Waxed Table

As soon as I got home from work I called Eva to apologise for what had happened that afternoon. I had no idea what had come over me, I wasn’t usually such an emotional person. That was Peter’s job, what a sissy he was. She said it was alright and invited me to go with her to Shaz, a tattoo parlour later in the evening around seven I think. I hated tattoos but she was determined. I hung up the phone and looked around my apartment. It’s white walls contrasted with the black pleather sofa located in the centre of the living room. Beside it sat a lazy boy also in black pleather, Peter’s favourite spot in the apartment other than the bed of course. He would sit there for hours on the weekends watching mindless shows. I would sit there too, curled up on his lap. I never cared much for the shows he watched but I was there anyway, just to be with him. I hated it.

A 30” television was propped in front of the seating area with a brown coffee table separating the two. We found that coffee table at a yard sale and paid twenty dollars for it. Our fist purchase together, as a couple. It was chipped, battered and the left leg was falling off but it survived the trip home in Peter’s white Mazda 323. I felt like that broken leg to the otherwise useful table and like the table Peter and I would make it.

I decided to take a well deserved shower. The humidity outside combined with the heat inside my non-air conditioned apartment was too much for me. I cut, my shower down to six minutes, this alone time under the water gave me too much time to think about issues I would rather not. I decided I would have to keep myself busy until I net up with Eva that evening. The apartment was in a desperate need of a cleaning, a layer of dust covered the coffee table and television. I hated cleaning. I went into the kitchen cabinet under the sink and took out the cleaning supplies. I chose to turn on the radio to drown out my thoughts and I began. The living room, the kitchen, the bedroom, the bathroom and the living room again. The good thing about living in an apartment is that cleaning is reduced down to about an hour in length, however today that was proving to be a disadvantage. I sat down in the lazy boy and realised I it was only six o’clock. One whole hour left and noting on the television. I disliked movies and I was tired of my iPod.

As I sat there I heard the lock in the front door click, and then click again. Peter was home. As soon as he caught sight of me on the lazy boy he smiled. His clean shaven head glistened in the light that poured through the west facing window. His chocolate brown eyes lit up as I got up to greet him. He always had this boyish cuteness to him that I could never find in anyone else and I adored that, in fact I loved that. He put down his laptop bag and closed the door. I wrapped my arms around his neck and his around my waist. He kissed my lightly on my lips twice and we both smiled.

“You forgot to lock the door again.” He said. Not a “I missed you” or a “How was your day” even a “honey, I’m home” would have been better. Why did he always have to nag me bout the stupidest things. When he leaves the toilet seat up, or falls asleep with the TV on I never say a word. He acts like he’s my mother.

“So did you.” I said playfully trying to cover the annoyance in my voice. He pulled away and held both of my hands.

“Do you have any plans for this evening?” he asked.

“Yeah, I’m going out with Eva tonight. Why?” He let go of my hands and looked me in my eyes, suddenly I remembered. He was leaving the following morning for a trip with his business team. I wouldn’t see him for a week. I brought my hand up to cup his cheek. “I’m sorry hun, I’ll cancel if you want.” I desperately hoped he didn’t. He smiled again.

“No, it’s okay. Go out and have fun with your friend. There was just something I wanted to do before I left.”

“What?” I asked. He continued to look at me as he pondered his next words. “Tell me.” He sighed.

“Well- he hesitated. I was hoping this could be a bit more romantic but I guess it guess it doesn’t really matter now.” He walked over to his bag and took out a crumpled Tim Hortons bag. I thought he had lost his mind when he turned around and handed it to me. I looked at him oddly.

“Are you serious?” I asked. He continued to smile.

“Don’t throw it out, just open it. You like blue berry right?” I started to open the brown paper bag.

“All of this for a muffin?” Had he lost his mind? Maybe he found out about how I felt and this was his weird way of breaking up with me. Peter’s a very competitive person and would be damned if I broke up with him before he could. Perhaps the muffin was his parting gift.

