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Home > Lila and Ethan: Forever and Always(10)

Lila and Ethan: Forever and Always(10)
Author: Jessica Sorensen

He looks nervous as we sit in his truck, the sun glaring in through the windows. He’s flipping through the pages of his journal, searching for the right page, and I try to stay calm in the passenger’s seat, hoping there’s nothing in there that’s going to upset me.

He finally stops flipping through the pages and takes a deep breath before he looks up at me. “Just make sure you read the whole thing. It starts off kind of”—he struggles for the right words—“unsure in the beginning, but it gets better.”

I nod and then reach across the seat toward the journal. He glances at it one more time, seeming torn, before he reluctantly hands it over. I take it and put it on my lap, feeling a little uneasy as I read the first word on the page: confusion.

“Just start right here?” I ask, tapping the top of the page with my finger.

He nods and then turns toward the window, staring at the vacant motel parking lot to the side of us. I swallow hard, tell myself to go into this with an open mind, and then with caution, I start to read.

Confusion. That’s what I feel every time I think about the future. I hate thinking about where I’m going to be in a few years—where I’m supposed to be. If I had my way, I’d take things day by day. Never think about the next day or about the past. I’d live life in the moment. Breathe it. Live freely. It’s so much less stressful than worrying all the time about where I’m going to be down the road or who I’m going to be with. I already lost someone once that I cared for. And the idea of losing Lila is like a hundred times worse than that. I’m not even sure if I could get over her if I tried. And what if I didn’t lose her, but we just ended up despising each other like my parents and her parents do. That would be equally as hard. It seems so much easier just to stay away from that deep of a commitment and avoid all the “what ifs.”

The problem is it’s sort of selfish to think this way about life, especially when I’m not the only one in my life. Lila is such a huge part of me. She’s more than that. Over these last couple of years, she’s become my best friend and not opening up to her completely because of my fears is wrong. She’s the person I love more than anyone else in this world and if I have to open my eyes for a moment, and look forward, all I see is her. God, it’s the truth… She’s all I want. That much I know. I never want anyone else to go through all this shit with me—to go through life with me. And if I have to decide one thing right now about my future, it’s that I want to be with her. I want her with me. Even five or ten years down the road. Even when we’re thirty or forty. Even if it means we could possibly turn out like our parents, I want to try. I want to try to have a future with her. What the hell happens between now and then I’m not so sure. But do I even need to be sure about that yet? Maybe I only need to be sure about one thing. And that’s her and I always being together. Even through the shitty times. I’d never go back and change a damn thing. Every single thing that we’ve been through has gotten us to this moment where she’s lying in the bed beside me and just her being here makes me so content. I breathe easier. I don’t even want to think about being on this trip alone. Yeah, I love the quiet, but it could never compare to all the moments we’ve shared together. Fireworks. Arguments. Ponds. Kisses. Sex… God the sex is great. Every conversation with her, good and bad. Every moment, light and dark. I want to relive it over and over again. I want so many more moments and conversations.

I want this to be permanent. I want Lila and I to be permanent.

Forever and Always.

I try not to cry. I really do. But I’m an emotional person and this… well, I never ever thought anyone would ever feel this way about me.

As my tears start to stain his beautiful words, I quickly shut the journal so the ink stays intact. I quickly wipe my tears with my hand, look up at him, and before he can speak, I say, “So where are we going to get the tattoos?”

* * *

Ethan

I wasn’t sure how she’d take what I wrote. Yeah, the ending was good, but the beginning… well it was full of my fears. And then she starts to cry and I’m a little worried she’s maybe misunderstood what I was trying to convey in my journal. I’m about to ask her what’s wrong, but then she says she wants to go get the tattoos. I’ll admit I’m a little scared, but in a terrifyingly good way. I want this. I knew it the moment I wrote the word permanent.

After we decide to get the tattoos, I drive us over to a tattoo shop on the main section of town between a row of shops. We go inside and start looking through the examples on the wall, but Lila keeps frowning at them.

“I want something that we come up with,” she says, resting her arms on top of the glass countertop. “Something that’s just yours and mine.”

“A symbol?” I ask. “Or words?”

“Words,” she says, smiling. “I think you should come up with words that connect us.”

I point at myself. “Why does it have to be me?”

“Because.” She walks up to me and hooks her arms around my neck. “You put words together beautifully. I seriously think you should consider the whole writer thing.”

I press back a smile, feeling my heart speed up with panic and fear and excitement. “One future move at a time, please,” I say, and she laughs. I let a slow breath ease past my lips as I try to think of something to put on our fingers. There’s not a lot of room and I know the artist is probably going to tell us that more than one word is too much. I think about the last words I wrote in my journal and how they were so huge because they made me realize that moving forward with Lila was something I wanted.

“How about forever and always?” I say, taking her hand in mine and tracing my finger around her ring finger.

She glances down at her hand, puzzled. “What, you take forever and I take always? But then who would take the word and?”

I shrug. “How about both of us.”

She glances up at me with her brows knit. “You want to split up and? Like you take the a and half the n and then I take the other half and the d?” she asks, and I nod. “Wouldn’t that look a little weird?”

“Does it really matter if it looks weird?” I ask. “It’d mean something to us and that’s all that matters, right?”

She considers what I said and then a smile breaks through. “I really love that idea.” She pulls me in toward her and we kiss until a very bulky dude with tattoos covering his arms comes into the waiting room to see what we want. When I explain it to him, he looks at me like I’m some sort of punk kid who’s stupidly in love. I don’t really give a shit what he thinks, though, and feel perfectly content with his disgusted look as he draws up the designs.

When he’s finished, I decide to go first since Lila seems nervous, like she was when she got her first and only tattoo. I take a seat and the guy puts the drawing on me, making sure it’s where I want it. When we get it in the correct place, he gets the needle ready and I shut my eyes, feeling myself change the moment the ink touches my skin. I can feel myself moving forward with each stroke. Feel myself connecting to Lila. Feel that I’m exactly where I want to be. Right in this moment with her.

* * *

Lila

I get so nervous around needles. It took a lot just to get me in the chair for the first and only tattoo I’ve ever gotten. Then I damn near fainted the first minute into it. But Ethan stood by my side and reminded me why I decided to do it. Because I want to be free and wanted to have something that would forever represent my journey toward freedom.

But watching Ethan mark his finger with something that would always connect him to me is different. It makes me feel even more free and alive. Excited. Overwhelmed. Loved. It’s the perfect moment that ends too quickly because suddenly he’s finished and it’s my turn.

“You sure you want to do this?” he teases, stretching out his fingers as we trade places.

I eagerly and very anxiously nod as I plop down in the leather chair. The large guy with a lot of colorful tattoos on his arms who did Ethan’s tattoo tells me to put my hand up on the armrest. He seems sort of cranky, but I don’t care. Nothing could ever ruin this moment, not even a cranky guy who smells like he’s in dire need of some deodorant.

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