I attempt to swallow again, my heart and lungs and stomach all doing a conga line inside me. My face is red hot and flushed. Everyone is staring at me, and I can’t stop staring at Alan, who is singing with both so much cheese and sincerity that I just want to melt right down into the floor.
He finishes the song on his knees, down by my feet, and when it’s over and the music turns off and the room comes to a hush, I know he’s not getting back up.
This is happening.
He grabs my hand and I have to fight the urge to pull it away. He stares at me, but I’m not sure if he’s really seeing me at all, if he ever saw me, because my eyes are begging, pleading, for him not to do this.
Don’t make me break your heart. Not here, not now.
Oh, I’ve been such an idiot.
“Amanda Rose Newland,” he says to me into the microphone, so I guess he’s saying it to everyone else too. “When I first met you, you were this strange, strange girl with your glasses and your nose in a book, always reading on the sidelines or spending hours in the library.” There are a few titters in the crowd, everyone clearly picturing that girl. “You had this ability to talk about characters in books and TV shows and movies like they were real, like they were your friends. You could spout random knowledge about trees and animals and countries like your brain housed an encyclopedia. I didn’t know what to do with someone like you, but I was charmed by the beauty beneath your brains.”
Surely he means the brains behind my beauty?
“And all the potential I could see deep inside. The real you. We’ve been together four years and you’ve surprised me day in and day out by turning into this intelligent, poised and proper young woman, the very lady I thought you would become.”
Lady?? Okay, he must be out of his mind tonight because there’s no way he’d ever declare me a lady. Nothing pisses him off more than when I let out a burp, but believe me, I can’t help my acid reflux.
“I believe you’ll make an excellent mother, that we will raise smart and beautiful children, that you’ll be the best wife a dentist could have, by my side and through the thick and thin.”
“Amanda…” He reaches into his pocket.
Our friends sob and gasp.
My stomach contents start moving up my throat.
Alan pulls out a ring with the biggest diamond I’ve ever seen. It catches the light like a disco ball.
“Will you do me the honor of marrying me?”
Everything inside me dies.
My hand flies to my mouth.
It’s not from shock. It’s to keep back the vomit.
“I think she’s going to faint,” I hear someone whisper in the crowd.
“This is so romantic,” someone else says.
“She’s crying,” another person comments.
And I am crying.
My fucking contacts. Now the world is turning into a blur, which you’d think would make things easier since Alan’s eyes are nothing more than blue dots and I don’t have to see any hurt or anguish in them.
But nothing is going to make this easier.
Just say yes. Just say yes and tell him no later. Save him this humiliation. Save yourself the humiliation.
I shake my head, the tears spilling down, bile filling my mouth.
“I’m so sorry,” I whisper.
“Amanda,” he hisses back, and I hear the warning in his tone. Don’t do this.