The wind is cold in the desert, the stars look like tiny pinpricks in a jewellery box. The city lights are glittery, like the stars.
I’m shivering but alive and loving this. So are the others. There’s a gleam of expectation in the Dutchman’s eye. He’s watching us absorb this place. He keeps asking us what we have enjoyed, what we are excited about, if we are ok. Always, always checking on our wellbeing, making sure each single one of us feels safe, protected, happy.
The rough wind often whips my hair into a frenzy, which annoys me so I have to fix it with water whenever I have the time. Nineteen starts to enjoy the hairstyle- I sometimes catch her preening at her newfound reflection and loving it. Fourteen bites the bullet and gets brave with the Dutchman. Fifteen has heartfelt conversations. I find myself desperate for another hug, one more kiss, another funny moment shared over pancakes or in a bath together or on the Strip.
The sun shines most days here, pretty brightly, and cuts the chill in half as long as you’re walking in its beams. I twist my fingers between his, we walk slowly along the Strip without a care in the world. He takes us on evenings out, little dates littered here and there. There’s moments where each one of us cannot help but fall asleep on the buses, and his warm hands wrap around our sleeping form and hold us tight. We are terrified of falling asleep in public. This is a huge change.
Mornings are finally not scary but enjoyable. Fourteen wakes up needed romance, cuddles- fifteen the same. Nineteen can play it a little less innocently depending what mood she’s in but will equally need hugs once it’s over. I’m a mixture. I just want to love this guy in every way. The best part of waking up with the Dutchman is the kisses. Oh gods, we all melt. Running our hands through dark curls, stroking his cheek. Heaven.
He jokes that even Death needs to go on holiday- where better than here, somewhere that’s so incredibly alive in the middle of a place where things are struggling to live, often dying in the heat? Lights glitter like gold dust, and a juggler of alcohol pours the tastiest cocktails and I sip the elixir of life. I want more. Not of the drink in my hand- no, I want more of this time spent loving him.
One bright morning, we head to where the columns tower far over both our heads and the sun beats down. It’s pretty warm actually. We head out to a garden which is sadly closed- a garden that bears my puppy’s name- and manage to find a place to sit inside a little cabana near a pool that more closely resembles an ornate water fountain in a stately home I once visited than a place to swim.
He tells us how remarkable this place is, how vibrant it is. We have to agree… we thank him, profusely, for letting us join him on this incredible chance to see somewhere that most never go to.
He’s not finished.
He tells us about a girl who fell for the Lord of the Underworld, a goddess who ate six pomegranate seeds and realised that there was no going back. I don’t think she wanted to. She was accompanied to and from the Underworld by a moon goddess and her large, friendly, female dog.
At this point the hair on the back of our neck stands up. We suddenly know where this is going.
He explains that he thinks Persephone and Hades were meant to be, like us- that our love may have even inspired the tale because he doesn’t think that this is the first time either of us have walked the earth. I have to agree- so do the others. There are so many signs that this is what should be- the universe drops them on our laps on a daily basis. He explains that there was a moment that he knew this was the place he would ask us to marry him, and by us, I mean all of us. He knew that he wanted to marry us in the first few weeks of our relationship. He had been planning this, we knew, because he had asked back near Christmas if it was a totally crazy idea and if we had any thoughts on not getting married.
We all couldn’t think of a single reason why not then, and now that this is happening… yes, still the same feelings. Stronger now, we think, because he has brought us to this place to ask a very important question… with a difference.
He asks each of us in turn.
This is surreal. We are so happy we are crying. The sun throws tiny flecks of light around from the water, and four girls reach for their man and hold him tight.
The reason we are only posting this now is because we have been hoping and wishing and waiting for this sort of stability, this sort of promise, and now it has happened we can hardly believe it. On Valentine’s Day, my happy parents threw us an engagement party. Today, the Dutchman and I viewed the place where my parents got married so we could maybe get married there.
An hour ago, I bought a very important dress.
This is happening, anxiety. Shut up depression, we have found a new way to kick you in the teeth. Honestly, panic, you’re kind of useful now because we can channel you into checking wedding plans. Bet you didn’t see that one coming!
Finally, I have what the six-year-old version of me had always dreamed about: someone who loves at the same speed as me.