"I Promise" 3
The sun was setting as the van pulled up to the theater. Orange light spread like fingers across the quiet town. The tiny theater had been the location of every spring play the college had held since the beginning of its drama department. It was simple, unable to be expanded, and constantly under the threat of being bought out by a neighboring landowner, one of the old families that had lived in the town for ten generations, since the Civil War tore the town apart. The theater was built around the same time, and had been upheld through the years. It was here that the plays of the college found their home.
It was also in this town that Francis was going to propose.
He had been planning it out, again, ever since he had actually gained possession of the engagement ring, about a month ago. His memory of the town and its charm inspired him to try to propose here. He named his eager adventure “Plan B,” this being his second attempt to propose.
He would first take Angela for a walk, along the town, stopping at the different stores, saying hello to locals, remembering old times. They would reach a certain bench, one which Francis could not forget, with a fountain in front, and a brick path leading to a church. Here he would propose, while she sat on the bench. It was perfect, flawless, highly romantic, and charming in every corner. All that remained was to convince the director of the play to allow Francis and Angela to go for an evening walk.
Francis explained his situation to the director, who, after much begging and promising, agreed to allow the couple to stray from the theater for thirty minutes, plenty of time for Francis to woo and propose.
They started off from the theater, walking down a path towards a small bed and breakfast. They discussed their parts in the play, went over lines, recalled previous roles and plays, many in which they acted together. Francis’s smiles were frequent, and he felt the ring in his pocket. He embraced her every so often, whispering that she was beautiful, that daylight itself shuddered in comparison to her on her worst days. It was about this point that they neared the bench, the site of the proposal. Everything was going as planed.
Unfortunately for Francis, the world was not aware of his plans, and the weather contended his mission. For since the vans pulled up into the driveway of the theater, intruders blocked the sunset: storm clouds which now loomed overhead. They were full from the heat of the valleys, of the lakes and streams, and now were prepared to deluge upon the small town.
Francis, oblivious to the atmospheric changes in store, set Angela on the bench. He took her hand into his as he stood in front of her.
“Angela, I’ve been wanting to do this for some time now. When I first saw you, that first day of school, I felt something. I didn’t know if it was a mere childish infatuation, or if it was sincere emotions. I ignored them for a while, then finally gave in. I’m glad I don’t stand a chance against myself, or else we wouldn’t be here right now.”
The first drop fell and splashed onto Francis’s hair. His mind registered it as water, as a raindrop, the harbinger that disaster was coming. He began to speak faster.
“I wanted to say this before, but circumstances, um, prohibited it from happening. Now I have my chance, my moment, to ask you this one question.”
He lowered his body, his left knee bending and pressing into the brick sidewalk. He reached into his pocket for the ring, safely encased in its velvet box. He began to withdraw it, noting the look of joy on his love’s face.
Then the rain began to pour.
It happened suddenly, like a flash rainstorm. Genuflecting in the midst of a downpour, Francis pulled the box out of his pocket, and opened it, exposing the gorgeous jewel to the amazed eyes of Angela. She swooped off of the bench into his open arms in one swift movement. They clung tight to each other. She pressed her lips against his kissing him hard.
“Will you marry me?” He finally was able to say it. All those years, all the waiting, the hoping, the praying, and the courting finally paid off.
“Yes, Yes. YES! I will. I will”
They embraced again as the water drenched them, causing them to shake with cold. They stood and ran back to the theater, laughing the entire way.
The days passed soon, quickly fading into memories, then being pushed away by more events. The happy couple grew closer than before, much to the marvel of their friends. Families were excited and plans were made. The date for the celebration of a new family, bridging two from different places, was to be held the month after their senior graduation. All rejoiced in the sight of love, of the happiness of the two together. They were not like other couples, always trying to slip away to be alone, but were active, retaining their bonds with the rest of the world. Even their schoolwork seemed to have improved, as several professors testified. A thesis was written, followed by another two days later. Only occasionally were they alone together, and then only in the open, outside on a bench, together in the Commons, or just walking together in the woods, often within a stone’s throw of one of their friends. They worked smoothly together, aiding in every aspect of their lives.
But some changed their ways; some who were rejoicing before now glared from behind the crowd. Plans began to form in the minds of men, or women for that matter, on how to destroy that which drove them mad. Envy had spread like a plague in their hearts; Satan had found a place for the night. And so the downfall of the relationship was concocted, a poison designed to elevate the bad and defecate on the good.
Therefore, the plot fermented, and the conspirators waited until the right moment, waiting to spill the lovers onto the ground in shame.
Meanwhile the couple’s courtship blossomed. They attended Mass together, one day even dedicating their relationship to Mary, Mother of God. They frequented the glade near the girls’ dorms. Often they talked, joking with each other. Sometimes they just sat together, feeling the love from the other.
The piano seemed new, but it could never be. The bench was empty, a rare occasion. The atmosphere was calm, even mellow. A strange quiet prevailed; even the sounds of crickets or the plumbing was absent. There was not a soul present.
Suddenly the sound of footsteps running up the stairs reverberated inside. A cheery young man turned the corner and skidded to a stop. He quickly sat down behind the massive instrument and waited. The sound of another set of feet clomping up the stairwell soon could be heard as a woman’s voice echoed off the walls.
“Francis? Come out, come out, wherever you are.”
Angela turned the corner, her shoes clicking on the floor as she passed from hard wood to carpet. When he heard the sound, Francis froze, still behind the sheets of music. As she came closer, she noticed the shirt bent over the keys.
He looked up quickly with a smile. She walked over and stood behind him. He started to speak but she covered his mouth.
“Shh. Play. Don’t say anything. Play our song.”
“You mean the one I was playing when we met.”
“Yeah. That one. I never heard all of it.”
“Yes you have. I’ve played it all the way through.”
He began to play. The familiar sounds of the piano once again filled the room. Francis’s entire body moved with the piano notes, holding some notes out, others shorter than the sound of a keyboard typing. A smile broke his face and he looked up at her. She looked down and winked. When the song finished, she let out a sigh.
“It’s such a good song. It feels happy, yet really sad.”
“That’s why I love it.”
“And it’s our song.”
“You know it.”
The dark seeded plan had grown deep into the ground. It was nearing the surface, ready to break forth, spreading poison into the heart. The wheel turned and the word was spread. It was the nastiest rumor created, one that would destroy forever the hope of a man, and the life of a woman. Hate and Envy, the two deadliest chemicals, mixed together to form a potion so powerful, that none who drank from it could survive unscathed. None involved in this cruel action could survive, if they were alive to begin with.