Day 63: Start a story with “This is what she wants most in the world.”

This is what she wants in the world. She looks down at the flowing white dress through the veil before her eyes. She smiles as she thinks about the proposal.

She was running late of course, but she’d never been on time. It had been a year ago, with him sitting patiently at their table, fingers tapping away as he imagined stink-eye from the waiters and all the horrible things that could have happened to her between the airport and the restaurant.

Then she’d walked in and he’d smiled. He’d always made her feel so special, in a safe way, like nothing could go wrong when she was there with him.

And she smiled right back. And said yes when he’d dropped to one knee. So traditional. She’d phoned her mum to talk about it and Mum had told her all about his visit to the house to ask for Dad’s blessing. My dad, with his Bargain Hunt and tartan slippers, being asked for his blessing. Of course he’d said yes.

A year had gone by so quickly. And deposited both of them here. He was waiting for her just through those double doors.

This is what she wants most in the world.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 42: Waiting

I stared at the second hand as it swept across the azure face of my watch. She was only forty-three seconds late. That was nothing to worry about, surely.

‘Would Sir like to taste the wine?’ The waiter asked, teeth shining bright in the pitiful ‘you’ve been stood up’ fake smile. ‘Or would Sir like to wait for a few minutes?’ I just nodded, staying silent as I pushed my hair back off my forehead. His shiny shoes clip clopped away as I put my head in my hands. Two minutes, fourteen seconds. Something had to have gone wrong. I scrabbled in my pocket for my phone, wishing it to vibrate, to ring, to actively disrupt the enjoyment of the diners around me, from Banker McStarchcollar through to ‘This dress was so much longer on the website.’

But there was nothing. I glared at it, hoping that it would make it flash up with that tiny red circle. But no, it wasn’t meant to be. It mocked me with its silence.

‘Sir, perhaps you are ready for the wine now?’ Shiny Teeth was back. I could feel the corner of the felted box digging into my chest as I reached across the table. Honestly, this stripling was barely old enough to shave and he was bringing wine across and showering me with pity. My watch reflected the half-burnt candle, as it passed quarter past nine. Five minutes, thirty eight seconds.

‘Yes. Yes please.’ I blurted. The burgundy liquid flowed easily into my glass as I tapped my watch. Perhaps there was something wrong with it? Yvonne had looked at me funny when I was the first one into the meeting today. Though she might have seen the box, I’d just been tucking it into my pocket as I wandered in.

Eight minutes now. My watch can’t have been that wrong, surely? She had to be late now. Maybe she’d forgotten, and her phone was out of battery? Or her car had died, perhaps. No, she was coming by bus, she’d told him on the phone,when she’d just got home from work. She’d said that she was just putting her phone on charge.

What if something had happened to her? She could have been mugged, or kidnapped, or in an accident? Maybe she was being held hostage by a disgruntled ex-bomb squad policeman on a bus that couldn’t go under 50 miles an hour or it would explode?

Wait, that’s the plot to the film Speed. Probably not that.

Twelve minutes gone now. Why hasn’t she phoned, or text, or anything? I’ll take smoke signals, a courier, even a message from the spirit world. That napkin just moved on its own… No messages from the spirit world please. The box in my breast pocket feels heavier then ever, weighing me down with worry. Could be a wasted £1200…

She’s just walked in. Fifteen minutes late.

‘Hey sweetie,’ She leans in and kisses me on the cheek, her raven hair brushing my skin and setting the butterflies free from the pit in my stomach. ‘The bus had to go around some kind of protest on King’s Lane. I tried to call, but your phone was going straight to voicemail.’ Her voice was like honey on my ears. Fifteen minutes is a long time when you’re waiting for the woman you love so that you can ask her to be your wife. ‘You weren’t worried were you?’

‘Me, no. No no no…’ I shook my head vigorously before checking my phone again.

I’m such an idiot. I’d turned airplane mode on when I came in the restaurant to make sure that nobody could interrupt me.

‘So, what’s the big occasion? We only ever go to Romano’s when it’s something good.’ She smiled at me. I’ve never seen anything more beautiful than that smile. It could bring spring to an eternal winter.

‘It can wait until after.’ I poured her a glass of wine. This was going to be easy. I don’t know why I let myself get so worked up. ‘Shall we order?’

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day Number One. Second Marriage.

It’s amazing how long it takes to sink in. For me, it was seventy eight weeks, four days and eight hours until I realised that it wasn’t working. I was in Morrisons, holding a four-pinter of milk when I said it. Aloud. For everyone to hear.

‘I’m so unhappy with my wife.’

Of course for Rachel, it was about eight days. We got back from our honeymoon, a week on the French Riviera. Sun, sea, sex… It was fantastic. Then we got back to Croydon and our two person flat and… Well, everything fell flat. Including Rachel and my best friend. Eight days from spending hours never leaving our bed except for food and the occasional shower, to her and Eddie bonking like rabbits while I went to work.

I work for a marketing company. We literally drive up hype for things that are completely losing momentum. What’s this, a drink that turned out to be mostly chemical? We’ll have people buying it again in weeks. A brand new start-up? We’ll have your name on everybody’s lips within days. Barton’s has made futures, built lives from nothing, we even saved a career! I’m not allowed to say who it was, but their name rhymes with Ronnie Flepp. Even with all of that experience, I couldn’t save my marriage.

Rachel actually came out and told me. Three days after my milk aisle epiphany, she lost it at breakfast. Screamed at me that Eddie was better in bed than I will ever be. That I was worthless. That I would never be any good. And basically, that Eddie was four times the man I would ever be.

I told her that the door was behind her. Very calmly actually. I’m talking book Dumbledore in the Goblet of Fire, not movie Dumbledore here.We all know how that panned out.

Anyway, I think I’ve got myself a little off topic.

Sarah. I take thee to be my lawful wedded wife.

Christ, I really can’t write my own vows.

The Idiot in Tin Foil