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Rated: E · Short Story · Adult · #1741066
A woman desperately wants to be proposed to. Will she get her wish?
         She stared at her reflection in the mirror, her light green eyes taking in her wiry copper hair, it looked like she had just wrestled a balloon and lost. She hated that hair, no matter what she did to it, it just seemed to spring right back into what it had always been, a mess. After inspecting it critically she reached behind her head, grabbed a fistful of it, and wrestled it into submission, trying to see what it would look like in that cute piled fashion she had seen earlier in that one magazine. Alas, it was no use, her unruly hair refused to cooperate with her, so she sighed and let it drop as she continued to study herself critically. As her eyes roamed over her slim body, she tugged her t-shirt down, mentally willing herself to lose those last few pounds that stubbornly refused to go away. Hands on hips she turned back and forth wishing for the umpteenth time that she had more to work with. She was an okay looking woman she supposed, not a knockout, but with a little time and a lot of makeup she might be able to pull it off.
         She glanced up at the clock, and was startled to see that it was already half past three. Charles was coming to pick her up at 5:30, she needed to get going. He had talked to her earlier last week and asked her if she had anything planned for today, she didn't, so he said great, and hung up. All week he had been extremely tight-lipped, refusing to divulge any information of what he had planned. The thought that this was The Night, the night when he would propose to her briefly crossed her mind, but she quickly dismissed it, not wanting to get her hopes too high.
         She and Charles had been dating for two years now, almost three. A mutual friend had introduced them to each other and they had immediately hit it off. He was sweet and loveable, the kind of guy every woman dreams of (at least she did). He was tall with dark hair and a muscular figure, he had sky blue eyes that just seemed to suck up all your worries and a smile that brightened anyone's day. She thought back to their first date, he had taken her to an upscale restaurant called Le Coeur Brisé. He had been such a gentleman, not letting her pay, insisting on it himself. Later that week they had gone to the theater to watch a performance of Les Mis. She recalled how beautiful and touching it was, and how much she cried at the end of it. That of course reminded her of how she had cried on Charles shoulder on the car ride home and how good his shoulder felt. With a start she remembered that she better be getting ready for the date, it wouldn't be good to be half dressed when he showed up.
         Two hours later she stepped out of her room, freshly showered and changed. Her red dress swished around her knees as she walked, bringing a smile to her face. The strapless dress was one of her favorites, she had bought it two years ago when she was visiting Europe and was glad it still fit. She had finally managed to coax her hair into the approximate shape she wanted but was still busy stabbing pins in here and there when there was a knock on the door. Quickly spitting the last couple pins from her mouth, and slipping into her heels, she let her hands drop and confidently walked to the door. Hand on the doorknob she glanced in a wall mirror and pushed away a stray hair. This night was obviously important to Charles, and she wanted to be as ready as possible.
         She grabbed the knob and turned, jerking the door open, but before she could say or do anything a big giant red bouquet of roses were thrust into her arms. Hugging them to her chest she stuck her face down into them, deeply inhaling the sweet delicate fragrance that wafted up from them.
         “Oh, Charles their beautiful.” she murmured.
         “They remind me of you.” he said, reaching for her hand. A brief kiss later she turned away.
         “I'd better put these in a vase, their so pretty I wouldn't want to have them wilt. Besides, we'd better hurry or we'll be late for our reservation—right?” she said with a question in her voice.
         “I'm not telling you anything sweetie, you'll just have to wait and see.”
But a little while later as they were walking arm in arm down to his car, she couldn't resist.
         “It's so cold out, do you think we'll need jackets?”
         “That's okay,” he replied “the lake will be plenty— Oh, no, you're not getting anything out of me.” he looked down, chuckling.
         The lake! She wondered if they were going on a moonlit picnic, no wait! A romantic stroll on the beach, then wine after-wards. Oh, maybe he had a boat ride planned, how sweet!
         He walked around the car and opened her door for her, smiling sweetly, she blushed. Why did she always do that, she wondered, was he really that cute?
         “Now remember, close your eyes and no peeking until we get there.” he said, sitting down in the drivers seat.
         Keeping her promise she kept her eyes tightly closed, all the while agonizing about whether or not this was the night. Finally he pulled to a stop and turned the engine off. Risking a peek she glanced out the window, but was puzzled by what she saw. This wasn't the lake shore, it was a parking lot. Where were they? Then she felt a shiver of recognition run through her. She knew this parking lot, she had been here before. Looking up she confirmed her suspicion, they were parked in front of Le Coeur Brisé, there was no doubt about it.
         “Oh, you shouldn't have!” she said, turning to Charles
         “Well I know how much you loved it the first time we went so I thought it would be fun to come again.” he said, getting out and opening her door for her. Arm in arm they walked into the restaurant.
