Jules A Riley

Just the Way We Were

“Why are you smiling?” Ludvik strapped himself in, staring at Asdis, who seemed lost in her own world.

“Sorry. I was deep in thought.”

“What’s making you smile?”

“I was thinking about the fun we’ve had.”

“I’ve enjoyed our break,” Ludvik said.

“Just the break? What about the last ten years?”

“Ten years … that long?”

“We’re the world’s longest courting couple.”

“You know how it is. Difficult. My mother, and your father who is … stubborn…”

“Yes, I know.” Asdis turned to gaze out of the window, holding back tears.

When Ludvik had found the bargain offer of four nights in an Edinburgh hotel over the New Year, Asdis had seen it as an escape. Ludvik’s domineering mother took the huff. Asdis’s went into a state of apoplexy. Ludvik mentioned for the first time that he loved all things Scottish and really wanted a kilt.

During the flight the pilot announced that the weather in Edinburgh was stormy. There was a chance that Hogmanay celebrations would be cancelled.

These predictions became reality; the promised street party never materialised. Instead, they spent the evening in comfort, gazing out at a windswept, rain-lashed city, as magical as they had imagined. The old town was illuminated; the castle’s shadowed form distorted by rain drops on each pane of glass. They watched the firework display as if it were all their own.

As the fireworks climaxed, they made love without the clandestine urgency that accompanied such moments back home. In the midst of it, Asdis screamed, “This is much better than in the back of a SAAB!”

At the point of no return, Ludvik grunted, as he always did.

As the plane descended towards Keflavik, Asdis turned to Ludvik and squeezed his hand.

“How often have you asked Papa if you can marry me?”

“Twenty … thirty times?”

“We don’t need his permission.”

“I know. But it’s traditional…”

“I am twenty-six. You’re thirty-two. Just marry me, Ludvik.”

“I don’t want to upset him. He gets angry.”

“Let him. He’ll come round to the idea. We broke his hold by going on holiday. If he had his way I’d never leave home.”

“I just want things done properly.”

“Marry me. We can return to Edinburgh, get married in the castle. People do that. You could wear your kilt. You looked so handsome when you tried it on in the shop.”

“That kilt. I will not wear that kilt.”

“You told me you wanted a kilt.”

“A real Scottish one. Not one made in China.” Ludvik pulled from her grip.

“When will we get married, Ludvik?”

He stayed silent for the rest of the flight.