Linda took the ring from Thato’s hand, placed it on the glossy wooden table and held his hand. She looked into his big brown eyes, he let out some tears and so did she. She looked around, Thato’s dining room looked completely different today, it had a scent of fresh flowers. It was beautifully decorated and filled with white rose bouquets all around, Linda’s favourite of course.

The floor was scattered with red rose petals and there were only two chairs placed at each end of the table. The dining table was neatly set and had a bottle of non alcoholic sparkling wine along with food that was prepared by the cook Thato had hired for the day. Linda was impressed by Thato’s efforts, he had really outdone himself.

She still wondered why Thato loved her the way he did, what did he see in her? Finding love after all the heartache she’s been through felt unreal, nothing short of a miracle. She wished she could see herself through his eyes, because in her own eyes Linda had always been damaged goods and had too much baggage. She had stopped believing in fairy tales and to her, love was just another fairytale.

She spent most of her teen years being used as a good example of a strong, resilient girl. Being praised in church and by community elders on how she has always been able to come out strong in all the tragic events she had come across. What they would never know though, was the amount of tears that soaked her pillow when the lights went off. The amount of longing to be free, waiting, secretly praying that someday someone would come and rescue her.

From being emotionally abused by her own mother to becoming a mother to her two younger brothers at the age of thirteen when their mother died. Linda had been through it all. The praises and kind words of encouragement never made her feel any better. She was tired of being a victim, she didn’t want to be strong anymore and she definitely didn’t want to live another day of sorrow. She knew by now that no one would be coming to save her, it was time to save herself.

She looked into Thato’s eyes and there it was, the love she had been searching for all her life, someone to help her carry the baggage. She now understood that life had given her a second chance, she had found love and she deserved it. This was what her happily ever after looked like.

She got off the chair and kneeled down in front of Thato. She kissed his forehead and asked, “where have you been all my life?”.