Rachel dashed around the corner, then rapidly skidded to a stop. Dead end.
She caught her breath as she turned around and headed back to the left. How am I going to find my way? I must have taken a dozen turns, she wondered. She glanced down and flipped open her cell phone. Nine minutes so far. He can't be too far ahead, or behind, if I'm lucky.
She moved along the tall walls of corn stalks, trying to remember each turn. In the foggy moonlight she could barely make out the ground, let alone the edges of the corn maze.
Squeench! Her sneakers pressed into a mound of mud. She flashed the open cell phone toward her feet. “Great!” she spoke aloud. Thick, sopping wet mud stretched out for the next hundred feet in front of her. To the right was the way she had come beforehand....maybe. “Well, I have to try it.”
She ran forward, squeezing along the sides of the path to avoid the deepest areas of mud. Her jeans picked up splatters as she pressed on, coming to a stop at the next crossroads. I'm going with my gut this time, she thought, and quickly headed left.
Fog hung over the tops of corn stalks, and the nippy autumn air threatened to chill her, but her fast-paced run kept her heart rate up. Her breath came out in the bursts of steam which she and her little brother had often dubbed “dragon-breath.”
Spending the days with Andrew had made her so happy, that even the very thought of him caused her face to flush and her stomach to nervously churn. That alone kept her from feeling the sharp cold of late October.
The smell of fallen leaves from nearby maple and oak trees floated along the night breeze. Hot cocoa and fresh “real” popcorn waited for them after their race through the corn maze, which spurred her toward her goal.
She slipped around the next right turn. Light from the lantern at the end of the maze glowed from the far left end of the path. “Woohoo!” she cried, racing toward the end.
Rounding the corn stalk to the left, she almost ran into Andrew, who stood leaning against a post with his arms folded. “It's about time,” he said, grinning.
“Whatever!” she said breathlessly. “I'm sure you made it just before I did.”
“Yeah, by maybe five minutes,” he teased. “You look all flustered. Take a few wrong turns?”
“Shut up.” She took in several deep breaths and forced herself to rest. “You ready for some cocoa?”
“Yes....but....I kinda lost my phone....” he confessed.
“Andrew! How did you lose your phone while running a corn maze? This is huge! How will we even find it in the dark?”
“I was thinking we could use yours, silly. Just call mine and listen for the ringtone.”
“Oh.” Rachel sighed as they headed back into the maze, this time on the hunt. So much for cocoa! Silly boy....
His plan worked, though, and they soon heard the faint ringtone not far from the end of the maze. Andrew grabbed her hand, and they began to run in the direction of the sound. “This is fun,” he panted.
“What? Holding my hand?” she laughed.
They turned to the right, and the cell phone glowed at the edge of the path. He dropped to his knees to pick it up. “Sweet!” he exclaimed. He reached into his coat pockets. “I just want to make sure I didn't lose anything else.”
“Please do,” Rachel said. “Anything else would be harder to find than your cell phone! Need a hand?”
“Yeah.” He looked up into her eyes. “Yours.”
Her eyes focused down at his outstretched hand. In the dim light sparked a bright diamond ring!
“Rachel, will you marry me?”
Her eyes widened and she flew into his arms. “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
* * * * *
“You've got mud all over you,” Andrew pointed out.
“Of course, it has nothing to do with my boyfriend frolicking in the mud to find his cell phone, to cover for his proposal.”
“Fiancé,” he corrected. “And you didn't have to jump down and knock me over me in your excitement.”
Rachel laughed. “Fiancé.” She sighed, gazing down at the ring on her left finger. “It's my favorite time of year.”
He grinned. “And you are my favorite person. Happy fall!”
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