When I open up the old bag I gasped and crumpled it back up. I stared at him in shock as his smile finally faded.

“What? What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Nothing, I just… Why?” I was flabbergasted. Why would he do this, now of all times. I know that he had no idea why I had asked “why”, but I could not think of anything else to say, my mouth dry. He hesitated again and asked me if I had looked in the bag properly. I nodded my head and even told him what was in it. He licked his lips nervously and then smiled again. That damn smug smile.

“This is why I wanted to do this now. I knew how you felt about commitment and I wanted to give you sometime to think about it. So you have all week while I’m gone to give me an answer. Unless of course you know for sure now.” I looked down at the bag and its contents clenched in my hands. I couldn’t meet his eyes. “Beth?” he asked concerned. He was always so sweet. How could I tell him how I felt? I loved him and these questioning feelings were just a test of that. We would spend the rest of our lives together, with our children, maybe a pet or two and we’d be happy and in love. Even if God forbid, this was the end of my love for him, he still cared about me. I could never hurt him like that; he’s been too good to me. The life we had spent years building would be destroyed in a matter of seconds and I don’t think I could deal with that for the rest of my life. At the same time, how could I live with someone I no longer saw as “the one”? Would it not be selfish for him to pour his heart and soul into our relationship and for me, to only pretend I cared? He was like a carpenter trying to fix the broken table and I was once again the broken leg. No matter how much time and energy he put into making the table look sturdy and presentable, the table would always wobble and could fall at any moment. He would just be better off getting a new leg, but he never would.

My eyes were beginning to fill with tears now; I didn’t know why I was crying. This should be so simple for me to do, but I couldn’t. Peter wrapped his arms around me and whispered into my ear.

“Beth, I’m sorry if you feel like I’m rushing you. If you want I’ll just wait. We’ll pretend like this never happened.” He tried to sound supportive but I could tell he was in pain and hurt by my reaction. I pulled away from him and took a deep breath.

“No, you don’t have to do that. We can go on with what you had in mind.” I told him.

“Are you sure? You’ll think about it?” I nodded and his smile returned. I gave him the Tim Hortons bag and he took out the small black box and got down on one knee. Seeing him there on the ground I was overcome with emotions. On one hand I was happy. I had dreamed of this moment for a good portion of my life and now it was finally happening. In his brightened eyes I could see the same vision I once had of the two of us, I would finally be walking down the aisle toward him with my father by my side. In my eyes Peter was no longer the man I wanted to see at the end of aisle. It was at that moment that I finally realised that I was no longer in love with Peter Lemming.

“I guess there’s no point in asking you this right now, but I will any way.” He said cheerfully. “Bethney Lynn Dalton, will you marry me?” I desperately wanted to say “yes” but I knew better. “Do you want the ring on?” I nodded quickly. I realised I was breathing heavily as he slid the silver ring with a sapphire stone planted in the centre onto the third finger of my left hand. I was a horrible person, stealing this moment away from him. There would never be a first one again but I couldn’t help it. The ring just felt so right on my finger even though the moment was so wrong.

Peter stood up and kissed me again. I kissed him back this time. HE pulled away and caught my eyes. The first time I looked at him since finding the ring in the paper bag.

“I love you Beth.” He said with the same childish smile. “I really do, and I want you to know that whatever your choice is a week from now, I will still care for you the same way I always have. Nothing will ever change that. You are my everything.” He kissed my forehead.

“I love you too, Pete.” I choked out. He let go of me, still smiling.

“I was going to go take my shower but if you want to go first you can go ahead and I could just start packing or something.”

“No it’s okay, I already took my shower go ahead.” He turned and walked into the bedroom to get a change of clothes. I went over to sit on the sofa. I starred at my newest piece of jewellery in awe and sadness thinking of Peter’s smile. What was I going to do?

I leaned my head back on the sofa and put my feet up on the wobbly coffee table.

The End

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