like a good memory to freeze to me."
We went back to watching the clouds until it was time to go inside.