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THE PROPOSAL

They were seated in the fast food eatery down the street from the office. The lunch crowd had petered out as people returned to their workplaces to finish up what was left of the day. Her face was turned to him in a profile as she watched the noisy bustle going on in the street beyond the window. He watched the profile. The smooth curvature of her cheekbone. The faint laugh lines tugging at the corner of her eye. The dark roots of her hairline, from where rose the upsweep of her hair pulled back in a bun. He watched her and he realized – again – that he wanted more. More than she was giving. He deserved more, he told himself.

“Marry me,” he blurted out, surprising himself. The surprise wasn’t the words, but that he’d said them then. Of course he had bought a ring and had been carrying it around for days. But he had wanted to propose during dinner in a fine restaurant, with bluesy music playing in the background and the gleaming silver and subtle lights around them adding to the romantic ambience. Certainly not here, in this dusty afternoon, surrounded by the noise of honking horns and irate passersby.

“Huh…” she said, turning her face slowly around to face him. She hadn’t heard him.

“Marry me,” he said again.

She looked amused. She chuckled and then she laughed. Of course she thought he was joking. They didn’t have that kind of relationship. They were friends with benefits. No strings were supposed to be attached. She laughed until she caught his expression, which was as serious as a judge’s, his dark eyes fixed unwaveringly on hers. “Oh my God, you’re serious,” she gasped.

“Yes. Marry me.”

“But – but, that’s just ridiculous.”

“Why is it?”

“Because we’re friends –”

“We’re more than friends.”

“Am I not supposed to love you first before we get married?” she said with wry sarcasm.

“You do love me,” he countered.

“As a friend,” she rejoined. She placed a hand gently on his. “No strings attached, remember? This was just supposed to be physical, no emotions involved.”

“It’s changed. I’ve changed. I want more.”

She sighed. “I knew going in that this was going to be a mistake. I’m the woman, I’m supposed to be the clingy one here.” She waited a beat and reiterated, “This is a mistake.”

“It’s not!” he said. There was something desperate in his voice. “I’ve come to love you. Is that such a bad idea?”

“Yes, it is.” She said woodenly. There was now a distant look in her eyes.

“Is there someone else?” He had to know.

“No.”

“Then why is this a mistake? I love you. You may not love me back now, but at least you care about me as a friend. Love will come. We can get married and I will spend the rest of my life making you happy, as you will make me happy when you say yes to me.”

She smiled at him. It was a sad smile. Then she patted his hand on the table and rose from the seat. “I have to get back to work.” She reached for her bag.

He called her name. She stiffened and repeated, “I have to get back to work. Take care.” And she walked out of the eatery. He watched her go with the sinking realization that his proposal had changed everything between them.

I am @Walt_Shakes on twitter

About shakespeareanwalter

Walt Shakes(@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter.

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20 comments

  1. Talk about trading places. Nice.

  2. Oh no! What a grim tale! Friends with benefit’s a complete no-no! No strings attached is a fallacy! There’s simply no way that at least one person will not become clingy! Having relations with another transcends the physical. Its deep, spiritual, a covenant of sorts. Sadly, a lotta peeps don’t see it this way till the damage is done! Welcome back Walter, its been quite awhile since I read your flash, fast-paced short fictions. This sizzles! Lolz.

  3. Pfft… friends with benefits… There’s no such thing… One person’s bound to want more…

  4. Ghen Ghen! No more ubomchi

  5. Awwww…. sad.
    Tactless guy, acting on impulse and emotions…
    Making a woman fall in love with you is an art. The moment he realized he wanted more, he should first of all make her want more. It is when a woman already wants more that the going-down-on-one-knee-and-saying-romantic-words routine sweeps them away. You can’t just offer a woman that doesn’t love you a ring and expect her to say yes cos she sleeps with you and sees a ring. Women are not that shallow my friend and they don’t live for marriage proposal…
    You goofed there friend…and now you’ve lost a friend, and the benefits too… you are now ‘a mistake’

  6. I’m damn scared of proposals…. what if I say no by mistake? 🙁 :'(

  7. Too bad. Wrong perception tinz

  8. Friends with benefits. Ugh!

    It spoils friendships. No way both parties will come out of it the same. But we don’t learn, we never do.

    Poor dude. Now he’s lost a friend cos no way in hell they will go back to the way they once were. Talk about awkward! Oh dear. I feel for him sha. 🙁

  9. . . . and the ring watched as the benefit sashayed away!

    FWB would hardly remain strictly physical and never emotional over time, but then, history (the type wikipedia, encyclopedia and any-other-nosey-pedia don’t contain) has provided exceptions; a very few business only mechanical duos whose emotions have been murdered since the age of the dinosaurs. Hmmm. . . hooo. . . aahhh. . . done. . . bye! (y’all know what it is).

    But I digress.

    What was he thinking anyway? That he’s some kinda Lord Of The Rings?
    Topazo said the rest on my mind.

  10. Topazo, u harsh shaa.lol. But u are right, it’s an art and the man has to be master and control his emotions to pull it off perfectly. This guy just dey jonze…after all the “cheekbones…and laughlines…and hair roots” wey im dey dream about, all he has now is a retreating back.
    Eketi, i jus dey smh for u…chai

  11. Quite touching… I can imagine how the guy summoned courage to leave the eatery… Shit happens though. So saddening!

  12. Friends with benefits indeed!

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