As soon as she walked through the doors, I fished out my DSLR and snapped a couple of pictures of her. She wore a knee-length, black dress with a tweed jacket and equally black tights, topped off with a pair of heels. Her hair was in a messy bun and she had red lipstick on. She looked striking amidst the ivory restaurant, and I noticed some of the patrons turned heads. I smiled, feeling a sense of pride. She waved, and made her way towards me.
“You look beautiful,” I said the second she was in earshot. Having an interest in photography, I noticed the little details most men don’t, so when I said she looked beautiful, beautiful she was.
She sat down in front of me. “And you look dapper.”
I smiled, amused at her choice of word. We ordered our food and talked about our day. That was when I noticed her rubbing her hands together, looking as if she was fighting the cold. I took her hands, it felt like I was holding ice. “You’re freezing.”
“I didn’t think it would be this cold indoors.”
It was nighttime in fall, and I knew she got cold easily. I grabbed my coat hanging on the chair beside me and wrapped it around her. It was a few sizes too big, she looked like she was engulfed by it. I laughed, and snapped a picture of her. “Wear more layers next time, okay? You could catch a cold,” I said, serious.
“If I got sick you’d have to take care of me, be by my side every day, I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.”
Again, I was amused. “If that’s what you want, then I’ll grant your wish and become the clingiest boyfriend in the world.”
She giggled. “Come here, clingy boyfriend let’s take a picture together.”
I got up from my seat and walked to her side. She took a selfie of us with her smartphone, then uploaded it on Instagram immediately. It captioned “Having dinner with my clingy boyfriend <3”
“By the way,” she said, “where does all the pictures in your DSLR go? I mean, I guess I expect you to upload it on Facebook once in a while, but you never do. What do you do with the pictures?”
“Funny you mention that,” I said, and took out the paper bag that had been hiding underneath the chair beside me. Never had I been grateful to be given a four seater table before, but today I was. Very. “I was planning to give it to you after we ate, but I guess now’s a good time too.”
She looked at me, and I could see surprise, excitement and curiosity in her eyes. Already, I could tell she was going to like it. She was careful with taking out the flat, square-shaped box from the bag, then equally as careful, opened it. She gasped, touching the scrapbook as if it was some expensive jewellery. “Aw, Killian. This looks magical.”
She went through the pictures page by page, making little remarks of what happened during when each photo was taken. I smiled, happy to see how she remembered each memory. It probably wasn’t a big deal if she didn’t remember, but the fact she did meant she was as invested in our relationship as I was. It made all those long, painful hours of purchasing scrap paper, printing photos, cutting and glueing all worthwhile. This was my first time making a scrapbook, and honestly it was so annoying, but seeing how her face lit up at the sight of it made me want to make a dozen more just for her.
When she took out her smartphone and started snapping pictures of the scrapbook, I said, “Can we let this be just between you and me?”
“I don’t understand,” she said, but put down her phone anyway.
I took a sip of my drink, nervous of what I had planned to say, afraid she might take it the wrong way. I tried voicing my next words as calmly as I could. “Maybe I’m selfish, but maybe I have the right to be. Sometimes I just feel like I want you all to myself. I get why you want to post pictures of us on Facebook or Instagram, I get it’s a way to store our memories together, I get it’s your way of expressing how you feel about me, about us. I get it, I really do, but sometimes I just want us to have those memories to ourselves, secrets that no one else can know. These pictures right here,” I patted the scrapbook, “these aren’t uploaded anywhere online because I never want them to be shown to the world. I want this piece of us to stay between just you and me, let it be a secret nobody knows, a secret nobody can ever know. Our little secret.”
She flipped through the pages without saying a word. Slowly, one by one, the sound of it felt so heavy, as if each page was capable of robbing me slowly out of breath. Then, after she closed the book, she looked at me, that was when I first caught sight of her watery eyes, a few droplets already escaped her lids. “Thank you for this,” she said.
I held both her hands. “I know I’m being selfish, but it’s because I love you.”
She smiled. “A clingy and selfish boyfriend? I’ll take that. I’ll take that any day if it’s you, Killian.”