         “Reservation for two, the last name is Burgess.” he said as they waited to be seated. Dinner passed in a blur, they chatted, talked, and conversed about serious topics, funny ones, they reminisced and remembered. Their last course was cleared, the time was perfect, the lighting was perfect, and the mood was perfect. Nothing sat between them but and empty table. “This is it.” she thought, “He's going to propose.”
         Reaching across the table he grasped her hands, his face radiating sincerity and honesty. “We've been together for three years now, almost four.”
         She'd noticed.
         “You are the first woman that I've ever considered becoming serious with.”
         Her pulse beat faster.
         “I've brought you here, to the place that we first went out to, for a special reason.”
         Butterflies mysteriously appeared in her stomach.
         “You are a beautiful, intelligent, caring woman and I care deeply about.”
         Her body felt as light as air.
         “I love you.”
         Her heart melted.
         “Oh, Charles, I love you too!” Tears sprang unbidden to her eyes. He smiled, and let go of her hands, reaching into his pocket. She was momentarily confused, until he started to withdraw something. “The ring! The ring! Theringtheringthering!” she thought. “It's actually happening! He's going to ask me!” She felt like she could fly up to the clouds, swoop and shout for joy.
         But it was a pen he pulled out from his pocket, not a ring as he was handed the bill.
         She felt like a rock, plummeting to the earth.
         He flipped through the papers, and started to sign the check before looking up.
         “Oh, wait. Did you want any dessert before we go?”
         Her body felt trembly and frail. “No, that's okay, I'm good.”
         “Great.” He said smiling “Then let's go.”
Walking to the car she was lost in thought. “He didn't do it. He didn't propose. It was all so perfect, so right. We were at the same restaurant, the same table, he held my hand and said we were there for a special reason. What went wrong?” Her heart felt heavy, and she wallowed in a fog of disappointment. Charles was talking to her, so she nodded absently, not really listening.
         “Are you okay? You've been acting all weird since we left. Is anything wrong?”
         “No, nothing, I'm just a little full.” Looking out she actually took in her surroundings and was surprised to see that they weren't heading home.
         “Where are we going? This isn't the way to my apartment.” She said.
         “Oh, the night's not done yet darling. We still have a couple of things to do.” Sitting up higher she kept careful track of the the streets they were on and the turns they made, trying to guess where they were heading.
         It wasn't until they turned onto North Avenue that she realized what building lay ahead.
         “The theater! We're going to see a show!” she said in excitement. Ever since she had been a little girl she had always wanted to be an actress, however life conspired against her and she never achieved that lofty goal. She still adored the theater though and regularly attended.
         “What are we seeing tonight?” she asked with anticipation, trying to remember what was currently being shown.
Charles looked over at her “I know how much you love plays, so you've probably seen it already, but it's The Swan Maiden.”
         The Swan Maiden, she had seen it before, 13 times give or take a few. Ten of them had been in person, six of them had been by professional groups, and three of them had been preformed in this theater.
         “Oh, yes, once or twice I think. But I've mostly forgotten it, so it's okay.” she replied nonchalantly.
         “Great. I got us balcony seating so we'll have a nice view. It's a booth so we'll also have a lot of privacy.” he replied casually, looking over at her.
         Her heart beat faster as she realized that maybe this was when he would pop the question. He had tricked her, she realized, by taking her to that restaurant but then leaving without asking. He was waiting until the play was done, then he would ask. She could see it now, it would be beautiful, the play would end, he would get down on one knee. She would look out, all the lights would be shining and people talking and chatting, but it wouldn't matter because then he would open the box and there it would be, sitting there waiting for her. He would ask, and of course her answer would be yes, what else would it be?
         She would have continued to fantasize but was pulled up short by their arrival. People were just beginning to show up, couples, singles, families, and friends. They all swarmed together, squeezing into the building as it just seemed to grow to accommodate them all. While Charles got the tickets, she sat there breathlessly anticipating the wonderful night it was going to be. She looked at all the people milling around her, and wondered if one of them was going to have a night as wonderful as hers. They might, but she doubted it.
         As they entered their booth, she looked out at the theater that lay below. The view was fantastic, a wave of excitement rippled through her. She couldn't wait. They sat down and got comfy as the house lights dimmed and the play began.
         Though she was enthralled by the lights, music, dancing and acting she couldn't keep her mind on the play. It was too busy doing other things like figuring out if she wanted an indoor wedding or outdoor. 100 guests was the smallest she would ever go, but not more than 900. And although they had never talked about it before, Charles seemed like the type of person who would prefer a smaller wedding so she was inclined to stay around 400.
         “Oh, something's happening.” she thought, returning to the present, her attention riveted for the remainder of the play.
         They stood up and stretched as the lights came back on. The play was finished and people were going.
         “Well how about that.” said Charles “That was pretty neat. I especially liked the ending where they were married and lived happily ever after.”
