(Today’s prompt from Story A Day was to write in the second person. Let’s see how that goes.)
You look down at him, kneeling in front of you, ring held aloft and you struggle to remember how you got here.
He is earnestly waiting for his answer, the whole restaurant is watching you, and you feel that familiar heat crawling up your neck. How can one person get things wrong so very many times?
You know it’s not your fault, you can’t do what you haven’t learned, but why does your inability to read other people always have to end in such public disasters?
You don’t want to hurt Ronald, of course, but you definitely don’t want to marry him. You don’t even want to pretend you are going to marry him.
This is your worst nightmare coming true, you feel like you have shown up without your skin, exposed and raw and meaty. Why didn’t you notice that he seemed to be needing you more and more? Why didn’t you hear his talk about the future? You can’t remember hearing anything of the sort, of course, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t there. Subtlety isn’t your strong point and sometimes you miss even the most obvious things. You don’t beat yourself up about it anymore but you haven’t found a solution either.
How are you going to get Ronald up off the floor without making a scene? Is there any way to do it? Can you save face, his face, at all?
One part of your brain starts forming an elaborate escape plan involving climbing up through the ceiling tiles and changing your identity and all manner of ridiculousness but another part wants to shoot straight.
Without even consciously choosing to speak, you hear yourself saying ‘Ronald, you know I don’t like spectacle. Please get up off the floor so we can leave.‘
His face crumbles like it was a first draft, a paper ball of dismay, and you feel a twinge of guilt. Not enough to make you change your mind but enough to make you wish, again, that you knew how to handle these things better.
You look at him and look around at the other diners, all of whom are intently studying their meals, and you realize that you don’t want to make better with Ronald, you just want to get out of there. Maybe you didn’t see the clues leading you both here but he’s the one that chose to make the grand gesture, to make it public. He’s the one who didn’t read YOU well enough to know what you would want. He just assumed that you would go along with whatever he wanted.
Now the heat crawling up your neck is fueled by anger. How dare he treat you like this? You open your mouth to start shouting but you shut it again quickly. You don’t need to take this any further, you simply turn and walk toward the door.
You can hear him calling out to you from behind but you square your shoulders and head out into the rain, alone. Your head feels clear and your body feels light, the rain doesn’t bother you in the least.