Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Shopping (03/01/07)
TITLE: Bride Price
By Kenneth Bridge
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Reflecting on how she could mesmerize him by simply brushing an errant strand of auburn hair away from her blue eyes, he was inclined to agree. Still it was a large sum of money and he would have to work a very long time to pay it off.
“Let me see another,” he told the salesman.
“See how the fire rages in this one. Such light, such heat!”
“Yes, she is all that,” he agreed to himself. An image of raven tresses dancing against cinnamon skin while she swayed lithely to her own internal rhythm was etched permanently in his memory. A fire that was at the same time so inviting and yet so terrifying in its overwhelming power. He understood the moth-like bliss of complete surrender but drew back at the last moment. “Let’s keep looking.”
“Brilliant, dazzling, sparkling,” exclaimed the salesman.
This time he saw blond hair, cut in a medium length, an ideal, wholesome, athletic woman, good humored and open for spontaneous fun. She was sunlit easy afternoon picnics on a whim, scoops of strawberry ice cream and the distant shrieking laughter of children at play.
“This is for a lifetime,” he explained. “It has to be just right. I need to keep looking until I’m sure.”
The salesman tried flattery this time. “I see you are a man of discriminating taste. I wouldn’t show this one to just anyone. Its’ the perfect weight and shape.”
He saw through the flattery and despised the tactic, yet this time he had to admit the offering was perfect. He tried to hide his excitement from the salesman in order to bargain from strength, but in the end he still gave too much away. Although he knew it was way too much money, he would have gladly given away everything he owned and ever hoped to own just to know she was his.
He was startled by the unnaturally loud chime of the doorbell as he pressed it. His heart hammered in his chest, the sound of approaching steps was swallowed up by the roaring in his ears. He feared that his knees would give way as the door opened.
She stood framed in the doorway. Her hair now its own natural color, a rich chestnut brown, fell to her shoulders. Her eyes, minus the chameleon contact lenses, were their true amber with a green inner ring. She looked at him with an amused curiosity warmed by affection. He suddenly noticed that her visiting family was behind her leaning forward expectantly on the living room furniture. He hadn’t anticipated this. He was seized with a sudden desire to run. Instead he retrieved a small velvet box from his pants pocket and dropped to one knee, right in the doorway.
He had shopped for a long time for just the right ring that could capture this mercurial woman with whom he wanted to share the rest of his life. Now kneeling before her he was sure that no setting and no cut or clarity of diamonds could encompass all the fire and brilliance and mood and caprice of this woman he loved.
Later he could never truly recall saying those words he had so patiently reworked and rehearsed, but when that moment of surprise on her face, with all eternity an indrawn breath, was released in a flood of joy he knew such relief, such joy, such hope.
He knew then that his ring had truly captured her.
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