I stayed and played the guitar until I heard the rumble of Beast'sbelle's truck pulling into the driveway. In a panic, I jumped up from my place in the living room and tore down the hallway. Just in time, too. The moment I crossed the threshold of Beast'sbelle's room, I heard the door to the house open and the humans enter. Whew. That was too close.
I hid my guitar underneath the 18 inchers' rooms. I wasn't quite ready to show it to Robby yet, but I had a plan. I would practice until I could play a song perfectly. Then I would play for him instead of sing. It was brilliant...and hopefully it would be more successful than my attempt today. :}
As I climbed onto our home on top of the curio, I saw that Emilie was already asleep in her bed. Thank you, Rapunzel, I thought gratefully. At least she was more attentive than I had been.
I also noticed that the string of Christmas lights we'd used on our old shelf was back up. I loved the warm glow the lights left. It made the room bright and happy even in the evening hours.
Robby was waiting up for me in the sitting room, although he'd already spread out our blanket and pillow. He watched me carefully as I came in.
"Hi," I said nervously.
He gave me a smile. "Hi, yourself," he responded.
We were both quiet for a while.
"I like the lights," I offered.
He nodded. "Eugene helped me put them back up."
An awkward silence hung between us once more.
I finally took a seat beside him. "I'd...um...I'd like to apologize for before. It didn't exactly go the way I'd planned."
Robby nodded. "I could tell something was bothering you."
I wanted to explain everything to him right then and there, but somehow I found it difficult to begin.
Robby seemed to sense this. He patted the blanket beside him. "Come here," he said. "Let me help you with your hair."
I smiled and took my place. This had become one of our new traditions. Robby loved helping me with my hair at the end of the day, and I loved having him play with it once all the claws or bands had been removed.
I sat quietly as he carefully pulled the claws from my brown locks. Having someone play with my hair always relaxed me.
"So," he said as he removed the last claw, "do you want to talk about it?"
I separated my flyaway strands with my fingers and turned to face him. "I..." I stopped for a moment, still trying to find the right words. Then I realized that the best method was probably to just say it. "I was going to sing for you today," I blurted out. "But I completely froze...and then I was embarrassed...and then you got a headache from that stupid candle...and...yeah...the whole thing was pretty much a disaster."
My husband looked amused. "Is that all?"
I dropped my hands to my lap. "How can you say that? It's what you've been wanting me to do since we've been married!"
Robby shook his head. "Sweetheart," he said, tenderly tucking a strand of hair back from my face, "you don't need to stress about it so much. Of course I would love to have you sing for me, but I don't want you panicking about it like this. I said I'd wait until you were ready, and I meant it."
Tears came to my eyes. "But...but I really wanted to be ready for you today," I whispered. "I just couldn't quite do it..."
He smiled at me warmly. "When you're ready, you'll know, Belle."
I sniffed and wiped my eyes in exasperation. "I'm probably the only Disney Princess doll in the world who hasn't sung to her husband yet," I muttered.
Robby pulled me back so I was leaning against him. "Even if you never sing for me," he said quietly, "I'll still be glad I married you."
"Really?" I asked in a small voice.
I heard him chuckle. "Of course, you silly goose." He played with the ends of my hair. "And just so you know, I don't need a big production with all the bells and whistles. You don't need to go to so much trouble." He must have realized how this comment might come across (and to be honest, I was feeling a bit miffed), so he added, "I do appreciate you doing all that for me...but..." He stopped himself again.
I turned to look up at him.
"I guess what I'm trying to say is...I hate to see you stress over making it this 'perfect moment' when that's not as important to me. I mean, you could just belt something out randomly in the middle of dinner and I'd be perfectly content."
I wrinkled my nose at this less-than-romantic thought, and he laughed. "Okay, maybe there's a happy medium somewhere."
He sat up and cradled my cheek in his hand. "Just know that I love you, Belle, no matter what sort of grand notions or plans get into your head and whether or not you accomplish them." He kissed me gently, and as he pulled back, he held me in his warm gaze.
To be loved so fully, so completely, was almost more than I could bear. I couldn't understand it at all, but my little plastic heart was soaring.
I slowly stood up. "I need to get changed. I'll be back in just a minute."
He winked. "I'll be right here."
As I pulled off my sparkly gown and slipped into my comfy green frock, the things he'd said were playing over and over in my mind. Maybe I had been stressing about everything being perfect. The perfect setting. The perfect song. The perfect voice. And boy, had Beast'sbelle been right. He loved me for me. Singing off-key or not singing at all wouldn't change that...I was sure of it. How had I ended up with such a wonderful doll?
I crept softly back into the sitting room. Robby lay awake, watching me as I came over to him. And suddenly it came again, that urge to sing, but this time so powerful and wondrous that I knew no amount of biting my lip or clamping my mouth shut would hold it back. It was as if all of the love and gratefulness I held within me for him was bursting forth in a song I couldn't contain. I leaned over him, and from my lips flowed the opening lines of "Healing Incantation", the song that had eluded me just hours earlier.
The look on his face was priceless. I know I messed up most of the notes, and I think I even missed a few of the words. But oh, the adoration that spread across his features was the best gift he could offer me. It gave me the courage to sing on. Never before had I felt more cherished, more connected with this doll I'd married.
I continued singing softly as I lay down next to him, draping my arm across his chest. I found it was a bit easier to sing to him when I didn't have to gaze into his eyes.
As the last few notes left my lips, my husband lifted his voice and began the first few lines of Eugene's solo from "I See the Light". And before I knew it, I was joining him on the chorus. (I have to admit, even in the middle of such a sweet moment, I found it a bit humorous that we were singing songs from the "wrong" movie.) ;)
Be glad you didn't hear it. A typical Disney performance it was not. Well, Robby was amazing, but me? Just be grateful you weren't subjected to such a poor rendition of songs from "Tangled". ;) But amazingly, my husband told me again and again how beautiful my voice was, and how beautiful I was, and he thanked me for giving him such a precious gift. To think that I put myself through all of this misery for so long...and it was totally fine! I suppose many of the things we stress and worry about are like that, though. Usually the problem is not nearly as horrible as we make it. :}
When we had finished singing, we both drifted off to sleep, wrapped in a warm embrace and dreaming pleasant dreams.
That is, until a little voice interrupted.
We both sat up. Emilie stood at edge of our blanket, clutching her Beast doll and trembling.
"What is it, sweetie?" I asked her sleepily.
"I had a bad dream," she whimpered.
I smiled sympathetically. "Come here, Darling," I said, holding out my arms.
She scrambled up over the covers and snuggled in my lap. Robby propped up the pillow behind us and spread the blanket around her.
And then, almost before I realized what I was doing, I started humming a soft song. Emilie looked up at me with surprise, but a sweet little smile came to her lips. She nestled her head against me and closed her eyes.
I felt Robby's strong arm wrap itself around my shoulders, and suddenly his deep, rich voice was humming along with me. He stayed firmly on key, while I drifted in and out between his notes, sometimes humming the right thing, sometimes not. Yet he looked down at me as if I were the most talented singer in all of creation.
Emilie was asleep within minutes. I leaned my head against Robby's. "I love you," I whispered.
He gazed down at me so tenderly that I wanted to cry. "I love you, too, Sweetheart," he whispered back, squeezing my shoulder with his hand.
I knew that eventually we should move Emilie back to her room and go to sleep again, but for now, I just wanted to hold onto this beautiful moment. When I was old and nearly bald and my plastic had started deteriorating, I would look back on this time with fondness.
And I would probably sing about it.