Often, evil shines. It doesn’t always come looking ugly. Many times, it presents itself as spotless, polished silver. It can even present itself as a friend; a bosom buddy that comforts and cares; a confidant even, until the clock strikes 12:00 on their act and they turn into the measly mice that they are; revealing their true nature. That’s the sad reality of life. If Addison had known that the lady who crashed into his life that day would be the epitome of evil, perhaps he may not have received her opulent offers with such glee.
Addison sat nervously in the middle of the restaurant that Sunday evening fiddling with the small velvet box in his right trouser pocket. After nearly 3 years with Amerley, he was finally ready to propose to her and tie the knot. He had picked her favourite restaurant, the place she had chosen herself on their first date. It was a bit expensive for him then, but he liked her and wanted to impress her so he found a way to make it happen. It may have taken him another 3 months or so to pay off the loan from his cousin Kumi, but it had been worth it.
He glanced at his watch for the umpteenth time that evening. It was after 7:00 pm. She was over 30 minutes late. Unusual, even for her. He was the one who was usually behind time. Fifteen minutes later, Amerley had still not shown up. The waiter came over a second time and asked if he’d like to order but he declined, insisting that he was waiting for someone and would order when she arrived. He called her phone, but there was no answer. And Amerley was almost always on her phone. This made him even more nervous than he’d been all week. He’d never proposed to anyone before, and wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. Of course, he’d seen it done a couple of times in movies but never in real life. He hoped that his practice in front of the mirror at home would pay off, but this delay was messing with him.
In contrast to the liveliness of that table, another couple sat in the shadows at the extreme end of the room, away from all distractions, fingers interlocked and deeply engrossed in each other. They looked happy and in love. Watching them encouraged Addison. Another lady sat alone, consumed in a phone conversation, gesturing angrily and trying to keep her voice down. In the aisles, two waiters shuffled back and forth, bringing in orders while 3 others sat behind the register chitchatting and chuckling. Addison had chosen this night for a reason; he didn’t want too many eyes on him when he proposed to his girlfriend. Crowds made him nervous. He would have preferred to propose in the privacy of his humble home, but Amerley was one for PDA, and he’d come to accept that. Reluctantly.
A few minutes after 8:00pm, Amerley strutted through the doors with an air of nonchalance about her. Like a cat on a hot tin roof, Addison jumped up from his seat to welcome her with a hug. Seated, Amerley waved to the waiter for the menu without apologising for her tardiness. The waiter trotted over with the menu for their order. Addison, who was now more nervous than before, kept his hand on his pocket to ensure the ring stayed in place. At least, that he could control, unlike his heart which had somehow navigated its way into his mouth. After the waiter left, he leaned into the table, searched for her eyes, and reached for her hand. She turned to look at him but avoided his gaze.
“How was your day?” he asked, caressing her knuckles.
“Mmm…It was okay. You know, the usual. Went to church with Ma – she says hi by the way – came home and watched TV,” came the absent-minded reply as she strayed from his gaze to her phone.
No reason was given for why she was late. Addison didn’t bother asking either. He had to reserve his energy for the proposal.
“I see,” he responded. “How’s your mom doing now? Did she go and see the doctor about her knee?”
“Not yet, she said she’ll go sometime this week.”
“Okay, let me know when. I’ll see if I can take some time off work to take her to the hospital.”
“Mmm, okay…thank you,” she said offhandedly.
“And you, how are you really doing? We haven’t spoken in a while. How’s the new job? It’s been, what, 2 months since you started?”
“Oh, it’s fine,” she said, pulling her hand away from his to brush her hair off her face, and returning it to her phone. “I’m just busier than I thought I’d be. My boss sends me on a lot of errands and we close very late,” she continued, eyes still on her phone, uninterested in the conversation.
“I see,” Addison said, as the waiter came over with their drinks and set them on the table. Addison smiled and thanked him.
Amerley picked up her drink, positioned it between Addison and herself, and started taking photos for Instagram. She handed over her phone to Addison and had him take more photos of her with the drink. He didn’t mind. While taking the photos, he took the opportunity to admire the woman of his dreams and smiled to himself. Strong, bold, ambitious, and eloquent all wrapped up in a fine body. The finest, he might add. When she finally settled, he slipped his right hand under the table, into his pocket, pulled out the engagement ring, and held it on his lap. By now, he was so keyed up his hands trembled. After going through his rehearsed lines in his head, he looked down at the ring box on his lap, opened it, and slid down clumsily from his seat onto the floor on one knee.
“Naa Amerley Annan, the woman of my dreams, would you make me the happiest man in the world by becoming my wife?” he said shakily.
Suddenly aware of his position on the floor, Amerley turned to look at him with a wry smile, reached for the ring, and grabbed it from Addison.
“Awww, it’s beautiful, Addy. OMG,” she exclaimed in feigned excitement, fanning herself with her fingers. She set the box on the table, inspected the ring and took pictures of it with her phone. Still kneeling, Addison looked at her, puzzled. The scene was starting to draw the attention of the other diners, so he got up, rubbed his knee and sat back down.
“Umm…so…will you marry me?” Addison asked again not getting a clear read on the situation.
“Okay, so Addison, you know you’re a nice guy and I like you.”
Like me? Addison thought to himself. When did we go from love to like? He wondered.
“Don’t get me wrong,” she continued. “The ring is nice. I mean it’s beautiful. But I’m not ready to marry now. I…I…have other plans.”
Other plans? What other plans? Addison was in shock. She was his plan. Everything he envisioned for his future included her.
“So, I’m sorry but can’t marry you right now. Actually, I came here to tell you that we should…that we should maybe break up,” she added, pushing the ring towards him.
to be continued…