I liked to watch her as she pranced about naked in my apartment. Call it what you want, but there was a certain hitherto unseen grace that the lack of clothing gave her body. Her curves, more fluid; her luscious black skin glowing visibly. I loved her regardless, garments on or garments off. However, I more easily got lost running my fingers over her silky smooth skin as she lay by my side in her natural glory than if I was doing anything else in the world.
You see, she was literally the only one for me. When we first met, I didn’t know it. I practically hated her because I felt that she had crossed into my turf and taken over. Lemme break it down to you. The first time I met Jill, I was a humble photographer apprenticing by the masters’ side. My father had convinced his friend, one of the country’s most prolific photographers, to take me under his wing and show me the ropes. Let’s just say it was his last ditch effort to help me towards a meaningful career. But I digress. I had been working for the master for barely 3 months when one morning, in walked this tall beauty with a Minolta film camera slung over one shoulder and a makeshift photography portfolio in her hand. The master was immediately enthralled by her and with a quick glance through the portfolio; he declared that we had a new apprentice in the studio. I think you can guess who was assigned to show her the ropes and get her up to speed.
Let’s just say the dislike I had for her was akin to the dislike a formerly only child harbors for his newly born sibling. My massive fake sense of self importance as the master’s first apprentice in years had led me to believe that I was THAT guy. Jill came and promptly deflated my ego. My first reaction to that was to seethe with loathing for her. But as the days passed and we got to know each other, that loathing turned into loving. She was the kindest, gentlest and most intelligent woman I knew. She had an eagerness to learn photography and a diligence in practicing what she’d learnt that translated into her quickly becoming even better than I was as a photographer. By the time this was happening, I was too busy allowing myself to be more and more confused by her to hold any feelings of jealousy or dislike towards her. You can guess what effect this confusion was having on my photography. The master noted that I was slacking off and suggested that we each choose a niche and concentrate on becoming the best photographers in that niche.
That was the beginning of the illustrious career of Jill, the region’s best portrait photographer. She had a way of capturing portraits that looked like she’d captured the very soul of the subject. Her images were always so full of life and emotion. I chose a different route, going into landscapes and wildlife photography. And together we grew till we were both masters in our own repute. Our varying schedules meant that the times when we would both be free were few and far between, so we cherished and savored every moment we spent together. Our love blossomed and flourished with the passing of time and as we approached our 5 year anniversary, there was no doubt in my mind what I had to do on the day of our anniversary. I wanted her by my side forever. I would propose to her on that special day.
A couple of weeks before the day of the anniversary, I put my plan into action. I made all the necessary bookings, including booking her for dinner on the anniversary eve. As the day got closer and closer, I noted that she became more and more curious about what I had planned for the 5 year anniversary. I must say that I had always organized really special celebrations for all our anniversaries as part of my gift to her. We’d been bungee jumping, we’d gone swimming with the dolphins and for the 4th anniversary, we flew to a secluded beach cottage and spent a weekend there. So naturally, she was intensely curious to find out what I had in mind to trump all that. Thankfully, I knew how to keep a secret and only revealed the location of our special date as we drove up to KICC on our anniversary eve. The look on her face as we parked was priceless. You see, the KICC rooftop was one of our usual hangout joints. We’d go sit by the helipad when we had time in the evenings and take photos of the city at sunset and after. That was our version of couple time. She was visibly crestfallen at having dressed up to go chill at the usual spot. As we rode the express elevator up to the top, she slipped her arm around mine and sighed loudly, maybe to signify acceptance. The second priceless look on her face that night happened when the doors of the elevator opened at the top. No words can fully describe the instant shift from a look of dejection to utter joy and surprise as the doors opened to reveal a smartly dressed concierge welcoming us warmly into the revolving restaurant that was just under the rooftop. We always had to take the stairs from that point and she had mentioned several times that she’d love to sit and have dinner there some day. So I booked out the whole restaurant for the night.
As we took our seats and the rotation of the restaurant floor slowly started, she was beside herself with glee. From the elevator all the way into the restaurant, she couldn’t stop saying thank you. I beamed as I saw the amazement and adoration in her eyes. A hired band played ballads softly in the background as we ate our meal, eyes locked intermittently on each other and the wonderful backdrop of the city lights coming on as night fell. We both hardly noticed time passing, happy to be in each other’s company at such a special moment. The waiter clearing his throat softly as he walked over with the covered dessert platter in hand reminded me of my main mission for the night. I quickly composed myself and as he came up to the table, I got up and got on one knee in front of Jill.
“Oh My God! Is this actually happening?” she screamed happily as the waiter took his position by my side.
I began. “Jill, I’m but a humble photographer. Definitely not the man you had dreamed would sweep you off your feet but I somehow succeeded in doing that. I would like you to take pictures of our children in the future, so will you marry me?”
The waiter lifted the covering on the dessert platter to reveal a diamond engagement ring in an open silk lined box. Jill screamed in delight “Yes! Yes! Yes!”. I took out the ring and slipped it on her finger. The band broke out into a happy tune as the restaurant staff who’d gathered by the door to watch the proposal started clapping and cheering. I rose up off my knee and Jill immediately sprang up and gave me a big hug and a long, lingering romantic kiss.
Then beneath our feet, out of nowhere, BOOM!!