         “Yeah, I liked that part too. It made me tear up again.”
         “Well, I suppose we should be going soon, it's getting kind of late.” he said, putting his arm around her and walking toward the door. As they left her mind was in turmoil. She felt so confused. She didn't know what to think or do anymore, she had been so sure that this was the night, but now that had been thrown into chaos and now nothing was as it should be.
         They climbed into the car, the emotional roller coaster she had been on today had wiped her out. She was dead to the world and everything in it. It wasn't' until Charles pulled the car over in mid drive that she realized that he had noticed and was concerned about her.
         “Honey, what's wrong? And don't try to tell me it's nothing, I can see it written all over your face. What's bothering you?”
         “I don't want to talk about it Charles, not now anyway. Let's just go home.”
         Indecision flitted across his face as considered her words.
         “No, not yet, I have a better idea. Something that will cheer you up.”
         After a few minutes of driving he pointed out the window.
         “That's where we'll be going, on that hill up there.”
         Curiosity getting the better of her mood, she sat up and looked around.
         The water gleamed in the pale moonlight as the small waves rippled to the shore. A light breeze stirred the grass and the leaves of the trees. Sailboats rocked to and fro in the water, their masts swaying in time. She looked where he was pointing. A silhouette of a tall hill was outlined in the distance.
         They were sitting at the lake. The lake! She suddenly remembered, he had mentioned a lake earlier before they left. Which meant that he had always intended to bring her here. Which meant he had planned this. A ray of hope burst forth from her chest. All that worrying, all that depression for nothing, it was finally going to happen .
         Gathering blankets and pillows from the trunk they spread them out underneath the branches of the oak tree. Laying down they snuggled up against each other, warm in the cold summer night. They talked, they laughed, but mostly they looked and marveled at the beauty of the night sky. The moon was bright enough to leave them able to see, but pale enough to let the stars shine like trillions of little candles, twinkling and glowing in the depths of space.
         Snuggling close she leaned her head on his shoulder, breathing in the scent that she had slowly grown to love over the past 3 (almost four) years. He wrapped his arm around her as they lay there together in the darkness.
         Her mind was awhirl, no matter what she did she couldn't stop thinking. Was this the moment, was this the time, would he finally do it? She didn't think she could handle anymore of the emotional upheavals. Her nerves had been stretched so tight she could hear them twang. No matter what she did she could not calm down and enjoy being here together in the moment.
         After a while she felt his body shift underneath her into a sitting position. She sat up to, her eyes straining in the moonlight trying to desperately see what was going on. Was she imagining it? Did he have something in his hand, was this it?
         It wasn't. He just leaned in to kiss her. It was a nice kiss she supposed. You could even call it a wonderful kiss, but her heart just wasn't in it. She felt broken and stomped on, her heart was laying in little itty-bitty pieces around her feet. She knew then, she KNEW that it was not going to happen, it was never going to happen
         Eventually they got up and walked hand in hand to the car, and after everything was packed, they drove home. On the car ride she desperately tried to keep her spirits up for his sake. She couldn't let him know how crushed she truly was. When they rounded the curve of the road she saw the familiar row of white houses, in the midst of one of them was hers. It stood for security and safety, everything that she wasn't feeling right now. Inside of it she could snuggle down, go to sleep, and in the morning forget this whole horrible episode of her life ever happened. Unfortunately though, it wasn't going to be that way, it was going to linger with her for years, keeping her awake at night and causing her to think back over the years about what she did wrong, what she could have done differently, and there was nothing she could do about it.
         They pulled up and stopped, always the gentleman, Charles got out and opened her door for her. A lone street lamp illuminated their path as they made their way up the sidewalk to the front door. Beneath the porch overhang they stood close to one another. He leaned over, his arms wrapping around her small body, his head coming close to her ear. She sighed, returning his embrace with equal affection. He was her rock, her anchor, he held her in place when nothing else could. Why then did this have to happen? She had no answer. They kissed one last time before he turned away and made his way down the steps. She watched his car leave, driving down the street until it passed out of the pool of soft light cast by the lamp and into the darkness, disappearing from her sight, swallowed up by the night.

Possible last Paragraph:

         As Charles slowly drove away from her house he sighed with regret, his shoulders slumping over with defeat. He should have done it, he thought to himself. He should have taken the plunge. He'd had dozens of opportunities to do it but was so nervous that he just couldn't quite make himself. He thought back over the night, from the dinner, to the play then the beach. He tried to recall if she had shown any emotion or had given him any clue as to what she desired but could not remember. All he could remember was her giddy excitement before the meal and play, and then sullen disappointment afterward. He had originally planned on going to the beach after the play to stargaze, and had almost didn't after hearing her, but decided that she would like it. For a while she did, but then the mood returned. He hoped to the bottom of his heart that she had had a wonderful time, but was doubtful. She hadn't seemed like she enjoyed it. For all he knew maybe she didn't want to marry. He had said he loved her, and had said it many times in the past, and she had said the same to him. But love meant many different things to many different people. Maybe she was just fine with how things were going now. Who knew? He sure didn't. Reaching into his pocket he pulled out a small black box and pried it open with his thumbnail. Inside was a bright sparkling diamond ring. It's size and clarity were amazing. He had spent many hours picking just the right one, he had imagined her face as she opened it up and the joy that would shine on every facet. But she didn't and now it was all for nothing. He gazed at it for a few moments before sighing again and quietly slipping it back into his pocket.

