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Forest fireworks | Kimson Doan 

Get up, get up, get up,” Aaron sang, bouncing on the bed. His boyfriend of three years groaned and resisted, “What time is it?”
“7 am,” Aaron said cheerfully.”
“Why,” Ezra insisted.
“Because you are getting a very special Hannukah present today,” Aaron said.
Ezra opened an eye. “A Hannukah present? But it’s 7 in the morning.”
“Yep. It’s a very special all-day-New-Years-Eve-Hannukah present,” Aaron informed him.
Ezra looked at his partner’s smiling face. He put a palm over it and playfully pushed him to the side. “You are so lucky I love you as much as I do. Fine fine, I’m up!”
Aaron laughed and rolled to the side. “Yep, I am lucky. You are pretty wonderful.” He stole a kiss from Ezra as he sat up, then left the confused lad on the bed as he bounced toward the door. 
“What kind of present is it?” Ezra yawned.
“Special one. Now, get up, get dressed, and come downstairs. Wear something comfortable. I packed your warm clothes already. If you shower don’t wash your hair.”
Ezra stared. “Am I allowed to ask what’s going on?”
“Nope! See you down stairs soon!”

Ezra couldn’t be more baffled. He did what his partner instructed though, and used a shower cap in the shower. He put on some comfy sweats and a favorite hoodie, and joined Aaron in the kitchen. Bagels and lox were waiting.
“Eggs are almost done!” Aaron said.
“Oh this is pretty,” Ezra said.  “I’ll get the drinks while you finish the eggs.”

Ezra gave their pet lizard some crickets, then they had a friendly breakfast in the dining nook. There wasn’t​’ time to dawdle though. Aaron was pouring cups of coffee in to-go mugs as Ezra was putting plates in the dishwasher.

“What’s the rush?” Ezra asked.
“We’re on a time constraint,” Aaron explained.
“We are?”
“We are. We need to be on the road in ten minutes.”
Ezra blinked. “What? We are? Where are we going?”
“Some place special,” Aaron said with a smile. 
Ezra groaned. “You are a horrible tease.”
“Oh you’ll love it.”
“I will?”
“You will.”

Ezra still wasn’t quite awake. Aaron hustled him into his truck. He’d put the cover on the bed for winter, and Ezra had no idea if there was anything in there. He didn’t think too much about it. Aaron was about to put the key in the ignition when he paused. “Oh I forgot the lunchbox I made with snacks last night.” He opened the garage door and turned on the truck. “Warm it up ok?”
“Ok,” Ezra said. Aaron popped out and jogged inside. Ezra thought he took a bit longer than normal, but when he asked Aaron about it, Aaron just said he found a stray cricket. Made sense enough.

They got on the major freeway and drove east. After an hour, Ezra had to ask where they were going. 
“Secret,” Aaron said, pausing to stop singing to the song on the playlist.
Ezra groaned. “You are maddening!”
“You’ll love it.”

Ezra figured it out though, when he started seeing signs for San Bernardino and the 15.
“Are we… are we going snowboarding?” he dared to ask.
Aaron groaned. “You figured it out!”
Ezra laughed. “Really??”
“Well that’s half of the surprise.”
“Yes. It snowed five feet up there recently. We’re going to have a fucking great time.”
“Oh man, hell yeah. I want to spend the last day of the year snowboarding,” Ezra agreed. He reached over and squeezed Aaron’s hand. “This is awesome, thanks.”
“You’re welcome sweetie.”
“Did you get the lift tickets already?”

As expected, they stopped in front of a rental place to get gear. Aaron stopped Ezra from going in though.
“What? What’s a matter?”
“Well you’re going to be renting a board,” Aaron explained.
“Wait…why not?” Ezra asked.
Aaron walked to the back of his truck and pulled the gate. “Because…” he pulled out a long green zippered bag that Ezra hadn’t seen before. “Because you now own a snowboard.” He thrust it into Ezra’s hands.
Ezra’s eyes went huge. “Wh-what?” He opened the zipper and peered inside. “Holy shit this is awesome! Look at the design on this! Is this really mine?”
“Happy Hannukah baby,” Aaron said, his breath white puffs in the cold air.
Ezra hugged him hard, the board pressed between them. Ezra kissed those cold lips until they were warm. “I can’t believe you!”
Aaron couldn’t stop grinning. He was properly proud of himself. Now his boyfriend had a board too and they could go whenever they wanted.

