"Can I open it now?" I said, cradling the box beneath my arm.
Billy stirred, looked first at the clock, and then at me. "Of course you can. It's your birthday present," he squinted again at the clock: 7:14, my standard wake-up time on workdays. "And it's your birthday. So, of course."
I positioned myself on my side of the bed, giving Billy enough room to sit up from his slumbering position. I carefully plucked at the tape on the wrapping paper, freeing the edges of the blue paper.
"Just rip it," Billy said, his voice still quiet from sleep. I obliged, happily tearing the paper from the heavy box.
What it revealed was only brown cardboard, and I looked at it, confused. "Keep going," Billy urged.
I opened the box, exposing yet another one. I looked at him, unsure. Half asleep, he nodded at me to continue. And as I pulled the smaller box from the tight clutches of the larger one, I saw it.
"You didn't," I whispered, my voice stifled with disbelief. And I tore the box open, eager to see its contents.
There it was: A laptop.
I slid the silver and black computer from its styrofoam protection and looked at Billy again. Tears came to my eyes immediately. "I can't believe it," I said. "Oh my God. Thank you so much."
I turned my head to look at him, buried in blankets, a cocoon of beige surrounding him. He smiled. "Do you like it?"
"I love it." My voice was far away and dreamy, still shocked at what I held in my hands. "Can I...Can I turn it on?"
"Yeah," he said, sitting up and reaching for his coffee. He sounded excited. Not as excited as me, but excited. "It should be charged."
And so I hit the power button, letting my new machine come to life. It sang as it woke, the all too familiar Widows anthem blaring from tiny speakers hidden somewhere within the notebook. I looked at Billy again, covering my mouth with my robe. I didn't want him to see my mouth contorting into tears, the way my lips were fighting the tears with a full smile. It couldn't have been pretty. "Thank you so much," came my muffled voice.
"Let it sit for a minute," he said, taking a sip of his coffee.
I removed my hands from the smooth keys and did as he said. "Baby, thank you so much. I can't believe it."
"You're welcome." I leaned in to kiss his sleepy mouth, sorry for waking him on his day off, but at the same time glad I had. He returned my kiss, his full lips meeting my own, accepting my gratitude.
The screen went black for the screen saver. Happy Birthday, Larry scrolled across the screen. I laughed out loud and looked into his face, my eyes brimming, my heart full.
"It's all set up for you." He nodded toward the computer. "It's got Word and everything...It even has music."
I shook my head, as though trying to wake myself from a dream. "I have to go get a router, like, today," I said, digging in the start menu for the music he'd mentioned.
He leaned over the side of his bed and produced a second wrapped box.
"Is that a router?" I asked, though I knew the answer already.
He laughed. "Open it."
And it was.
"I must be a huge geek," I laughed, revealing the router's box beneath the paper, "to get this excited over a computer."
"You are," he assured me.
But it wasn't the computer itself that had me excited, full of tears and thank yous. It was the fact that I'd never asked for a laptop. I'd wanted one, but I'd never asked him for it. I asked for shoes and purses for my birthday, for jewels and DVDs; not a laptop. But he'd been watching, all those times I flipped through electronics flyers, searching for a laptop I could afford. He'd listened when I talked about how nice it would be to write from the comfort of my bed, whenever the mood strikes. He'd paid attention to all of it.
I couldn't keep the smile from consuming my face as I rushed to him and covered his face in kisses, my arm wrapped around his warm body. "Thank you," I whispered into his neck, his chest. "Thank you so much."
And when I withdrew, looked at him to make sure he understood how grateful I was, I saw on his face a gift better than the newly unwrapped present on the bed: He was happy. He was genuinely happy, it seemed, having done something that gave me such bliss.
And I wondered, how did I get so lucky? How did I find a man that I thought only existed on TV, in the movies, in romance novels. A man who will do something for me simply because he knows I'll love it, who delights in making me happy. A man who takes the time to think of something I'll really love, really use, really appreciate.
"I may never leave the bedroom now," I said, touching the wide screen lightly.
"I thought you'd rather write here than downstairs."
That comment sank through my skin, made me stop and marvel and what I have. We may disagree, and we may see things differently sometimes, but he knows me, and what's important to me...And it's important to him to make me happy. And I couldn't ask for a better gift.