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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Astonishment (02/02/12)

TITLE: Expiration Date
By Linda Germain


Kirkland moved to the window to get a better look at the tiny thing that had cost him six months pay. The magnificent sparkle barely reflected the amazing thrill in his heart that the big moment was upon him. Tonight he would propose. Beautiful Susan had waited years to be his wife.

She was the perfect woman for him…so patient and sweet. She seemed to understand his well thought-out plan for their ideal future. Way back in college, sitting on that rickety bench in front of her dorm, he had held her elegant hand and gazed longingly into her lovely blue eyes. Her shy smile had answered all his unspoken questions. Love had both of them bound in its tender trap.

After college, came graduate school and then law school, and of course a couple of years to get his practice going and cultivate the right people. More than that was his goal to save enough money for a sizable down payment on their first home.

Meantime, Susan had begun a career of her own. When her company offered a promotion and a raise if she would move several hundred miles away, Kirkland had hugged her tenderly and looked into those gorgeous eyes for reassurance that she would turn them down and stay on track for their glorious future.

He sniffed the long-stemmed rose once more as he paced back and forth near the fountain where they had met so long ago. The lights placed beneath the flowing water made this spot romantic and perfect for popping the question. He checked his ever present briefcase for the honeymoon brochures. Now that things were ready to roll, there was no need to put it off any longer. He could hardly wait to show her his choices.

The tiny box nestling in his coat pocket seemed ready to burn his hand every time he touched it to make sure it hadn’t escaped. He looked up just as Susan turned the corner. He loved to watch her walk. She held her head high and exuded confidence and serenity. He felt wave after wave of joy and excitement. She had no idea what was about to happen.

“Susan, you’re here.”

Could he have been more inane on such an important occasion? Of course she was here. She merely smiled and accepted the bedraggled rose he poked in her direction.

“Thank you, Kirkland. Where did you get this?”

He didn’t show any signs of hearing as he grabbed her hand and led her to a seat on a cement bench a short distance from the bubbling fountain. The air was sweet with honeysuckle. Susan’s soft hair blew gently in the warm breeze.

The nervous groom-to-be tried to speak but his mouth had suddenly filled with some kind of invisible cotton…and he had prepared such a great speech.

With little preface he jerked the small box out of his tailored suit coat pocket and flipped open the top, hoping the fountain lights would hit the expensive carat-symbol of his undying devotion and turn her world upside down.

“Susan? Susan?”

That’s all he could force through his nearly paralyzed lips.

She looked deep into his sensible, mature brown eyes.

“Yes, Kirkland?”

“Susan…will you marry me?”

The silence was deafening. Why was she waiting? He expected tears and laughter, or at least her enigmatic smile.

In what seemed like hours, as his patience began to wear thin, she took the ring, looked at it for a moment, and then handed it back to him.

“No, Kirkland. Thanks anyway.”

She exuded such confidence and serenity as she walked away.

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This article has been read 372 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Allison Egley 02/11/12
Yikes! I kind of sensed the ending early on, and hoped I was wrong. Makes me wonder what happened to Susan...

Nice job on this though. Even though I was expecting a twist and I was right, somehow it sill felt like a twist. :) Nice job building suspense.
C D Swanson 02/12/12
Wow - this was a surprise to me. I too was waiting for a twist of some kind! So, I guess that in itself was masterful. Nicely done.
God Bless~
Helen Curtis02/14/12
Wow, that was a shock! You did such a great job building up the suspense, I would have liked to read a little more about why she said no; was she annoy that he had taken so long, was she tired of waiting for 'his' perfect future? I think would add to the depth of the characters and take a great story to an excellent one. Well done though on this, I was intrigued.
Linda Goergen02/16/12
I enjoyed the story but I too would have liked to have known her reason for refusing him. Possibly she had become too wrapped up in her own career. You just had to feel sad for Kirkland at the end, his long planned out dream gone awry. Interesting read, well done.