I Do/No, I Don’t

Day 23 In or Out

June 23, 2016. Britain votes today whether to stay in the European Union or get out of it.  The choice is simple: In or Out. But the ramifications of a vote to leave are complex and uncertain.

Have you ever had to choose In or Out? Maybe it was a job that you didn’t like. Or a business deal. Maybe you were in a relationship where you had to choose In or Out.

Write about making a simple but difficult choice.

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Rae and Matt had been dating for a little over two years.  They’d had a pretty serene relationship, for the most part.  They’d started college together, although he was a year older because he’d worked for a year after high school.

He though she was adorable.  She thought he was the best guy she’d ever known. They had fun together, laughed, dreamed, and sometimes even cried over sad movies.  How cool was that–a guy who would cry with her over a sad movie!

They talked about marriage.  He even gave a a pearl ring, which was symbolic of “She’s my girl. Leave her alone.”  Rae was very proud of her ring.  She was proud of Matt.

She wanted to be an actress.  He wanted to be a farmer. They had many long discussions over how they could make it work.  Those discussions usually ended with Matt saying, “Look, Rae, there’s no guarantee you’ll make it as an actress. Why don’t you just put it out of your mind?  You’ll love it on the farm.  You can do dramatic readings for the cows and the chickens.”  And he would laugh, thinking he’d said the funniest thing ever.

Rae began to rethink their relationship.  It was clear to her that Matt didn’t take her dream seriously.  But she loved him, and he loved her.

The next time they talked about it, he said, “Rae.  I want to swap your pearl ring for a diamond.  I can’t afford a big rock right now, but I want us to be engaged. Then we can make plans to move to my dad’s farm, and my mom can teach you how to be a farm wife.  You’ll be so busy, you’ll never think of acting again.”  And he smiled at her with great assurance, acting as if he’d just solved all their problems.

Rae couldn’t think.  She couldn’t breathe.  The lump in her throat refused to dissolve.  She shook her head, turned away. When he reached for her shoulder, she held up her hand palm out, and shook her head NO.

She walked away, her heart shredding in her chest. She didn’t sleep much that night. Matt tried to call, but she wouldn’t answer the phone. She needed to clear her head, and when he talked to her, he took over her brain. All her common sense went leaking out of her ears.

Could she be married to a guy who had no interest in her dreams?  Could she be a farm wife and learn to milk  cows, feed chickens, and gather eggs every day?

Did she WANT to do that?  Plant a garden, preserve the produce, make jam and jelly and pie and cake and fry mountains of potatoes and ham to feed the farm hands breakfast every day?

Matt’s mom loved her life.  She woke up every morning ready to stir up biscuits and heat up the skillets. She did it with joy and energy.

Rae couldn’t see herself in farmer jeans and flannel shirts and work boots. She couldn’t see herself as a participating-in-the-chores farm wife, raising a brood of her own little farmhands while Matt rode a tractor, or a reaper, or a baler, or whatever all those machines were called.

She did love him.  She was beginning to realize, though, that she didn’t love what he loved. He didn’t love what she loved.

They met in the square in the center of campus the next morning before their first class. He was angry. “Why didn’t you answer your phone?  I needed to talk with you, to help you see. . . .”

“Matt, the answer is no.  I don’t want to be a farm wife.  I would be miserable, and so would you. You don’t love what I love.  I don’t love what you love.  If I give up my dreams for you, we’ll never be truly happy.  So I’m sorry, but no. You can have your pearl back if you want.”  And she started to pull it off her finger.

“Rae.  Rae.  How can we not be together?  Come on, keep the ring.  We love each other. Don’t you see, we can make the rest of it work?  Don’t you want to marry me?”

“I’m sorry, Matt.  Sorry from the bottom of my heart. But no.  I don’t.”  Tucking her hands in her pockets, she turned and walked away, never looking back.

June 23 Challenge

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