Lose: Canada and Reader
It was soft like a cotton blanket on a bitter winter morning when warmth is cherished and the sun is just peeking over the hills of snow. It was ribbons of honey dripping down a bronze spoon, mixed into curls of toffee and butterscotch. You wanted to run your fingers through it and feel the warmth of spring in those golden locks. Locks that seemed to melt at the slightest disturbance which assured you that it was real.
But you couldn’t disturb him. He was asleep; his curl bobbed on gentle breath like wheat on a windy day. Though, instead of basking in the warm glow of dusty sunlight, he was illuminated by the blue light of his computer screen. With a trail of drool from his mouth and dark bags under his eyes, it was obvious he had stayed up late waiting.
A knot of guilt immediately twisted inside your stomach. He had probably been loyally waiting for you for hours for a video chat date that would never happen. And try as you might to make those computer dates, you usually ended up the same way with bags under eyes and drool running down your chin onto your homework.
You wanted this relationship to work, but you also didn’t want to flunk out of college, use student loans, or get stuck in a dead end job. Your studies and work came before your relationship, but you started to rethink that when you saw him lying there in peaceful slumber and instantly missed your old days of dating.
When you didn’t live over a hundred miles away, every Friday night was spent cuddling and kissing in the light of a marathon of movies and Saturday mornings spent eating fluffy pancakes drowned in sweet maple syrup. The weekdays were spent over the phone or at a 24/7 breakfast restaurant.
You reluctantly closed your laptop; your eyes heavy with sleep as you put your laptop back on your desk amongst the piles of papers, pencils, and eraser shavings. It had been a long night and you were more than happy to flop into bed and snuggle in the piles of blankets and covers, making sure to cuddle most with the blanket Matthew had sent with you in case the dorm got too cold. It smelled like maple syrup and pine, just like Matthew.
But as usual, your mind started to spin with ideas. This always seemed to happen when you actually wanted to sleep. With a sigh, you opened your eyes and stared at the boards that held up your roommates bunk. She was currently visiting her boyfriend; you remembered with another twist of guilt.
You had to do something special for Matthew; to somehow show him you still cared and wanted to stay together. But you wanted to do it with more than words. Visiting would be awkward and would deal a heavy blow to your schedule, but maybe saving your long lasting relationship was worth it.
Frustration burst from your heart and out your lips in a groan as you tossed and turned for an hour before you finally fell into a troubled sleep that punished you the next morning with a sore back and heavy eyes, though it didn’t affect your normal day in class or work. You were used to pulling all-nighters by now and hadn’t thought about Matthew until you arrived back at your dorm room.
Your desk groaned under the weight of your text books and the light of your laptop outshined your tiny desk lamp. The first thing you noticed was a message in your box. It was from Matthew.
I’m sorry I fell asleep! I didn’t mean to mess up our call. I really miss you, but I know your studying hard and doing a good job so I’m okay. How’s everything going down there? I hope you’re warm and enjoy the blanket I sent you! The dorms were always chilly when I went to college and I didn’t want you to go pulling all-nighters being colder than a Canadian winter (but please don’t forget to get some sleep). How is your roommate? Al says hi. I hope we can see each other soon, I have a surprise!
Your head hit your key board, tears welling up in your eyes as you tugged and pulled at your hair. You missed your boyfriend even more now. He thought it was his fault! He was proud of you for working hard! Having gone through collage before you met, he understood but you still felt the conflicting emotions of happiness and guilt.
You had to do something to show you cared, as he did when he gave you the blanket. Pushing your homework aside you tried to set your mind on an idea for Matthew. A smile spread across your face as you pictured Matthew smiling as he handed you the blanket before kissing your forehead. Then, while the two of you were too absorbed in kissing to notice, Alfred came downstairs and ripped the blanket off and Matthew yelled at him. Or, the one time you got sick on a Saturday and Matthew came over and you shared a pot of chicken noodle soup while watching a movie marathon.
Your head hit your desk. Why couldn’t you think of anything? Matthew had given you so much in more than one way. How could you return that? With a sigh you stood and searched for a clean jacket in your pile of laundry. You would go check the mail and take a quick walk. Hopefully your mother had sent you a care package of food, like she did every week when she worried whether or not you were eating.
You immediately grabbed your wallet, your brain swimming with ideas as you jogged out the door. You would get the mail coming back from the supermarket.
It had done a number on your wallet, but it was worth the happiness and warmth that spread through you as you put the finishing touches on your care package. You made sure the maple syrup was wrapped in extra bubble wrap and that the box of pancake mix was on top so it wouldn’t get crushed.
You stuffed some extra pieces of tissue paper in the pile of packing peanuts and bubble wrap before proclaiming it done. You tucked your letter carefully inside the package after double checking to see that the 24/7 breakfast gift card was there and that your lipstick print was visible and protected by the piece of tape.
In your mind it was sweet and hopefully Matthew would agree and wasn’t too worried about you not replying to his email after two weeks. Maybe the photo album of pictures from past dates, a pair of hand-knitted gloves, a season of his favorite show, and a block of maple fudge along with everything else would make up for it.
Your roommate gave you a knowing smile when she looked up from her homework and saw you hugging the package one last time before you sent it off.
“Are you dating Matthew or the package?” she teased.
You took that as a compliment, trying to put as much care into the package as possible, spending fifteen minutes doubling tapping everything before you wrapped it in butcher paper, and taking twenty minutes making sure the addresses were right, and adding two extra postage stamps just in case.
With head held high and the package cradled in your arms, you went out to the post office near campus. With luck and money Matthew should be getting the package in three days. With a reason to celebrate you bought some burgers and shakes for you and your roommate and headed back.
But when you arrived they went tumbling to the ground, chocolate milkshake spilling everywhere. Your eyes were on the beautiful honey hair that was soon tangled through your shaking fingers as you greeted Matthew with a kiss.
“I missed you so much,” you whispered as you buried your head on the crook of his neck.
He smelled like maple syrup and cologne and his hair was still like soft cotton. You were glad your roommate was nowhere in the area and you cleaned up the shakes. Now you cuddled on your bed, enjoying each other’s company in the purest way possible.
Matthew’s cheeks turned dark red. “I was getting kind of worried,” he confessed, resting his chin on your head.
You clutched his jacket. He had every right to be worried. “I’m sorry,” you said, “I’ve been drowning in homework and trying to keep my bosses happy, but that’s no excuse. It’s my fault our video date was messed up and why our relationship is so…disconnected.”
It wasn’t a moment later that he said, “It’s okay, we just need to work something out,” before kissing your forehead.
You smiled. He meant it and he wanted to stay in the relationship as much as you did. That was why he came all the way down along with a care package for you, stopping by the breakfast place on his way.
“Good,” you said, popping open the to-go box filled with pancakes, “Because I don’t want to lose you.”
A blush burned across his cheeks as the words fumbled off his tongue, “Does that mean we can stay together forever?”
You smiled, with a blush matching his and a fluttering heart you answered, “Of course,” realizing what he meant before he went digging through the package for the velvet box. “I love you Matthew,” you said, pressing yours lips against his, tangling your fingers in his hair, and making sure he knew you cared.