Let me tell you a love story.
It’s your standard boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy asks to marry girl, ancestor from the future informs boy that by marrying girl, he ends the world.
Ok, so maybe not your standard love story…
Anyway, it all begins in a small park in a quaint English town, where the streets are home to markets and the people wash their cars in the hopes of invoking rainfall. For now, the sun was shining in between the intermittent haze of cloud, and Luke Jones stood across a small river, with his friend Neil.
“Are you sure?” Neil said.
Luke nodded, so Neil asked again.
“Are you sure you’re sure?”
“I’m sure,” Luke said.
“That’s not very sure.”
“Look, I’m definitely sure, alright? If I wasn’t sure, I wouldn’t be here.”
“I know, but you asked me to keep asking if you were sure, and to look out for any signs that you weren’t sure.”
“This is ridiculous.”
It really was, yet necessary. If anyone was to help Luke overcome his nerves at asking his girlfriend, Tracy, to marry him, it was his old friend Neil. While Luke had been happily with Tracy for the last couple of years, Neil was on a one-man mission to carve enough notches to destroy his bedposts, armed only with his suit, slicked back hair, and soul patch.
He looked like a tool.
Yet, he was a tool that Luke could use in this moment. If anyone were to distract him from a future of domestic bliss, it would be the man who not only lived for ‘The Game’, but also weirdly succeeded at it. It would be repulsive if it weren’t so amazing.
“So you’re sure then?” Neil said, a smile beginning to curl from the side of his mouth.
Luke smiled back. “I’m sure.”
Neil slapped him.
“Ow! What was that for?”
“I’m literally slapping some sense into you.”
Luke wanted to ask ‘why’, but instead just scowled at Neil, mostly because he remembered in a drunken fog asking him to do so.
“Look, no more slaps, no more questions. I’m going to ask Tracy to marry me.”
There was a pause, before Neil cheered and embraced Luke in a hug, although at first Luke thought another slap was incoming.
With that nonsense out the way, the plan for Luke’s proposal was set; Neil was to command a radio-controlled boat carrying the ring across the river, while Luke met with Tracy, feigned the need to tie his shoelace, and then unleashed the question that would spark the beginning of the rest of his life. In most respects, it was a genius plan, which while lacking in the grandeur of most proposals, at least had some originality.
The only thing that worried Luke was Neil’s mastery of the radio-controlled boat. He watched as his friend fiddled with the controls, making the boat sway in a manner of direction that made Luke see the ring plunge into the murky depths below.
Which, to be fair, was only a couple of feet. But they were murky 2-feet depths.
“Are you sure you know what you’re doing?”
“Are you?” Neil said, between levels of concentration that could only be described as ‘intense’.
“Look, if you lose that ring…”
“I’ll buy you another one, lover.”
“This is serious!”
“Only if you let it.”
Luke was prepared to berate Neil some more, when he caught sight of Tracy in the park. There was no more time for banter – the time of the proposal was at hand. Everything was now left to the fickle hand of fate to ease him into a life of domestic bliss, or brutal rejection.
Although Luke was confident the latter only had an 18% chance of happening. Of course, that’s still better than 19%, but worse than 17%.
You get the idea.
With that, he left Neil to skulk in the bushes – a practice he was sure the womaniser had experienced a number of times – and made his way around to the park. It was a sizeable area, containing a number of community football fields and children’s play areas, and was the place where Luke had taken Tracy on their first date. In fact, if it hadn’t been for the vomiting tramp who had asked them for change, it had almost been the perfect first date.
Of course, there is no such thing, so this was the closest they had.
That said, it made sense to Luke to meet Tracy here to start the next chapter of their life. Sure, there was still a little bit of doubt in his mind, but he dismissed that as a natural part of the process; a moment of nerves that helped to focus him on his life-changing decision.
It got worse the closer he got to her. The sweat started to pepper his brow, his heartbeat thundered in his chest with the power of a monsterous storm. This was it; this was the moment his whole life would change forever.
When Tracy saw him, the nerves got worse. Even her smile only slightly dampened the acidic flames.
