We quickly put away our clothes from the suitcase and I changed into a pair of jeans.
“Okay” I asked “do you want to go down first and I’ll bring your chair? – What is easier?”
“Fine” he said ”whatever”. So down we went.
I did think the whole situation was strange about the lift and of course the horrible “mildew” shower cubicle. His parents had had years to accept their son’s limitations but they were not helping at all I had thought. Of course, Daniel being Daniel, was just accepting the situation and just getting on with it so may be in his parents’ strange way, it was working out.
When we got downstairs, his parents seemed to be sitting in a lounge type reception area on very old sofas which were covered with rugs, covering rugs, covering rugs to hide the old thread bare furniture. “Well” his mother said “would you like a cup of tea before you go out?”
“Do you have coffee?” I asked hopefully. “Oh yes” she replied “but there is no instant in this house I’m afraid. We all like our coffee thick and black”.
“Well that is a relief” Daniel answered. “She is not good without her caffeine”. We all went into the kitchen to sit down. We all sat around a large scrubbed oak table whilst his mother busied herself with the coffee.
“What are you planning to do today. Please do be back for afternoon tea. Samara will come with the children for a while. Raf said if you want to come in two weeks, he will meet you here”.
“I have already spoken to him” replied Daniel. “Is er is Giles coming today?”
“Of course he is” she answered irritably “and I don’t start about him. May be he wouldn’t have been my first choice for Sammy but she loves him. She has children with him. In fact she hasn’t ever said a negative word about which is more than what I can say about you and your brother. Not you Sara” she quickly added “he hasn’t not as yet complained about you”.
“Well that is a relief” I admitted. “What is wrong with Giles?”
“He is a very “straight” character” she replied “and leave it at that. Your boyfriend doesn’t like him. What was it you said the last time? “A patronising git” I think you called him”.
“I was just sticking up for my sister” he said grimacing slightly “he is hellishly chauvinistic, he is ...”
“Enough” said his mother “just drink your coffee and go out for a walk and show Sara all your old haunts. Sammy has to live with him – not you. It is not like you socialise with him. You only see him when you come here and that isn’t very often. What do you do at the weekends anyway? You could come home a bit more often.”
“Yes I could” he said sighing. “May be I would a bit more often if Sammy didn’t come with him and if you fixed the lift.”
She glared at him, served them the coffee and walked into the other room.
Later as we were leaving the house I said “you know it is not her fault about Giles. She just doesn’t want to rock her daughter’s marriage. She is just trying to keep out of it. I don’t particularly like my brother in law whom I know you are going to remind me that you haven’t met, or my sister, or my mother or anyone.”
“Can I meet them?”
“Yes – next week” I confirmed. “Don’t look at me that way suggesting that I’m ashamed of you. I know that “guilt” look that you do. Don’t waste that on me. Keep that for Giles”
He pulled me on his lap.
“I love you” he said “that’s why”. I stared into his eyes and kissed him. I could feel magnetic waves reverberating up and down my body. “Danny” I repeated “I love you so much I just don’t want to spend a moment apart from you.”
“Move in with me” he suddenly said impulsively.
“Don’t be silly” I said “It is too soon”.
“It isn’t. You compared us to the religious people you keep telling me about having a “shidduch”. You said that they realized they wanted to be together and then learned to love each other. Why can’t we do that?”
“We can” I answered “but I don’t want to spoil anything that’s why”. I thought for a moment, “why don’t we spend as much time as possible together and I’ll stay in the week most days and then we’ll see how it goes. You might hate it?”
“I won’t. I work late a lot of the time and when I come back you can make me a lovely dinner, wash all my clothes and I can just lie there with my feet up”.
I looked at him to check if he was teasing me. “No, I think you will find that YOU will cook for me as I will be a guest in your house. I may have washed your clothes once, and ironed them I might add but ....” He kissed me. “Okay we’ll see”.
We walked away from the house, through the back garden which seemed never ending until at the very bottom of the garden, near the fence and brambles was a very old and wide tree.
“You see this tree” he said “this is the tree that we used to spend all our summers in. At the top is our tree house and according to my brother, this is the one thing on our land that is in great order and doesn’t need fixing. This, so he tells me is the only part of this “fine estate” that doesn’t need to be rebuilt”.
I looked up. Up high I could see a large wooden construction with a horrible swinging ladder made of thick rope.
“What did you do in there?” I asked.
“Well we used to hold meetings, talk, have little parties, snog with our girl friends ... I don’t know. I think we used to fancy ourselves as characters from Enid Blyton books. Look I’ll show you”.
And with that, he swang on the rope and manoevered himself up to the top of the tree, his legs swinging uncontrollably in the wind.
“Daniel” I screamed. “How are you going to get down”. I looked around for help.
“You are going to help me get down” he called back.
“How?” I asked “I can’t use that rope and I’m scared of heights” I yelled.
“Use the ladder” he said. I looked over at the ladder swaying steadily in the wind. I looked around for help and as I saw no one about I found myself carefully and much slower than Daniel had with the single rope, climbing up the ladder stairs.
A few seconds later I found myself sitting next to Daniel on a dusty wooden floor.
“How could you do that to me?” I asked. “I am petrified of heights. How are we both going to get down” I cried.
He kissed me gently on the lips. “Look around” he said.
I looked around. He was sitting crouched on the floor next to a little cloth and on the cloth were two wine glasses and a bottle of wine.
“How did that get here?” I asked.
“I asked for it to be put up here” he said
I looked at him blankly.
“The thing is” he said “when I was a kid, a teenager really, I thought, I knew that I wanted to propose to the girl I loved up here in my favourite place”.
I tried to interrupt him.
“No. Let me carry on” he continued. “and then obviously when I had my accident it wasn’t going to be possible. As time went on, I realised that I could climb a rope and of course, “here we are”.”
I looked at him silently “so what I want to ask at this early stage in our relationship is because I can’t imagine myself with anyone else in the whole, wide world and because I love you more than words can say, “will you marry me?””
I fell into his arms. “Of course I will marry you” I said “but not yet. Let’s just be together for a while to make sure”.