Lucy jumped for her phone lying on the desk. “New E-mail” the screen read. She sighed and set the phone down. Why hasn’t he texted me yet? It was the first time that Steve had left to go somewhere without her. Even though it was just more training, Lucy’s heart had fallen when he told her had had to go. She was a constant worrier and this trip didn’t help.
The plane ride down had gone fine. The drive to the base had gone fine. Even the training had gone fine. Everything had gone fine, until today. Steve had texted her that morning up until his class had boarded the plane. That was 12 o’clock. It was now 6 o’clock and she still hadn’t heard anything. Maybe his mom has heard something.
She dialed the familiar number, the one she had called so many times before. Susan picked up on the second ring.
“Steven? Is that you?”
“Well that answers my question. Guess you haven’t heard anything either?”
“Oh, Lucy, it’s you. No I haven’t heard anything. I was hoping you had.”
“You don’t think anything is wrong do you?”
“I’m sure everything is fine. They probably went for dinner after the plane landed. He’ll be back soon.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right. I’ll talk to you later.”
Lucy felt no better than she had before when she hung up. There hadn’t been word from Steve or anyone else on Facebook, even though the one man in his class was constantly checking in at places. She sat back down at her desk and booted up her computer again. The first thing that came up was her internet browser, already opened to Facebook.
She browsed her News Feed, looking for something to calm her nerves. She clicked on the last post Steve had posted before getting on the plane: “Heading home to my amazingly beautiful fiancé. Don’t worry baby, I’ll be home soon.” Lucy smiled to herself, despite the fact that she was still worrying. She was still getting used to that word. It had been seven months since Steve had proposed, but it still felt like it had just happened the day before.
“Steve! Wait up! Geez, why are you going so fast! We’re supposed to be taking a leisurely stroll, not running a marathon!” Lucy laughed as she ran to catch up to him.
“I know, but… just come on! We have to get there now!” Lucy sighed as she continued to jog through the park. She didn’t even know what was going on, but she had never seen Steve so excited and nervous. “We’re almost there. I promise, just a little bit farther!”
“But why do we have to run if it’s just a little farther?”
“Because you took too long to get ready before we left his morning!”
“Why do we have to be there at a certain time anyway?
“I…we…uh…you’ll see! Hurry up!”
Lucy shook her head but kept up. This was obviously important to him and she was interested about it herself. In the two years that they had been dating, Steve had always been extremely laid back. He was starting the county police academy in two weeks, something he had dreamed of for as long as she could remember, and he wasn’t even this excited the day he got in.
“Does this have something to do with the academy? I’m kind of tired of academy stuff. I just wanted to relax these next two weeks and not think about it.”
“This has nothing to do with the academy, I promise! Wait! Okay, stop here! We’re here!”
Lucy stopped abruptly and finally looked around at where they were. All around them was gorgeous white roses. She didn’t know how she didn’t notice the smell before she saw them.
“Steve, where are we? What are we doing here?”
“Okay just wait. Come here. Yes, right here. Okay just stand there and…almost time…okay…now!”
As Steve said “now,” thousands of butterflies flew into the air, as if they were released from one hundred cages in a circle around them. Lucy gasped at the sight of the beautiful creatures flying into the air. She turned, taking in the sight. As she came full circle, she saw Steve down on one knee, a ring box in his hand.
“Lucy, you have stuck by me for over two years. We’ve been through so much together, that I don’t even know where to begin. When things got rough, you didn’t give up, even when I was the one making it rough. I love you more than anything in this world, and I can’t imagine starting off my life with anyone but you. Will you please do me the honor of becoming my wife?”
Lucy could say nothing as tears formed in her eyes. She thought back to all the wonderful things that had happened between the two of them, and all the bad things that had happened. She thought about the fact that this was all she had wanted since their very first date. She swallowed the lump that had risen into her throat and spoke the word he wanted to hear.
“I don’t wanna close my eyes, I don’t wanna fall asleep cause I miss ya baby, and I don’t wanna miss a thing.”
Lucy snapped out of her memory, lunging for her phone lying on the desk. It read “incoming call”, and she snapped it open before reading who it was from.
“Steve? Steve is that you? Where have you been? Why didn’t you call me sooner?”
“Ma’am, I’m looking for Lucile Holloway.”
“Um, this is her. Who is calling?”
“This is Sergeant Frost from the Jefferson County Police Department. Are you familiar with a Steven Polk?”
“Yes, he is my fiancé.” Lucy tried to keep her voice steady, even as the tears formed in her eyes and the lump rose in her throat.
“Ma’am I’m going to need you to come to the police station right away please. We need to sp-“
“I know why you’re calling. Just tell me.” Tears were now streaming down her face.
“Ma’am I would really rather do this in person. Please if you would just come to the station-“
“Just tell me!”
“…Your fiancé was aboard Southwest flight 327 to Birmingham International Airport. From what we can tell so far, the plane hit a patch of severe thunderstorms. It is unclear at this time what exactly happened, but unfortunately the plane did not make it back to Birmingham. We have found the wreckage and search crews are currently working to locate any survivors. I am sorry to have to tell you this, but your fiancé was among the bodies already found. I’m sorry, but your fiancé has passed.”
Lucy dropped the phone as she dropped to the ground. She heard the Sergeant calling to her from the speaker, but did nothing to answer him. Instead, she stared at the picture of Steve that she had hanging on her wall from the day they were engaged. The white roses and butterflies can be seen in the background, but the truly beautiful thing was Steve’s smile. He was so excited and happy, like nothing in the world could bring him down.
At that thought, Lucy doubled over and began to sob. She pictured his smiling face, not daring to let it leave her mind. She never wanted to forget his face. She clutched her bulging stomach, and to the thought that she at least had a piece of him left.
Lucy awoke to a baby crying. Disoriented, she reached her arm over to wake up Steve. Feeling only cold sheets, she woke up fully, realization hitting her like a bullet to the heart. She checked the clock and saw that it read 3 o’clock. Walking down the hallway and into the nursery, Lucy saw the baby lying in the crib, having his regular early morning fit. She picked him up and cradled him in her arms, rocking him to calm him down.
“Shhhh. Its okay, sweetie. Everything’s going to be okay. Calm down, Steve.”