“Hey you,” she said, and with that the flames died down, and Luke felt relaxed again.
It was always the way, and the reason he had fallen for her; a simple smile and laidback greeting instead of all the intense, lovey-dovey stuff you saw in movies. For the most part, Luke felt calm around Tracy, like she was a good friend as well as his girlfriend. Sure, there was the feeling that by proposing, that friendship would potentially die out, but it could get better, of course. Such was the gamble with love.
For now, the two embraced, shared a kiss only lovers can have, and started to make their way, hand-in-hand, along the river. It was in almost parallel to their first romantic encounter, save for the presence of Neil in the bushes, controlling a boat.
“So what’s happening?” Tracy said. “I thought you were meeting with Neil.”
“Oh, well, you know Neil…”
Luke laughed. Tracy had never liked Neil, not since he tried to sleep with a decent percentage of her friends. However, one had to tolerate the friends of their loved ones, no matter how smarmy they were.
I mean seriously, he had a soul patch.
Luke went on to explain, as best he could, the scenario that had meant him leaving Neil, and asking to meet her here. In truth, he didn’t really have a master plan to explain the circumstances, but by that point meeting with your significant other didn’t really need a reason. Except, he very much had a reason, which would soon come apparent. As Tracy looked around the park, Luke made sure that Neil’s control of the boat hadn’t resulted in the ring going overboard.
Thankfully, the boat was on course, and the plan was about to be unveiled.
“Trace,” Luke said.
As his girlfriend turned to face him, and Luke went to pretend to tie his laces, his phone rang.
There was an awkward pause as Luke let the musical delights of The Cesarians blast out of his phone, while debating whether to answer, or whether to continue the plan. Tracy just looked at the source of the ringtone, while Neil diverted the boat from where they stood, and did a quick lap around a duck.
“Are you going to answer that?” Tracy said.
“I’m sure it’s not important.”
Luke smiled, despite his eyes screaming in frustration, and checked his phone.
It was his housemate, Iggy.
“It’s only Iggy.”
“Iggy never calls you.”
“Exactly, so not important.”
“But if he’s calling you, surely it must be important?”
Before anymore debate could continue, Iggy’s call rang out, and Luke breathed a sigh of relief. Right now, what he didn’t need was a distraction. He needed focus, resilience, and the ability to ask his girlfriend to marry him.
The nerves were building again, and not just because Neil was now racing ducks who had interest in the boats contents.
“Look, I wanted to tell you something,” Luke said, before thinking over his words. “Well, ask you something.”
Luke turned around to check on the status of the boat, and saw that Neil’s race with the local mallards was not going well. He had to stall, which was incredibly annoying.
“You know how we’ve been together a couple of years?”
“I had noticed.”
“Yeah, well, anyway…”
The music began from Luke’s phone. Iggy was back.
Tracy just smiled politely, as Luke’s teeth grinded together with quite the force. He grabbed his phone, tapped the screen, and held it to his ear.
“You’ve got a fridge,” Iggy said.
Not only was Luke still annoyed at the interruption, he was now confused.
“I’ve got a what?”
“You’ve got a fridge.”
“I heard that bit. Why have I got a fridge?”
“I don’t know why you’ve got a fridge, except that you have one, it’s outside the house, and the delivery guys need your signature.”
Luke stretched out another forced smile to Tracy, who raised her eyebrows in sympathy.
“I’ve kind of in the middle of something here, Iggs.”
“And I’m faced with some pissed off delivery men who want a signature.”
After much back and forth over who can sign for it and why, Luke took a deep breath, watched the boat with his ring on it race down the river, pursued now by a swan, and slumped.
“I’ll be there in 5.”
This pleased Iggy, who signed off. Meanwhile, Tracy stood there, ever the patient girlfriend, and placed a hand on Luke’s shoulder.
“I’m sure whatever it is, it can wait.”
It could, but Luke couldn’t help feeling that somehow the Universe had conspired to stop him from proposing. The plan was all ready, the people involved had all come together at the right point, and now here he was, having to go home to sign for a fridge.
Which is where I come in…