The One and Future Forever by Lily Sawyer
Ben rarely listened to the news on TV anymore—it was too depressing. He wasn’t interested in politics and he was tired of hearing about the economy. Ben knew only too well how bad things were. He could see it reflected in the real estate market he was a part of. Houses were selling better now, but there had been a time when he thought he was going to lose his job.
Tom, his life partner, his heart, and his whole world was another reason he refused to watch the news. He’d never forget the time he saw Tom’s fire company there. Firemen had been hurt when a roof caved in ; Ben stood helplessly by, watching the news report. A dreaded phone call had followed. Ben never remembered driving to the hospital that day, his heart in his throat. His world stopped until Tom’s best friend and fellow firefighter, Steve, assured him Tom was going to be okay.
Ben used to jump when the phone rang late at night, or if there was a knock at the door while Tom was on duty. But after a long heart to heart talk with Tom, he decided to stop driving himself crazy thinking the worst was going to happen.
They both knew that being a firefighter was a dangerous profession, one that Tom had chosen, and that while losing Tom was a possibility, it was by no means a probability, and Ben was going to enjoy each and every day he had his lover in his life.
Ben had decided to spend his day off at the mall. Tom’s birthday was coming up, and getting a gift for a man like Tom was a challenge. One of Tom’s hobbies was fishing. During the nice weather he loved going to the local lake and fish off the pier, or hire a boat and go out. He tried to get Ben interested , but the idea of baiting a hook turned his stomach, and going out on a boat… let’s just say that wasn’t going to happen—he was a landlubber. Sure, Tom was disappointed that Ben wasn’t going to share his love of fishing with him but, like the good-natured guy he was, he didn’t hold it against him. He just smiled and said he’d go out there himself and land a fish for his man.
Ben ended up buying Tom a new tackle box and a creel case. He was walking back to the other end of the mall, towards the exit, when something caught his eye.
Ben stood in front of Buster’s Jewelry store and gazed at the assorted pieces displayed in the front window. The silver wedding bands had caught his eye. He and Tom hadn’t talked about marriage, but after almost five years together, maybe it was time. New York had just approved gay marriage last year, and DC had too, and it looked like Maryland was going to get on the band wagon too. It was just a shame Pennsylvania hadn’t gotten their act together yet. Ben didn’t want to wait until they did to tie the knot.
‘Should or shouldn’t I?’ He weighed his impulsive decision before he put one foot in front of the other, and there he was inside the store, looking at the rings. Did he really want to do this?
Tom was in the locker room, changing out of his gear. Being a firefighter, you never knew what each day brought. Today they’d started the day by rescuing a puppy that got caught in a drainage pipe in someone’s backyard. The rest of the day had been quiet. Tom kept busy doing inventory on the supplies. By the middle of his shift, he was getting bored, and his mind wandered to thoughts of Ben, wishing he was home snuggling with him.
“Do you have any big plans for your days off, Tom?” Tom started at the sound of Steve’s voice.
“No, I think Ben and I are just going to chill. What about you and Debra, got any special plans?”
He and Ben had become good friends with Steve and his wife.
“We’re sending the kids to the grandparents and planning a date night. You and Ben should come over on Sunday.”
“Thanks, Steve, I’ll check with Ben and give you a call.” Tom couldn’t get home fast enough. He just wanted to see Ben’s face so bad, and feel his arms around him.
“Ben?” he called out when he opened the front door.
“I’m in here, Tom.”+
Tom’s nose was greeted by the wonderful smell of dinner; it made his stomach rumble. “What’s all this?” Their dining room table had a red tablecloth on it, their best china, candles, and two wine glasses.
“I wanted to welcome my man home in style.” Ben kissed him, “I made your favorite, chicken and dumplings.”
“Ben.” He finally was where he wanted to be, in his man’s arms.
Ben was uncharacteristically quiet all through dinner.
“What’s wrong, Ben?” Tom knew something was up. They were in the kitchen, cleaning up the dishes together.
“I’m sorry, sweetheart, I just…”Ben sighed, “I don’t know how to do this.”
“Do what? Ben, you’re scaring me.”
“Let’s go into the living room.”
Tom followed him.
“Please sit down.”
Tom’s heart felt like it was going to break out of his chest. ‘He’s breaking up with me, he’s not happy. I spend too much time at work… he can’t handle the dangers of my job.’ His mind raced with all these negative thoughts.
“I’m sorry, ,” he said as he sat down opposite Ben.
“Sorry for what?” Ben said curiously.
“For whatever I did wrong.”
“Oh, baby, you didn’t do anything. I wasn’t sure how to do this so bear with me.” He took a deep breath and took Tom’s hand. “The first time I saw you, I just knew I’d found my soul mate, my lover, my best friend.” He got down on one knee, took out the ring box. “I love you so much, will you marry me?”
Tom’s mouth dropped on the floor, he gazed into Ben’s eyes then at the silver ring in the box. There was only one answer that came into his head. “Yes.”