A tiny diamond caught the afternoon sunshine, as it lay naked in the road. I could see it,abandoned and lonely, through the shattered windscreen. It held my gaze, keeping it safefrom the distorted and twisted figure, which lay beside it. I was aware of the trickle of blood, which entered my vision, and its redness brought my anger back.
“But I love you!” I was crying. And so was she as she framed her reply.“I’m sorry. I love you too, but I can’t marry you.”
“Shush…Let it go.”
I began to wish that I had, or that I could, but I had already gone too far for that.
The day had begun so brightly, the sunshine echoing my mood as I washed and groomed myself carefully. I felt my nerves tingle as I drove through the crowded streets into the city. At the last moment I left the heaving throng and headed towards the town’s jewelery quarter. I parked the car and sat back in my seat, breathing heavily, composing myself. I locked the door, and the voice inside my head reiterated my promise to myself,
‘Look…Think…Buy.’ I deliberately took my time walking the streets, gazing into each window, carefully assessing the merits of each tray. Should it be diamonds, emeralds or sapphires? Perhaps a solitaire, or maybe a cluster. Deep down I already knew the style of ring that I would buy. Simple, plain gold, a solitary diamond set in a clasp, brilliant and strong, but never showy, a true reflection of our love. As I strode the streets allowing myself a respectable amount of time before my purchase, I watched the people go by. Young couples hugged each other, as if trying to prove their love to the outside world by becoming one. They stopped and gazed at trays of diamonds and then into each other’s eyes. When one spoke their partner mirrored their words, agreement followed agreement, and in their giggling, they were gone. Occasionally an older couple passed by, their conservative dress reflecting a lifetime together. They paused to consider a necklace or brooch. When one arm snaked into another then the time for purchase had arrived. I had made my choice. I entered the jeweler’s shop and selected the tray, which contained the ring that I wanted.
“And the lady’s ring size, Sir?”
I held out my left hand. “May I try it on my little finger?” He looked at me, reassessing my sexuality. He held out the ring towards me, rather than placing it on my finger.
“A perfect fit,” I said, examining the ring as it sat on my finger. “This will look beautiful on my girlfriend’s hand.”
I could sense the relief on the jeweler’s face, and he smiled. “Of course, Sir. Are you certain of the fit? Because we offer a comprehensive adjustment service if it were necessary.”
“No, thank you. This is just fine. I’ll take it, please.”
He looked happy at the sale, but I felt happier at the thought of Katrina’s face when I gave her the ring. I clutched it tight in its box in my pocket as I walked excitedly back to the car. There were still two hours to kill before I met her for lunch. I turned my car around and headed for home.
Time felt like a weight around my shoulders. I drank coffee and tried to read but I simply couldn’t settle. I decided to have a bath but even the warmth of the water could not ease my nervousness. The razor glided over my face, for the second time that day, but took nothing with it. I polished each tooth a dozen times, but still the clock’s hands refused to move at a pace quicker than a crawl. And, of course, when I finally had outpaced my tension, it was time to leave, time to meet my fiancée to be. I checked my jacket – ring, keys, ring. I was ready. The drive to the restaurant was short, but the weight of the traffic made every mile drag, and, when I finally arrived, I was torn by the idea that I may even have picked the wrong day. I parked up, and left my worries in the car as I saw Katrina’s face behind the glass door.
“Hi,” she smiled.
“Hi, you. Sorry I’m a bit late, the traffic is murder.”
“That’s okay. Come on, let’s eat. I’m starving.”
We ate and talked, talked and ate, and all the while I was trying to pick my moment, trying to catch a pause in our conversation that would allow my change of direction, allow my proposal, and her acceptance.
“God, is that the time?” Katrina glanced from her watch to me. “I’ll have to be getting back to work in a minute, I never realised we’d been here so long. Talking to you seems to make the time just disappear – Don’t let’s ever stop!”
“Listen, Trina, I’ve been thinking. You’re right, and I’ve never felt anything like this before either. With you life is so natural, so easy. I never want to lose what we’ve got, and I don’t want us to change, so I wanted to ask you….”
She looked into my eyes. It was one of those intense looks that sucked the words from deep within you. I reached into my pocket.
“Will you marry me? I love you.”
“I know. I love you too. But I can’t marry you.”
“But I love you.”
“It’s getting late. Will you give me a lift back to work, please? We’ll talk later.”
I could see that her eyes were as full as mine as we left the restaurant. I hoped that the car would be warmer, but it offered no comfort. I placed the ring, in its open box, on the dashboard, between Katrina and myself.
As I hit the road my eyes were damp with sorrow, fear and anger. Shapes became blurs, as I seemed to move with ease through the clamoring traffic, cutting through the swathes
of metal and flesh. As I drove I became consumed with one thought, one word, ‘Why?” Buildings merged together, and signs became lines on the horizon as I drove to try to escape myself; to escape my thoughts. By the time my vision had returned to reason, it was already too late. The car approaching me had not stopped, and neither had I. Metal tore into metal. Glass shattered, and flesh and bone collided with cold, hard asphalt.
I was staring at her now, cold and lifeless against the blackness. The hand on my shoulder felt firm, reassuring.
“Excuse me, Sir, Do you know the lady?”
I looked through my tears, and thought of Katrina, as I had left her, waving to me outside her office.
“No,” I muttered through bitter tears. “I’m sorry. No.”