After renting snowboarding boots and getting them fitted, they headed up the mountain. Ezra pestered Aaron about proper clothing for the cold, but to his astonishment, Aaron had packed everything the night before. It was all hiding in the trunk of the car. Ezra was astonished. This was the same Aaron that needed two planners to get through college and routinely forgot what day of the week it was. Ezra couldn’t ask for a better way to spend the last day of the year, tearing up fresh powder with boyfriend by his side.

Ezra though, wasn’t prepared for just how far Aaron had gone. There were even more surprises. They splurged on a nice late lunch in the closest resort, and then Aaron went to the bathroom and came back with a room key.
“…Why do you have a room key?” Ezra asked.
Aaron put on one of those million watt smiles again. “Last part of your surprise. We’re spending the night here. There’s a dance party, a fire ski show on the mountain, and and fireworks being shot off over the snow. I …hope you don’t mind.”
Ezra was just speechless. They hadn’t had a date night alone together since before Halloween. Both were crazy busy at work, saving up money to spoil their cousins and nieces and nephews on Christmas. Now they had an entire day – and night – to themselves. Ezra began to get teary. “Oh my god, Aaron..”
“Oh shit,” Aaron hissed, pulling up a chair next to Ezra. “I’m sorry was this a bad idea?”
“No no! I’m just really happy Aaron. This is amazing. You’re amazing. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have you.”
They shared a deep kiss, despite being in public.

A little girl at the next table exclaimed, “Mommy look those men are kissing!”
“Yes, honey, sometimes men do that like mommy and daddy do that.”
Ezra had dessert sent to their table.

Aaron and Ezra went back out on the mountain, snowboarding until their legs hurt and the sun began to set. Freezing temperatures set in as the sun vanished. They ate dinner, took their luggage up to the hotel room, relaxed. Ezra seriously planned on taking a nap, but when he came out of the bathroom, he was surprised to see Aaron had set up the menorah on the table.
“…Where did that come from?” he asked.
Aaron giggled. “Remember when I went back for the cooler? It was a ruse. I knew if you saw I packed the menorah before we left, you’d be suspicious. So I had to think of a reason to go back into the house and smuggled it out. I put it in the back when I ‘checked it’ before I left.”
“I had no idea you were so sneaky!” Ezra gasped. “Damn. But I’m really happy you packed it. I was thinking about it when you showed me the room key, but didn’t want to say anything.” 
“I know how much Hannukah means to you, Ezra. And all I ever want to do was make you happy.”
“You’re doing a good job.” Ezra walked up to Aaron putting the candles in the menorah. They kissed. 
“Thanks babe. You got the matches?”

Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Hanukkah…” Ezra sang softly, with Aaron’s arm around his waist. They stood there in the quiet hotel room, pressed up against each-other, watching the pretty flames flicker over the metal branches of the menorah.
“What a beautiful end to Hannukah,” Ezra murmured.
“And the night’s not even over,” Aaron hinted.
Ezra looked at his watch. “We have plenty of time. Why don’t you go shower and then I’ll go?”
“Sounds good baby.”

They kissed again. Ezra was gonna take a nap but when he saw Aaron undress for his shower he was over-come with an intense lust toward his lover who had given him such a sweet last day of the year. He dragged Aaron to the bed and they made love, and had a quick nap in each-other’s arms.

Later that evening, they stood all bundled up on the deck of the resort in a throng of party-goers, necks craned to the sky in anticipation of fireworks. Ezra and Aaron each held champagne in their gloved hands.

“10….9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1… HAPPY NEW YEAR!” Everyone screamed. Confetti flew. Fireworks exploded. They finished their champagne and shared a deep kiss. Aaron was not expecting Ezra to get down on one knee and take a ring out of his pocket.
“Wh..what??” he sputtered.
“Aaron Roy Cohen. The trip you gave me today only made me 200% certain that I will never love anyone more than you. You mean the world to me baby. Will you marry me?”
“YES!” Aaron shrieked. People around them applauded. He began to cry as Ezra put a ring on his finger. “I – I ‘m so surprised, did you have the ring the whole time??”
Ezra sniffled. “I’ve had it since Thanksgiving. Just waiting for the right time. Carried it everywhere. I had a hunch you had something up your sleeve… so I brought it. I’m so glad I did.”
Aaron began to cry harder. “I love you Ezra Rosenburg.”
Ani ohevet otcha, Aaron. And Happy New Year.”
“Yes,” Aaron smiled. “The Happiest.”

Captions are fictional.


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