Alt. Ending:

         The car made it's way down the dark road, coming to a stop in front of a small, one level white house. A row of identical houses stretched away in both directions for what seemed like forever. A lone street lamp illuminated their path as they made their way up the sidewalk to the front door. Beneath the porch overhang they stood close to one another. He leaned over, his arms wrapping around her small body, his head coming close to her ear. She sighed, returning his embrace with equal affection.
         “Oh Charles, this has been the most beautiful night of my life. Only one thing could make it even better.” she said in soft quiet tones.
         “Really? What's that?” he asked looking down at her, his face deep in the shadow cast by the porch light. Looking into her eyes he thought she truly was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. She glanced away, eyes cast downward as she replied.
         “Oh, nothing, forget I even said anything.” she felt defeated, even now apparently she would never get her one wish for the night.
         He leaned down closer, his breath tickled her ear as he spoke.
         “Maybe this is what you were thinking of.” he replied, reaching into his coat pocket.
         She looked down as he pulled out the object. She saw it glint, reflecting in the light of the lamp.
         She looked up and spoke, her eyes dancing with joy.
         “Charles, I—“ But before she could finish the cold blade of the knife slid smoothly and quickly up between her ribs, and into her heart, killing her instantly.
         He stepped away, her lifeless body dropping to the ground in front of him. Checking to make sure no one was around he used his key to unlock her front door and drag her body inside. Hopefully this way it wouldn't be noticed until several days later, possibly a week or more. Of course by that time he would be long gone. He thoroughly checked the apartment for any photos of him she might have or anything else that might give the police clues to his whereabouts and identity. He also searched the body, making sure that he had not touched any part of her body with his bare skin and had not left any other possible DNA traces. He was careful, he had worn light winter gloves all evening claiming he was cold and planned on burning them along with all his current clothes and the knife at the nearest convenient time.
         He looked down at her, by this time a large pool of blood had formed where she lay, but even then she still looked radiant. Her copper colored hair had fanned out beneath her, and on her face was that expression of indescribable happiness that had been the last thing she had felt on this earth. He sighed with regret, for killing her was by far the toughest decision he had ever made. They had been going out for 3 (almost four) years now and he had truly planned to marry her until he had got the call. The client wanted her dead and was willing to pay a very large sum of money for him to do it. He had fretted about it for a week, weighing the pros and cons. If he didn't do it, the guy would just hire another man instead, but if he did, he spared her a possibly painful death and got a little reward for it too. He had briefly considered telling her everything so they could run away, but there was no guarantee that she would listen, and even if she did, she would still be in constant danger. Even after he had made up his mind he had hesitated. He had had plenty of chances to kill her this evening that involved much less risk than this but still he could not bring himself to do it.
         He wondered what the client had wanted her dead for. It wasn't his business to know but he was curious. “Probably about money.” he thought. She was quite wealthy and maybe someone wanted a piece of it. Or maybe it was just a personal vendetta, those things do happen you know. Shrugging he continued his work. Moving silently around the house he closed all the windows, shut all the doors and turned off all the lights. He made sure the body wasn't visible from any outside window and that her car was parked safely in the garage before he left. As he drove away he mentally checked off everything that he had done. He had no bank account, preferring to keep his money safe other ways. He had no credit card either, everything from his apartment that he had under a false name three years earlier to the two tickets tonight were paid for in cash. He briefly regretted having to destroy the car, a necessary precaution though, and it would be paid for by his very generous client. He considered his options, possibly in a fire? Yes, a fire, that would be the safest option, it would get rid of any loose DNA, and destroy the car's identification all in one fell swoop. He checked the backseat where his suitcase and luggage was located. When he had got the call a three weeks ago he had made sure that all her family and friends knew that he would be going on a long extended business trip and would probably not be available to contact. No one but her had known that they had gone out tonight and by the time the police connected the long overdue boyfriend to the murder, it would be to late. His plane was scheduled to leave in an hour and he wanted to be on it in time.
         As he drove away he thought about what life could have been like if she was still alive. She really was very beautiful, her face would haunt his dreams for years to come, and even now he felt a small pang of regret in his chest, but he shrugged it off. Business was still business he thought, and he had a plane to catch.
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