This scene takes place prior to the bonus scene available at the end of MORE THAN WATER
Folded once, corner to corner and then again, with the other corner.
So much paper.
Next I folded the square blue sheet in half, and then half again, always making sure to get the creases sharp so that I could invert it properly into a diamond shape. Each fold needed to be precise.
At my desk, I met each corner to the center of the shape, creating a kite-looking figure. I continued to bend the blue paper into itself until it finally resembled a proper crane and then tossed it into the box near my feet.
Grabbing the next sheet, I started the process all over again, folding and bending, crafting the decorated squares into the bird shapes. When I was in the middle of about the twentieth crane for the night, someone knocked at the office door of where I know worked, for the family business. It was after hours, so I assumed it was the one of the cleaning staff coming to collect the daily trash.
“Come in,” I called, concentrating on the final steps of my origami project. With one hand on the bird, I lean underneath my desk and pull out the small wastebasket for the janitor, and set it aside for better access.
“Working late?” my mother asked. Her voice was not the one I was anticipating. “We can’t have you that busy already, can we?”
I finished a final fold of the bird and set it aside. “No. I’m working on a personal project.”
In a spring trench coat, she dropped her briefcase to the ground and then approached my desk, eying the stack of square papers to one side and the folded bird on the other. “What kind of project? Is this something for you Evelyn? You’ve never been known to be one for arts and crafts.”
“I’m still not.” I leaned back in my chair, shuffling the hair over my ear. “And yes, it’s for Evelyn.”
“Oh. Are you helping her with something?”
“No…I meant to tell you and dad tonight when we met for dinner since Evelyn will be out with her friends, but…” I reached into my briefcase resting at my feet and pulled out the blue box from inside that had taken up so much space in my mind since the moment I decided to purchase it. Setting it on the desk between us, I slid it closer to mother and then stood up to continue the conversation at eye level. “Open it.”
“Is this…?” She reached for the box in question, he hand shaking a bit.
“It is,” I answered.
Opening the small box, she quickly pulled out the velvet container inside and then flipped the lid, revealing the ring I planned to present to Evelyn when…
“I’m going to ask Evelyn to marry me.”
My mother nodded and her eyes began to water. “She’s really the one for you, isn’t she?”
“Yes. She’s…everything to me, mother.”
Sniffing, she tried to contain her tears. I offered her a tissue and she wiped the moisture from her eyes.
“I hope those are happy tears,” I commented.
“Well, don’t get too excited. I haven’t asked her, yet. I don’t know what she’ll say in all honesty. She’s not very traditional.”
She angled the box toward me, showing me the ring, a brilliant blue diamond with facets I had memorized from studying the gem. Picking just the right ring was a challenge for a such a vibrant woman. “How could she say no with a ring like this?”
I smiled. “We shall see.” I took back the ring from her hand, closed up the box, and returned it to my briefcase. “Like I said, she’s a little unconventional.”
“I know she is, but I think that’s why you two work so well together.”
“Still doesn’t mean that she’ll want to get married.”
“Have you two talked about it? Even in theory?”
“A little, but…not a lot. All theory.”
She beamed. “I have a good feeling, Foster. Anyone can see how much she loves you. Your father and I were just talking about that the other day. She follows you. First to California and now here. A girl that doesn’t love you wouldn’t do that. I think she wants to marry you more than you realize.”
“I hope you’re right.” I seated myself in the chair and immediately reached for another blue square sheet of paper. I had a mission.
Swooping up the folded bird on my desk, my mother examined the origami creation and then peeked in the box half filled with a pile of more.
“What’s the story with the birds?” she wondered.
“It’s part of my proposal.” I began to crease the paper as I had done many times before. “Marriage is supposedly a lot of work. It’s a commitment that takes a lot of time and persistence.”
“It can feel that way sometimes, but if you’re married to the right person, it doesn’t feel like work at all.”
“Well, it’s a commitment, and I want to show her that I’m committed in a way I think she’ll understand.”
“So the birds are part of this plan?”
“Yes. I read somewhere that Japanese legend states that any person who creates a thousand origami cranes would be granted one wish.” I continued to fold the paper. “She’s my wish and I’m willing to do the work for her.”
“You are going to make a thousand of these?”
“Yes. That’s the plan.”
“How many have you made already?”
“About five hundred fifty, give or take.”
My mother took off her jacket and seated herself across from me, scooting the chair closer to the desk. She then grabbed a sheet of paper from the top of the pile and started to fold it in half diagonally.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Helping you,” she replied, folding the square along the other diagonal. “You have a long way to go, and I want to make sure your wish comes true. I’m sure you can teach me how to make them, yes?”
I placed my palm over her working fingers. “Thank you, but I need to do it myself.” I squeezed her hand. “It will mean more this way—just me, asking her, in every way.”