Mary logged on and waited for David’s icon to blink his presence. Her meeting with Mr. Sullivan had energized her and she found it difficult to sit still. She had made a list of things she had to do to get the painting ready for sale, first of all going to the bank to find the provenance papers and talking to an attorney about logistics. She pushed away the thought of how she would manage those two appointments without having a nervous breakdown. Thinking about David would help. Maybe Amy could come with her. Just the thought of having her friend with her eased the tightness in Mary’s chest.
She had phoned her aunt’s attorney’s office, but was told the man had retired three years earlier. His nephew had taken over the business and Mary made an appointment to see him at one p.m. tomorrow. That would give her time to stop by the bank and pick up the papers beforehand.
Ping! Mary clicked on the chat session. David was waiting for her.
David: Mary, how are you today?
Mary: Great. I’m working hard on figuring out how to help you fundraise for Peru. How are your language classes going?
David: Estoy haciendo las cosas bien.
Mary: Huh? English is my one and only language.
David: It means: I’m doing okay, in Spanish. I took the language in high school for a few years, so some of it’s coming back to me, but I still have a long way to go.
Mary: Are you doing an immersion approach? I’ve heard that’s the best way to go when crash-learning a language.
David: Yeah, three hours in the morning with Senora Matlize, who speaks rapid Spanish and has no tiene paciencia for a habla mal like me.
Mary: I can figure out no tiene paciencia is ‘no patience’ reference, but what’s habla mal mean?
David: Literally, bad speaker. My accent is horrible, but Senora Matlize is determined to beat out my Iowan dialect and reform me into a true Spanish-speaker.
Mary: Is it that pronounced?
David: Probably, since I was born and bred there.
Mary: How does an Iowan accent sound in Spanish?
Not for the first time, Mary wished Iowa wasn’t so far away. If she had been braver, she would have suggested they talk via webcam and then she could hear David’s voice. But this way was probably better. He wouldn’t be disappointed in her shyness and she wouldn’t have to explain why it was so hard for her to go out in public.
David: Apparently, not too good. Sometimes I think it would have been easier if I had learned a second language as a child. Tackling it in my late thirties is tougher than I anticipated. I guess you can’t teach an old dog new tricks after all.
Mary: Most people wouldn’t even consider such a radical career change this late in their life. Not that late thirties is old, mind you, being in that stage myself.
David: Ah, but on you, the age looks great. Me, I’m showing wrinkles around my eyes and I’m glad you can’t see the top of my head….
Mary: Do you mean to tell me that you’re not perfect? Mock horror. I don’t know if I can continue talking with you nowJ.
David: Mary, don’t even joke about that. If I didn’t have our chats to look forward to every day, I think I would have quit Spanish class a long time ago. In fact, you’re the reason I can face Senora Matlize and her knuckle-rapping ruler at all. I keep telling myself, I can’t let Mary down, and somehow I manage to learn another Spanish phrase and conjugate another verb.
Mary: Our chats are very important to me as well. I must admit to not looking forward to the day when they’ll end because you’ll be in Peru.
David: Then let’s not stop.
Mary: I don’t think you’ll have reliable Internet access in Peru.
David: Probably not, but that’s not what I meant.
Mary: What did you mean?
David: This is likely the most insane thing I’ve ever done, but I can’t stop my feelings for you. I know I shouldn’t even say this, not with my going to Peru in a few months, but Mary, I love you more than anyone in the entire world. Your friendship and support these months has enabled me to fulfill my dream of being a missionary to Peru. But as my journey has taken me closer to leaving the States, I find that I don’t want to go because leaving means leaving you behind.
Mary sat back, tears filling her eyes as she read his sentiments. Her fingers hovered over the keys but nothing came to mind. What could she say to him? She couldn’t put herself between him and his calling to be a missionary. If he stayed here because of her instead of going, she would never forgive herself. She forced herself to type the words that would free him from any obligations to her.
Mary: David, you must go. You’ve been dreaming and working toward this your whole life, since you were a little boy. You have to go to Peru.
David: I know I have to go. What I meant to say is that I don’t necessarily have to go alone.
Mary stared at the words on the screen. Fear and happiness warred with each other in her chest. She sucked in a deep breath and closed her eyes. But when she opened them again, the words still said the same thing. The moving pencil indicated David was continuing his post.
David: While this is probably more romantic if done in person, what I’m asking in my rather clumsy way, is will you marry me and come with me to Peru?
A squeal of delight escaped Mary’s lips. With her reticence at leaving the house, she had nearly given up hope that she would one day be someone’s wife. That someone as handsome as David, who made her feel so special and needed, would choose her was beyond her imagination. She hesitated, thinking about Peru and all the pain that part of the world held for her. Did she want to go someplace where her parents were? But at least she would have someone to grow old with, instead of living the rest of her life alone in this big house.
If a part of her wondered if it was bit too soon in their relationship to be talking of marriage, she ignored it. She shoved aside the thought that meeting him fact-to-face before committing to marriage would be wise. For once, she was going to take some chances and grab her own bit of happiness with both hands.
Mary: Yes, I will.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Phantom Love is copyrighted and cannot be used in any form without permission from Sarah Hamaker.