Elyssa crosses the restaurant to meet me. This is it. After three years, I’m going to propose today. The ring feels heavy in my dress pocket. She’ll love it. It’s one of the designs from her Pinterest board.
Her hips sway as she approaches. Her little black dress fits her perfect curves. Sometimes I’m jealous of her. Sometimes I want her tiny form instead of my wide thighs and shoulders.
Not a single hair strays from Elyssa’s blonde bun as she slides into the booth across from me. “Have you been waiting long?” She asks, scanning the wine list.
“No,” I’m not sure. Every second has felt like an eternity. I won’t be calm until she says yes.
The waiter takes our drink orders. I get coconut rum and lemonade. She gets a sweet red wine.
Leaning across the table, she takes my hand. “Didn’t feel like Chinese food and binge-watching or did you want an excuse to wear that dress?”
We bought the dress together a few weeks ago. It’s my first real cocktail dress: burgundy, knee-length, off the shoulder. It’s gorgeous. Elyssa rubs her thumb across the back of my hand and her green eyes fix on my lips. My heart hitches the way it did that first time right before we kissed. Her soft pink lips break into a smile. “What’s the occasion?”
“We’ve lived together for a year without killing each other. Isn’t that occasion enough?”
“No,” she says, but she doesn’t press further.
We order and I wonder when I’m supposed to bust out the ring. People usually wait until after they’ve started eating, right?
“Allie, are you okay? You look pale.” Elyssa puts her hand against my forehead. “You’re burning up. Should we take the food to-go?”
She always does this. If I feel slightly nauseous, she tries to take care of me. It’s sweet and sometimes annoying. I brush her hand away. “I’m fine.” Shit. I said the f word.
“Hey, please talk to me.”
“I’m really okay. Just nervous.” I try to drink more alcohol without seeming suspicious.
“This isn’t our first date. We live together.” She takes both of my hands. “I love you, remember?”
I can’t wait until our food comes. In the mirrored wall beside us, I barely recognize my slick, black hair. I’m glad that Elyssa straightened it for tonight. “Elyssa,” I stand up, move to her side of the table, and get on one knee. The carpet feels gross. Maybe I should’ve worn pants.
Elyssa’s face burns red. “Allie?”
I take the ring out with shaking hands. I can barely see her face. I think I’m blacking out. “Will you marry me?”
Her mouth moves, but I can’t hear the answer. She’s crying. She isn’t smiling. Then she’s moving past me towards the bathroom.
To be continued….
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