The night outside was cold and blustery, with leaves blowing around the building and the plants bowing to the mercy of the wind. However, inside the library it was warm, and at the table with my Swedish instructor, I had forgotten all about the harsh elements outside. I could only think about him.

He was so patient, so kind, so intelligent! And here I was, so much time spent learning the language and I still couldn’t manage to pronounce the word “I”. He must think I’m an idiot. He was speaking, the soothing baritone of his voice making excellent background music for my thoughts. How could I ever hope to win him over? He’s handsome, and smart, and so gentle.

“Today we’re going to cover pronunciation again, I know it’s your weak spot, but that’s why we must keep practicing.” He smiled and I felt every muscle in my body tense. Was all this worth his while? He sacrificed an hour and a half every other afternoon to teach me Swedish. Surely he had other reasons besides the goodness of his heart?

“Now,” he said, “I want you to recite the alphabet in Swedish.” I began, nervously, each letter a question. He stopped me at D. “No, no,” he said, “Be brave! Louder! More confidence! The Swedish alphabet demands it of you!”

I took a deep breath and boldly said the letters. As if there was no reason to be afraid. And maybe there wasn’t. The Swedish alphabet demanded bravery, volume, confidence from me; life demanded that too. And if I could find the courage in me to recite the alphabet of a language I barely know, knowing full well I might make a fool of myself in front of the man I love, then maybe I could find the courage to bravely, loudly, and confidently tell him how I feel too.

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