I laid, spread across the couch, my legs on Ana’s lap. “Hey, baby,” she said.
There was a baseball game playing on TV, but I went against all of my manly instinct and gave her my attention.
“What’s going on between us?”
I looked over at her with furrowed eyebrows, “I really don’t know how to answer the question... wha- what do you mean?”
“Well, it’s just that you’ve been so distant lately and... well, listen, I know we’re just in college and all, but this pretty serious to me. I love you and if you feel like we need to talk to someone or like... I don’t know, like you need this to end because we’re graduating next year then just tell me.”
’Stay strong. Keep it in, it’s happening tonight.
This was killing me. I was terrible at keeping secrets. Did she really think I wanted to end us, when what I really wanted was, in fact, so much more? Tonight, was the night I proved that to her.
But, first I had to make it to tonight, and it took everything in me not to get down on one knee right then in my dirty ass apartment.
Out loud, I said, “We’re alright, Ann. I’ve just been tired and stuff.”
How was I supposed to respond to that?
“... Ju- just know that we’re okay, alright?”
She nodded absently and went back to mindlessly watching the game. I, however, couldn’t stop going over the plan in my head.
“Where the hell are we going, Tyler?” I held her hand as I led us through a more secluded place in town, made specifically for big attractions like the circus.
“To the fair.”
She groaned, “I’m serious. I didn’t really planned on being murdered tonight.”
I stopped and turned to her, “I’m serious, too.” I sighed. “Look, I know I’ve been distant, to say the least, so this is me saying sorry. I’ve got a buddy, Ryan, and he hooked us up.
“So, calm down, dying doesn’t need to be in your schedule... and we’ve been together two years. I don’t want to, but if I wanted to ax murder you, you’d be dead.”
“And you’d be the prime suspect.” She countered.
“Exactly, I’m not that stupid. I’ve got aspirations.”
She punched my arm, and I pretended to be hurt for a second before walking with her again. It was pretty dark with the moon hidden behind the trees, but knew exactly where to be.
We stood in the middle of the fair with all of the lights turned off. “What ride would the lady like to get on first, besides mine.”
“Ew, gag me,” she joked with a disgusted face.
“That’s a pretty weird request, but if you’re into that sort of thing we can have a talk.”
I laughed at her expression before asking, “Which ride would you like to get on first?”
I knew the answer before she even said it, “Ferris Wheel.”
Right on cue, the lights came in with the Ferris Wheel. The music that was normally set up to play had been changed to Oasis’ Wonderwall. I looked at Ana’s face through the whole thing, seeing girls her light up put a smile in my face.
“What is all this?” she asked.
Without answering I led her to the ride and we got in a car that was set up for us. I had someone in the administrative control room making sure neither of us died. We went around a few times before stopping at the top.
I heard her breath hitch as I turned to her, “Is something wrong? Why’d we stop?”
“It’s fine.” I was quiet for a minute while she sat giving me a weird look before half-groaned, half-sighed. “Gosh, I must really love you. Do you know how many crazy movie stunts I’ve pulled? I’m just glad I haven’t died.”
She pouted a little but said, “I always love it and they make me love you more and more each time. You’re right though, you should stop, I’m not going to push you that far anymore.”
I nodded, “Thanks. I hope not... but, let me just do one last idiotic stunt. Just for you.”
“Yay, from what movie?”
“What’s the name... uh- The Notebook.”
I casually grabbed the the bar above my head. “What?”
“You’re going to get so hurt.” I leaned back until my feet dangled in the air. “Oh, my god, get back over here.”
‘If I fall I’m going to break every single bone in my body.’ I thought.
“I can do pull ups for I’ll keep two hands, just to be safe,” I assured her. She looked like she didn’t know whether to laugh or be afraid. After glancing at her grip and assuring herself that I was fine, she cracked a small smile.
“You know, if you wanted a date then you could’ve just asked at the house.”
“This date I want to ask you out on is so much more important and special. Trust me, I wanted to ask you at home.”
“Alright... does this mean I can pull your pants down?”
“I assume you wouldn’t want to pants the guy trying to propose to you, s-”
“The guy who what?”
“Um- I had a lot more to say but...” I pulled a small dark blue box out if my pocket with one hand and held it open for Ana to see. The ring wasn’t amazing, but it was the real deal.
I didn’t even have to say anything, she just started crying. She was trying to control herself while I just hung there like an idiot with a sloppy smile on my face.
“Is this a no? ’Cuz, I swear if it is, I’m just letting go.”
“A no, you think I’m saying no to Tyler Meyers proposing to me? ” I shrugged, but she just rolled her eyes. “Yes! Now get over here, my fiancé can’t die before I kiss him and get the ring in my finger!”
I got back in the cab and planted a kiss on her lips, “So just to clarify, that’s a yes? ” I joked.
“And I’m gonna put this ring on your finger, and our moms are going to freak out, and we’re going to get married?”
“Yes, yes, and double yes you absolutely amazingly, surprisingly loveable idiot!” She sighed and pulled me into a tight hug, “Yes... I love you.”
