Barbara sat gazing dreamily into her mirror as she twirled her blonde curls between her fingers. She couldn't believe it could be true. It was actually her last date, er, lesson with Heathcliff. She sighed, then began to capture the reckless curls into a low bun. The room began to darken and Barbara moved to the window just in time to see the storm begin. She opened the window to let the fresh rain scent take over her bedroom. She sighed again. The calm rain seemed like a mirror to her as well. It reflected the sad, steady dread she had about finishing his lessons. She wasn't sure how it happened, but she loved being with him, loved having a project to work on, loved not having dinner with Jeffrey in front of the big screen television. She was really going to miss Heath when he began his dating in earnest. She sighed a third time, then decided to dress. She chose a pale pink silky blouse and white starched pants. Heathcliff always liked a sharp crease. She paused, returning to the mirror to pin two lovely daisies to her bun. He had sent them early, knowing her girlish passion for wearing flowers in her hair.
She was ready when the doorbell rang. They smiled at each other. She took the arm he offered her and held it close. As they drove to the lakeside restaurant, she listened to him, gazed at him, and politely didn't notice the overuse of cologne. She should have taken out her floral notebook to mark the offense. After all, this was his final exam and the stakes were high for him, but her heart wasn't in being critical tonight. She took no joy in jotting down his faults as she once did. In actuality, he had few faults to notate. Heathcliff had always been a model student, and he had adjusted himself to fit her model of masculinity with ease.
They had arrived. He smiled at her and held every door. He chose this restaurant not only for the elegant seared duck breast specialty, her favorite rare treat, but for the strikingly beautiful view of the lake. They talked and ate at a leisurely pace and Heathcliff didn't check his watch even one time. Just as they finished the raspberry truffle cake, the musicians he had hired gathered for a serenade. It was downright artful. She began to tear up at the beauty of the moment, and the gentleman took her by the hand. They stood together as the music began. She smiled. She had never thought of herself as a fantastic dancer, but to tango with Heathcliff was enough to make anyone feel like a star. He was tall, stood up straight, and wasn't socially conscious enough to be embarrased. It was incredibly fun. She began to laugh when the other diners applauded.
He suggested a walk along the damp boardwalk now that the drizzle had come to an end. Naturally, she agreed. They walked close together, smelling the earthy wetness of the wood beneath them, admiring the smoothness of the lake. They paused, leaning against a railing, to watch the sun set. They were quiet as the subtle oranges first kissed the waters of the lake. In a moment, those waters returned the burning color with fervor. Barbara turned to Heathcliff.
"Heath," she began softly. "I think this has been the best date of my entire life." He looked at her, surprise showing in his eyes.
"You really thought everything was adequate?" he asked as he turned to face her.
She smiled softly. "Absolutely. Nothing could have been more lovely. It was romantic, it was thoughtful, it was meaningful, it was..." she stared into his eyes, "perfect. You are perfect." She felt defeated for some reason. She continued, "I have no doubt that you could get any girl to marry you now." Her tears began their lonesome trail down her blushing cheeks. She knew it was time to make the final break.
He reached for her hand. "But, I don't want just any girl. I want you, my helper, my friend, my love." She rushed to him, her soft tears dripping onto his shoulder.
Heathcliff whispered to her, "Barbara, marry me and help me all my days." She managed to croak out an affirmative answer before the next round of grateful tears began. He held her happily sniffing the time away. After a few minutes, while still holding his lovely sweetheart, he began to maneuver his wrist up to eye level. The sleeve of his tan suit coat covered his watch. He tenderly extended his arm again, shifting the material free of the watch's face. He peered with caution, then began to smile broadly, quietly, with Barbara's head still on his shoulder. He felt supremely satisfied. It was exactly 11:59 pm on May 15.
"I can't believe it!" Heathcliff whispered excitedly. He was in love...and right on schedule.