Theme: We’re all using the same photo to fictionalize a backstory.
I flip through the hangers in my closet, looking for my tight-in-all-the-right-places black dress. Sure I could wear one of my ten other black dresses but I want the perfect dress for tonight. Tonight is likely the biggest night of my life. I’m going to take a million selfies and I need to look radiant in every one of them. I need to rub this in Christie Abrams smug face – her taunts that I would “die alone” would be proven wrong tonight.
Chester is going to propose. I’m going to be engaged. Before her.
If I could sit down with my 13 year old self and tell her about tonight – oh how many tearful nights I could save her. Like most adolescent girls, I was awkward in every way. My childhood chub hadn’t moved to my boobs yet, I had braces, and I had no idea what to do with my hair. Christie Abrams had a flawless complexion and beautiful hair that fell gracefully down her back. She never had an awkward phase and it made her a real bitch.
But, I learned how to use a hair straightener. I discovered flattering A-line skirts. My boobs came in. Once I entered college, I sloughed off my awkwardness and took a hold of my life, in spite of Christie Abrams.
Chester is having me over for an intimate dinner at his place – a huge step since this will be the first time I’ve been to his condo. I know – how can I expect a proposal tonight when I haven’t been inside his home? I can explain: he’s been renovating for months on a new home studio. We had always stayed at my place in the beginning, and then the renovating started up so we just kept staying at my place. I know what it sounds like, but why would he come up with a crazy story to keep me out of his condo, only to invite me over now? See, it all adds up.
We scheduled this night three weeks ago. He told me he had something really important to show me. He instagrammed a bottle of Veuve Clicquot and tagged me in it. Anybody would expect a ring tonight.
As I sit in the Uber, heading down the busy city streets to see the man who will be my future husband, I imagine what it would be like to run into Christie Abrams on the street. Of course she would act very sweet, feigning ignorance of the damage she did to my delicate teenage psyche. Before she could tell me about her work situation, cute apartment, or boyfriend (not fiancé) of three years, I would throw my ring-clad finger in her face and walk away.
As I walk out of the elevator and head towards his door, I make sure to take my time. When I walk into his place, the beginning of the rest of my life will begin, and I want to savor every moment. Butterflies erupt in my stomach as he opens the door and takes me in his arms.
“Lucy, I’m so glad you’re here. I’ve been looking forward to this night for weeks.”
“Me too,” I tell him. I look in his eyes and see his excitement. He’s a little nervous, too, I can tell. Good. This isn’t some flip decision. And he doesn’t know I’m going to say yes.
“You look breath-taking. I love that dress.” My perfect dress works every time. He takes my hand and brings me inside.
I am undone by his gorgeous condo: stunning views of the city, airy layout, beautiful kitchen with granite countertops. I see two doors on either side of the living room – a two bedroom? Perfect, we can have our first child here before we move to a quieter part of town with a yard. The dining table is covered in candles and the champagne is sitting in ice. Chester goes to the oven and pulls out a roast duck.
“Chester, you are spoiling me.”
“This isn’t even half of it. The duck needs to rest, and, well, I can open the champagne, but I have to tell you… I am just too excited to wait. Can I show you the surprise before dinner?”
My heart starts racing. “Of course!”
Chester puts his arm around my waist and leads me to, what I assume is, one of the bedrooms.
“I want us to share everything with each other. I want to know everything about you, and I want you to know everything about me.”
“I want that, too. Oh Chester.”
He opens the door and… well, there is a ring. A large, steel ring hanging from a metal chain in the middle of the room. No candles, no rose petals, no music. He leads me into this grey dungeon studio, and sits me down in a folding chair.
“Lucy, I want to share my passion with you.”
“…ok?” He rips of his suit – a very well tailored tear-away suit, to reveal a magenta spandex onesie.
“This is for you.” He turns on his music and moves to the ring. He takes a few deep breaths and begins. Unfolding before me is a well executed but ultimately bland ring routine performed with a lot of grunting and counting. I recognize the song – “This Is It” by Kenny Loggins. How appropriate, because over and over in my head I am repeating the phrase “this is it?”
After five minutes have passed of his routine with no signs of stopping, I stealthily pull out my phone. Facebook is open as the screen comes on and whose face to do I see, tearily smiling back at me with a glittery finger on her left hand?
Christie. Fucking. Abrams.