She didn’t say it often because though I knew it, so this only made me hug her tighter. “... I love you, too.”
I felt a pillow hit my face, “Hey, douche, wake up.”
I groaned and turned away from him on the couch as a fully dressed Elijah walked over to his kitchen and flicked the light on. Then, he started to fill up his coffee pot with water.
“Want to talk about why you’re sleeping on my couch yet?”
I sat up and looked over at him saying, “I didn’t want to talk about it at ten o’clock last night, and I definitely don’t want to talk about it at seven o’clock in the morning.”
“I’m sorry that some of us have real jobs,” he pressed the ‘BREW’ butt on the coffee maker, “that actually require that we be there at a respective time.”
“Yes, because an executive producer for a sports talk show is as real job,” I joked dryly. I was actually pretty proud of my friend, he’d worked hard to get where he was at. I remember all those years ago, when his only aspiration was to graduate high school.
He shook his head, “What’s wrong, man? Why are you, a married man, sleeping on my couch?”
I finally sighed and got up, “She told me to.”
“Why? Because of the -”
“Gah - yes, because of the miscarriage, but not this one.” He furrowed his eyebrows, “... Like a year and a half ago, she got pregnant.”
“Oh, dude... You didn’t tell me.”
“We didn’t tell anyone. Me and her, we were so unlucky that we didn’t even get to be happy for a full twenty-four hours before she lost it.”
I cleared my throat, “Ana, uh, she remembered before I told her and she flipped out on me. Asked me to leave.”
“No.” I looked up at him.
“No, Tyler, you’re a complete fucking idiot... and I just said that in the absolutely nicest way for me to possibly muster. When your pregnant, hormonal, crazy, grief-ridden wife asks you to leave... you don’t. Never. It should say that somewhere in those Spouse Handbooks everyone calls vows.”
“I didn’t come her to be interrogated and told I’m wrong, alright? I tried. I looked at the doorknob and the suitcase in my hand and I told myself to stay.”
He looked at me like I was crazy, “Then, why didn’t you?”
“... Because I realized I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to stay and love for someone that wasn’t loving me back. I know you’re thinking that she’s the girl, the Princess- fucking- Peach of our fairy tale and I, Mario, am the only one supposed to fight but this is the real world, Eli.”
He stayed quiet for a moment before saying, “That’s not what I was thinking, Ty... I just don’t understand. The ‘bad boy’ and sarcastic, kinda bitchy, girl meet and fall in love? I mean, your relationship was so perfect and cliché you’d think the shit came out of some chick novel.”
“Yeah, well, there’s a reason books end.” He didn’t say anything as I folded the blanket he’d let me use. When I was done, I looked over at him and he just stood there drinking his coffee. “... Can I use your shower? I’ve got work.”
He nodded, “Sure, I should get going anyways.”
I just grabbed some clothes and showed myself to the bathroom. By the time, I was showered and ready Elijah was long gone. I checked the clock: 9:30. I tiredly got in the car and drove to the photography company’s head offices.
It was too soon that I encountered my first coworker. Leon walked over to my desk, where I was already editing my photos. Somehow his preppy ass mood always pissed me off, now more than ever.
“Back again I see, something going in with missus? Or should I say going wrong?”
I sighed, “I really don’t think you should say anything, Leon, but that’s just me. What do you want?”
If he noticed my attitude he didn’t say anything about it. “Are you heading to the black room today?”
“Maybe. Not with you though.”
“Great, because I need your help with something.”
He drummed on my desk absently, thinking about something, before walking away.
“No, Le-” he ignored me and I stopped talking as he moved out of ear shot.
This was going to be a long day.
“When’s the last time you talked to your wife?”
“If I’m over staying my welcome you can just tell me.” I told Elijah as we sat on his couch watching a baseball game. I’d tried getting a hotel room multiple times, but he always told me not to. “What are friends for?” He’d always say.
“No, dude, you’re fine; I just want to know.”
I sighed and thought for a minute, “Like three weeks.” He gave me a look, ” She’s upstate. I’ve asked Ryan how she’s doing. .”
“Why don’t you just ask her how she’s doing?”
I shrugged, “I’m sure she doesn’t want to talk to me and what I’m I going to do, drive to her mom’s house?”
“No, dumbass. A higher power gave man a brain, and one time they used it to build this crazy machine called a telephone.”
“What makes you think I haven’t tried?”
“... Um, maybe the fact that you live in my apartment and I see you all the fucking time.”
He was right, I hadn’t tried; I was afraid of what might happen. Just then the doorbell rang and Elijah stood up to answer it.
“You’re calling her.”
He turned away before I could say no and opened the door. A man in slacks, a button-up, and tie stood behind it. “Hello, sir. Does Tyler Meyers currently reside in your home?”
“... What’s it to you?”
“I’ve been told to deliver these papers to his hand, specifically his, no one else’s.”
Reluctantly, Elijah stepped to the side, letting the man come in. He walked over to me, large envelope in hand.
He handed it to me and said, “You’ve been served.”
Without saying else he walked out, leaving me staring dumbly at the envelope in my hands.
On the front was a sticky note that read; I think this should be what’s next.