February 16, 2009

Docile

One of the short stories I included in the fiction pack. It's pretty twisted, I'm warning you upfront.

Docile

“She might say no; don’t you worry about that sort of thing?”

“Why would she say no?”

“I don’t know. She might though. What would you do?”

“Why would she say no?”

“I said I don’t know! This is theoretical, rhetorical, whatever. What if she says no?”

“She won’t say no.”

“Yes. I know it’s unlikely, but if she does –”

“– What are you doing? Are you trying to make me nervous?”

“Never mind.”

“I’m happy, why are you trying to ruin this for me?”

“Never mind.”

“That’s right.”

“I am happy for you.”

“Good. Me too.”

***

The woman (or girl to be more precise; as she was barely sixteen) stretched out on the sand and slitted her eyes, searching for a single cloud in the open reach of sky above. Smiling at her failure she angled herself so that she might soak up every last ray the sun was offering on this faultless day.

          Waking from an all too shallow dream the girl was surprised to find a man standing beside her. His clothes were unbefitting of the typical holiday-maker; somewhat overdressed in an impeccable grey silk suit. She gave a nervous little laugh as the man – who was more elderly than her first cursory glance had suggested – folded onto one knee and rummaged in his pocket, a foolish grin on his face. A small velvet ring box appeared resting in his palm and he looked up at her as he opened it, oblivious of her horrified reaction. His meticulously rehearsed speech went unheard as the girl got to her knees and half-ran half-scuttled away around the side the sand dune.

          The man was puzzled and thought to follow his intended, before realising she had left all her things in front of him. Surely she would return, and she would find him waiting for her, just as a loyal husband should. Satisfied, the old man unbent his creaking knee and stood, blissfully happy, blissfully unaware of the shrieking girl in the distance.

***

“What did she say?”

“She said yes. Of course.”

“That’s wonderful! What did she say? Was she surprised?”

“Yes, I’d say surprised. And she didn’t really say anything, but the sentiment was definitely there.”

“That’s – wait, you mean she was overcome by emotion? Couldn’t speak?”

“No – she ran off to tell her mother, or ask her father, I think.”

“Well, how did she look when you asked her?”

“Overcome.”

“With joy?”

“What else?”

“Let me see the box.”

“What?”

“The ring box. Let me see it!”

“Alright, shush, this a happy occasion.”

“Dammit Abbott! The ring is still in here.”

“I know.”

“Well if she’d accepted your proposal don’t you think she would’ve put it on?”

“No...She was happy. She went to tell her family. She was overcome.”

“Abbott, look at me. Hey! Look at me.”

“What?”

“I don’t think this girl agreed to marry you.”

“That’s ridiculous. I proposed to her.”

“Yes. I know, however, it just doesn’t sound like she and you are in the same place. Emotionally.”

“Oh.”

“Look, how long have you known her?”

“How long have I known her, or how long have we known each other?”

“The second one.”

“Well. She met me today, but I’ve always felt a connection with her. Ever since she was a little girl.”

“You – met her today?”

“Yes.”

“Why didn’t you ask her out or something before proposing to her?”

“On a date?”

“Yes.”

“She might’ve said no.”

***

The girl walked slowly home, the events at the beach almost forgotten but for the absence of the towel under her arm. She had cautiously crept back to her sunbathing spot later that day to retrieve her possessions and was appalled to find the old man standing there, watching the spot where she had departed and grinning inanely. She felt the cold more acutely than she should and began to walk faster; passing an old oak tree on her left where a well dressed man sat; talking to himself.


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