The fiendish Chuck Wendig has been up to his flash fictional tricks again. Last week's challenge is to select three random Flickr photos, using the handy dandy tool located here to select them, and write a 1000 word story. The pictures I chose are this one, this one, and this one. However, since I am a Slowey McSlowerton from Slowville, I did not complete it before the Friday deadline. This week's challenge is to write a 1000 word story in the present tense. I'm going to (hopefully deftly) combine these two challenges into one with this story. I call it "Sunday Morning On Thornton Street"
It wasn't the Grand Canal or the Champs Elysees, but walking down Thornton Street on a sunny fall day with David still felt pretty good. We had just returned from two weeks in Venice and Paris, where he had to go for work, and since we managed to cash in enough miles for me to join him, it became as much of a honeymoon as two unmarried people could have. I have loved David for nearly all my adult life, so after we spent most of Saturday sleeping off the time changes, when he proposed a stroll down to Marge's Cafe for coffee and pastry and the Sunday paper, I couldn't have been more willing.
We walked silently. We both felt talked out, I think. The house we bought together was a pleasant 8 minute walk from a strip of small stores that featured a drug store, the cafe, and a convenience store with a newsstand, all opposite an open park with a softball diamond and dog run. Our dogs, Buster and McCormick, ranged nearby, examining every leaf and scrap of newspaper as we walked along the sidewalk. You were supposed to have them on leashes, but they knew better than to range too far.
I was at the age when our friends were getting married and having babies, so each time we gathered in someone's living room to celebrate one or another of these events, the question laid on the table like a dead fish. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, it came up, implied or expressed, from relatives near and far: when are you two getting married? And the answer was, basically, when we were good and ready. I was never the kind of girl who dreamed about a princess wedding. I was always more interested in playing kickball with boys than talking about them. But still, the questions came, and I fended them off as best I could. A well meaning, "what if you get pregnant" parried with "we're careful," and a "what if he leaves you" answered with, "he'd have to get out of the lease, which is twice as hard as getting a divorce."
We usually got our coffee and donuts to go, then walked back with the paper, feeding bits of plain donut to the dogs as we went, before settling down into a lazy Sunday sprawl. He was watching me approach, which always made me feel a little bit like I was on stage. He had a scraggly beard, because he hadn't shaved since we left Paris on Friday. His look was intense, with a palpable weight to it. I never felt worthy to return his gaze.
"Hey, you," he said, his voice still thick with sleep.
"Me?," I asked innocently. I still felt the little lurch in my chest when he looked at me, like I suddenly was able to breathe deeper.
"No, McCormick," he said. "Of course you, silly." One of the things I loved most about him was that we laughed constantly, at small things and big, at serious things and trivial.
I altered my path to come in front of him. He stood with his legs slightly apart, a posture that allowed me to slide up close. He was just tall enough- not so tall that we looked like a freak, but just tall enough for me to have to wear heels, or go high on tiptoes when I was wearing sneakers, in order to kiss him. The first time we ever danced together, I remember I surprised myself by sighing when I noticed how well we fit.
"Come here," he said. I could hardly be any closer. I took two more tiny steps towards him. My feet were between his shoes, my thighs brushing his, looking up into his face, his charming crooked nose.
"Yes?," I said. I didn't have any idea what he wanted. I felt this aura of trust and love. Both dogs stopped, looking at him expectantly.
"Marry me," he said.
I didn't think I heard him right.
"Will you marry me?," he said again.
"I don't care."
"I don't care."
"I don't care," he said again. "Invite everybody or invite nobody, I don't care. I love you, and I can't imagine a world without you. Let's shut everybody up and do it."
"Oh my god," I said, my head spinning. I felt tears springing into my eyes, blurring my vision.
"You haven't said what your answer is," he said calmly.
"Oh my god," I said again, my voice breaking. "Yes, of course, yes," I said, before stepping closer, standing on my toes and kissing him, his arms around my waist, next to the black iron fence while the dogs and God and everyone watched.