“I love you,” I whispered softly into the ear of Abbygail, the girl of my dreams.

She thought about this for a moment, looking curiously at me with her big brown eyes, twinkling brightly in the candle light of my lantern under long, dark eyelashes that framed them in just the right way with their subtle curvature.

“How come?” she asked playfully in her sweetest, most innocent voice, smiling with her perfectly shaped, perfectly red lips and her shining white teeth.

I smiled back, thinking about this.

“You’re beautiful,” I paused, suddenly nervous, “but you’re also a beautiful person. You are so sweet, so kind, so gentle, but you aren’t afraid to put up a fight. You can make me so nervous that I’m shaking, but in an instant you can relax me, with just a touch that sends chills down my spine. You make me smile just my looking at you, but you can make me cry with a word. I gave myself over to you without even realizing it.”

Now she was just gazing at me, impossible to read. She looked so serene with her brown hair glittering in the light of the lantern, her sweet, subtle expression either uncertain or disappointed; lost in hopeful fantasy or in pain of memory. Her hand, dressed in a laced-up brown fingerless glove, slid its way up her leather-bound figure to a small golden locket that had been buried in the white ruffles of her collar. I hadn’t noticed it before. She clutched it gently in her fist and closed her eyes, a single tear taking its solemn journey down her cheek.
Feeling guilty, I prepared an apology, but when I attempted to put it into words, I said instead, “I love you because you taught me how to love.”

She opened her eyes, her expression now somewhat surprised, but still calm, still peaceful. For the life of me, I could not tell how she would react to my slip-up.

Her hand let go of the locket and she stepped forward, throwing her arms around my neck with a kiss that lasted forever. I dropped the lantern on the ground and hugged her tightly back, feeling the warmth of her body under her clothes.

And then she smiled, and her face lit up under the tears that now streaked her face, her eyes still closed and our heads resting together, her hand on my shoulder, both of mine on her waist. And then she opened her eyes, and said, still smiling, those words that have echoed in my mind ever since.

“I love you too.”

About the Author

“I like Steampunk in principle. The brass and gears and brown leather and things are great, but the aspect of it that I really relate to is the difference it portrays between every-day objects before and after the rise of big business, factories, and the like. That is that pieces of equipment and technology could be both practical and beautiful if made by hand with care and not sloppily by machines. As a consequence of that, my story is not so far fetched as some of the others, not as sci-fi, and more of a love story than a quintessential Steampunk story.”