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The Ransom Note
by Edna Nelson
2014-05-10 10:54:25
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“Proposal by noon or your girlfriends gone forever.” The note read. It rested limply one hand as I attempted to  rub the sleep out of my eyes with the other. Glancing the innocently childish handwriting, my immediate response was amusement. “She must be playing another one of her little games” I thought, putting the card down. The lovely card, adorned with blue flowers, though filled with a message that would make someone else jump, reflected a new days light up at me, lovingly. She couldn’t be serious, I of all people, could not, would not, be forced into marriage.

My girlfriend had abducted herself. She had a flare for drama, and her gestures where like indirect exclamation points placed at the end of words randomly in order to stress that something needed to be paid attention to. This expression, signified to me, that in the least. She was mad.

It had only been a few weeks since the marriage equality act had been passed. A calm and sunny morning. I scanned my memory for discussions of marriage, taking a seat at the sky-blue dining table set (that she had refurbished) thoughts came flooding in.  I had refused the idea of marriage, resisted it, denied it, but always concealed this resistance. I marched for rights, I fought for rights. For me love and marriage didn’t necessarily go together, but law had to be fair, law had to be equal. It was something I was committed to. I remembered that I made a promise, imagining that marriage equality never happen. Everyone was saying things about love, I thought there was value in taking a stand myself. Making promises sounded good for the fight.

The only thing I could think was, “how did I not see this coming?” Fact is, we’ve been getting along exquisitely well. The silence in our house had been pleasant. The calm abiding unfamiliar, but comfortable.  If only I had known, had some idea of the resentment she fostered. The anger bubbling underneath that gracious facade.  If only I had understood, that things were not going as well as I had imagined. I thought we were a happy couple. Rather, this sitcom which had mysteriously become our life was no more than a portrait of captivity. I was under surveillance.

Our comrodary was not, in recent days, that of lovers, or even friends. But rather, of observer and unknowing specimen. She did not like the results. I had no idea I was being examined, but her results confirmed what I could have easily told her, had she asked. I had no intention of getting married, ever.

I never thought of myself as someone who would get married. If I had been prepared, if, she would have told me. I might have been prepared myself. For this note, this threat. I did not see this train coming. This did not happen, like a car accident that some people describe watching “in slow motion” It was swift. Like being bitten by a snake, only to comprehend what has happened after the poison had set in. Despite it being a sunny day, I heard thunder clap in the distance. Slowly suffocating, life seeped out of me with one final whistling exhale. As a saving grace, I wondered “Did she mean it this time?”

Glee snuck up on me, as I wondered “Is she really gone?” Is it possible that there would be no more drama? No more sneak attacks in my life? No more subtle postures, or wispy “I don’t know’s” singing out from below forlorn window drawn eyes? Was it possible, that she was really gone?

She was a sensitive thing. Too sensitive maybe. Not small, or even meek, but fiercely romantic. She tried different styles of loving like most women try clothes, always reflecting to see which one worked best for her. She loved me. I felt that fire, even in her anger, I could see it in her eyes: passion, burning brightly.

Of course she would never tell me, never let me know directly, that she wanted to get married. She wanted it to come from me. She wanted me to want to be, married. She wanted to see the same passion reflected in my dull effacing eyes. Because she refused to let me know, to discuss things, she found a way to force my hand. She abducted herself, and wrote a ransom note.

Her purse was gone. I had not idea where she might go. In this case she surely wasn’t going to visit any of her usual places. I had the impulse to seek her out. I wanted to find her. My mind swung back and forth with the consideration that she might actually be gone this time. I felt dizzy.

I brewed a dark cup of coffee, and sat in our beautiful home. Our clean and well decorated kitchen and fluffy bed all gleamed and sparkled with her dust. She had a certain radiance, and spread it all over this place. She sometimes whirled around talking about how she had really loved this place, and loved us in it. It would be hard for me to believe that she would just up, and leave it all behind. Impending doom fell on me, and my heart filled with sorrow. Change was on the horizon. She was just trying to make it simple, a proposal or nothing. Everything would be gone, it would all come crumbling down.

Once I digested it’s seriousness, I took the not in my hand. Admiring the blue flowers, running my fingers across the text. I made my decision. It was 10:33. Dialing her number slowly, I noticed my hands trembled. I glanced at my jacket by the door, keenly aware of the fact that I didn’t have a ring. There were three pulses, and then she picked up.

“Got what I want?” she asked in her most leering criminal inspired voice. “or should I let your girlfriend free into the wind, never to be seen again?”

“Maybe,” I replied, casually, disguising my panic, hating the position I was being pushed into. Leaning into something like excitement that started to creep up on me.

“Meet me at 123 West Elm Street in half an hour.”  she said, an hung up.

The place was a jewelry shop, to my relief. When I noticed what it was I imagined that she would be giddily swaying outside in one of her nicest dresses. But she was no where to be found. I strolled into the shop, and was initially surprised to find she wasn’t there. I asked the clerk if she had seen her. She considered this briefly and responded “There was no body of that description who has visited this place today.” I began to ask her about rings. She started to describe different kinds of stones, cuts, metals, styles, traditions.

I was acutely aware that my love was running late, it was customary for her, but I would have imagined that she would be on time for her own ransom’s deadline. Initially I amused myself with imagining that she might be shopping for a new dress, or nervous about the occasion. Eventually, I got lost in talk about rings. Touching them, imagining her glee, looking at her finger and then brightly looking at me. I would be married soon.

The hour was getting dim outside and a chill had entered the store. We had exhausted the rings, and I had arrived at the fact that she probably wasn’t coming. I looked at my watch, it was 6pm. I knew I was in the right place, I had spent 7 hours looking rings. But, she was no where to be found. For some reason, this didn’t quite bother me. I did my part, I had done the right thing. I walked home with a romantic gait, aroused by the idea of proposal, of marrying. With my head full of ideas, expecting to find her, happily I opened the door.

Her things were gone, even the refurbished sky blue table. It all happened in a blink.

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