Leonne always seemed to have it together, even with five unruly children running around, the house was always clean and tidy, the food was amazing. Aria couldn’t understand why her attempts at domestic life always seemed to head very quickly towards disaster. She wanted to surprise Jose by cooking up some breakfast before work, nothing too fancy or challenging. Her usual breakfast had always been cereal or a ham sandwich, anything that didn’t involve turning on the oven. Anxiously she pulled out the frying pan, today’s challenge was to be scrambled eggs on toast. It should have been so simple, crack a few eggs into a pan, mix them around until they are fluffy lumps. Unfortunately, the combination of a hot stove and too much oil created a brief emittance of fire. Panicking Aria hit the flames with her spatula, hoping that she and the kitchen were not going to be set alight. She stared at the pan defeated by the effects and the half-burnt offerings, her head and shoulders slumped as she carefully placed the better chunks of egg on the warmed bread. Jose bit his lips, before smiling sympathetically, his eyes full of love and admiration for the effort she was putting in. Despite knowing the food was awful, Aria watched him polish off the meal minus a few bits of eggshell. Jose thanked her as he cleared away the dishes, he knew she wanted to apologise for how dreadful her cooking was, but Jose was already suggesting she should cook breakfast more often. Aria knew he was teasing, and she vowed to surprise him one day.
Aria trained regularly, more competitively in her role, catching the attention of the head coach. The soccer try-outs were her chance to shine outside of her crazy dance routines, to show she was not just good at cheering, but a spontaneous team player. Aria’s physique had always been slender, easily lending herself to the flexible demands of the dance routine. Her interest in weight training and boxing had defined her muscles, the combination provided a great basis for the skills she needed on the field. She could already outrun most of the other players, what held her back, was indecision. There were choices on the horizon, they affected her potential career path and her private life. Competitive sport was the path her current role was taking, it was a shorter career path, but one that could see her delaying aspects of her personal life since Jose was keen to start a family. On the flip side, Aria loved the weight training, the strict discipline of diet, exercise, sleep and life, the routine had been so rewarding. It was a path that came with a more self-satisfying incentive, a career with longevity which included inspiring the next generation of budding athletes and normal folks to be the best version of themselves. Both paths would be a challenge and it was one she had to decide on very soon.
Settling into a rhythm Jose felt his career as a style influencer was beginning to show signs of progression. He kept writing about the latest designs and commenting on what was trending on the catwalk. The last promotion gave him a digital sketchpad to start creating his ideas, he took it with him to watch Aria lead the cheer squad. He could tell, behind the big flirtatious smile, Aria was disappointed not to make the cut this season. She knew to move from Cheerleader to team play was a big change, the work she had put in just seemed to have been for nothing, and all the praise from the coach, were they merely patronising her, not taking her seriously?
In Willow Creek it was perpetual summer, the lush green park with an array of purples, pinks and oranges scattered around, filling the air with fragrant scents. Jose was a little distracted on the drive over, his mind wandering over the time he had known Aria, the future he wanted to share with her. They walked around the pond looking for frogs, Aria giggled as Jose attempted to catch some fish to grill, almost falling in! In the end they settled on the hotdogs Aria had packed just in case.
School was still in session as they wandered over by the playground, Aria recalled the spaceship she and her sister used to play on when they were young, and how she wished the hard sandy ground would suddenly soften, becoming cloud-like, carrying her away to a real adventure. Jose was always slightly jealous of Aria’s family-orientated life, the orphanage had a broken tree house and a ball between twenty of them, he quickly dismissed the thought, today was about the two of them. Never one to shy away from showing affection or his love for Aria, Jose spun her around, dipping her into a kiss.
Aria was far more discreet with her emotions, turning pink as onlookers smiled at them. Jose had so much to say, about his love for her, the quirkiness of her personality, the enthusiasm with which she played the violin. Pulling out a notebook, Jose had practised his poetry to emphasis the words, to tell his already embarrassed girlfriend, of his eternal love for her. Dropping to one knee, his poem concluded with his intention, the reason for the trip to Willow Creek in particular. Aria gazed at the single set diamond ring in his hands, heart skipping a beat, breath caught between in and out, as she nodded offering her left hand.