“When are you going to ask my daughter to marry you?” I look at him, then over at Austin. My hand goes to my pocket where I have kept her ring since picking it up at the jewelers. I run my fingers over the metal before pulling it out of my pocket.
“I actually wanted to ask you for permission.” I hold the ring out in his direction. The ring has three diamonds. They represent our past, present, and future. They’re wrapped in white gold, with the kids’ birthstones set in-between.
“I can’t believe she took you back,” Austin says, looking at the ring, then me.
“I can’t believe it either, but she’s mine, and I will take out anyone who stands in the way of us having a future.” I look directly at Austin; his eyes flare, but he doesn’t say anything.
“You have my blessing,” Frank says. I look at him to see him smiling.
“Thank you,” I reply, putting the ring back in my pocket.
“Where’s the box?” Austin asks.
“The ring box, where is it?”
“In the garbage.” I sigh. “I can’t have the box in my pocket; it’s too obvious,” I say, running my fingers over the ring again. This is a new habit; touching it does something to calm me.
“How long have you had it?
“A little over a month,” I say, shrugging. I like having it with me. I don’t know when I’ll ask; I just have a feeling that when the time comes, I will know.
“It ain’t burning a hole in your pocket?” Austin asks, looking at me curiously.
“Honestly,” I shake my head, “yeah, but I want to make sure that she is ready before I ask her.”
“I know a spot she loves,” Austin says, looking thoughtful. I’m not sure I would want to ask her to marry me at any location they used to go to together. He must read my face when the next words come out of his mouth. “Childs Glacier. She loves it out there. And no, we never went there together,” Austin says, and I remember her telling me about that place, saying there wasn’t anywhere in the world more beautiful. I can even remember the pictures she had in her apartment when I first started dating her.
“I’m not sure when I’m going to ask her. I want it to be in the moment.” I look at Austin and Frank, who both smile.
“Well, if you want her to say yes, then you should be in the moment at Childs Glacier.”
“She will say yes,” I say, not feeling so confident when I read the looks on their faces. “What?”
“When she was a little girl, she told me she wanted her future husband to ask her to marry her at her favorite spot, just like I asked her mom to marry me at her favorite place.”
“I don’t know. I just keep thinking I will know when I’m supposed to ask her.” I sigh, pulling the hat off my head.
“Bud, just take her out to the glacier. If you don’t get the feeling when you’re there, then don’t ask her,” Austin says. I really don’t want to like this guy, but he makes it hard not to.
“I’ll think about it,” I say, thinking over the idea.
“All right.” Frank smiles and pats my back. “Enough of the women-talk, time to go find our bear.”
“Shit,” I groan. “How the hell did I end up in this situation?” I look at Austin, who laughs.
“You need to man-up,” Austin says, smiling. “We need to make a man out of you. Hunting is like coffee; it puts hair on your chest.”
“If that’s the case, I think you need to quit drinking coffee and hunting.” I look him over, shaking my head. He looks like a bear.
“Jealous?” he asks, pulling down the top of his shirt and showing off his chest hair.
“Chicks love it.” He smiles, and I can’t help but laugh.
“What the hell are you two gossiping about? Get it together; we’re burning daylight,” Frank yells. Austin looks at me and shrugs before taking off hiking again.
“You better be careful, Austin, you could easily be confused with a bear,” I tell his back. His hand raises over his shoulder so he can flip me off. I start to jog so I’m not so far behind and pray we don’t see a bear.
I look out the window of the truck into the side-view mirror. The dirt road we’re driving on is creating a large dust cloud behind us. All along the side of the road is empty space with large mountains off in the distance. My mom and dad are keeping the kids for us for a few hours so that Cash and I can go out to Childs Glacier. There are two glaciers near where I grew up in Alaska: one is Childs, the other, Miles. Childs Glacier has been one of my favorite places to go and think since I was young. There is just something about looking at a natural wonder that has been around for thousands of years. Along with the beauty of it—the amazing glaring white and turquoise color that is woven throughout the ice, and the river running along the front of it—if you’re lucky, you can watch a piece of ice fall off into the water; the sound of thunder that fills the air when it happens is awe inspiring.
“What’s going on in that head of yours?” Cash asks, pulling my hand up to his mouth to kiss my fingers.
“Nothing.” I smile, looking over at him.
“Are you sad that were leaving in a couple of days?”
“Yes and no.” I squeeze his hand. “I miss my parents, but I also miss home,” I tell him and see him smile.
“I miss home too, but I am gonna miss it here.” He puts my hand on his thigh with his on top of mine, his thumb running across the top. “This is someplace I could see myself living,” he says, and I laugh; he is only saying that because he has never gone through an Alaskan winter. “What’s so funny?”
“Honey, in the winter, there are times it snows so badly that you can’t even open the front door. A couple of years ago, the National Guard had to come in and dig people out because there were fifteen feet of snow in some areas.” I watch as his eyes almost bug out of his head. “So, now do you want to move here?” I ask him.
“I think we will just have to find time to visit in the summer.”
“I thought so.” I smile.
“What the hell is that?” Cash asks. My eyes go from him to the road, and I see a giant black blur in the middle of the road ahead of us.
“I don’t know,” I mumble, squinting my eyes. The closer we get, the clearer the object in the middle of the road becomes.