Fiction: Paperwork (1250 words)

10 Mar

She had always kind of imagined that there would be something grand and bold for the time that she was proposed to.  Something magical, usually involving fireworks and/or roses.  And even though she spent many a waking hour, and even more an unconscious hour thinking about it, she wanted more than anything to be surprised by her proposal.

And she was certainly surprised.  It wasn’t anything like she had imagined.  But that didn’t mean that it wasn’t absolutely magical in its own right.

At the time of the proposal, Wendy had pretty much given up on the idea of actually getting married. She was twenty-six years old, dating and living with a man who was seven years her senior, who she loved madly, but had frequently made his views on marriage very clear.  His theory was why add paper work into the eventual and inevitable demise of their relationship?

While that sounded rather cynical, Wendy knew that Joe wasn’t nearly as grumpy as he pretended to be. She jokingly called him the “damaged romantic,” a man who wanted to believe in all the romantic notions of the world, but had seen too much bad to be able to truly believe.  He would just grumble in reply, which Wendy took as a positive response and rolled with it.

Besides, did she really need to be married?  They had been dating for almost three years, and living together for at least half of that.  They had no intention of having kids, so there was that, and they had no qualms about sharing financial information with each other.  So, what would a big expensive part and some paper work really change?

Well, it would make Wendy’s grandparents happier—but would really piss off Joe.  So, it wasn’t worth pursuing. No, Wendy was happy with the way things were.

Until a small comment threw everything out of whack.  Joe was cooking dinner, and Wendy was keeping him company at the kitchen table.  Joe did something stupid, to which he groaned and said almost off handedly, “I’m an asshole and I wish I were dead.”

Almost instantly, Wendy tensed up, to the point that it was almost tangible that the emotion in the room had changed.  “Don’t. Don’t say that. Please.”

He turned to look at her, concern clearly written all over his face.  “You okay?”

“I’ll be fine as long as you will promise me that you won’t say it again.”  Wendy was approaching a level of seriousness that Joe almost never saw in their three years of dating and five years of knowing each other.

“It’s just a joke,” he weakly tried to defend himself, but he already knew that it wasn’t going to carry a lot of weight.

“It’s not a good one.  I live in fear the day that’s not a joke anymore and I can’t do anything to stop it.  Please, promise me that you won’t joke about it anymore.”  Wendy was not backing down.

So Joe stopped cooking for a second, took both of Wendy’s hands in his, and said, with all due sincerity, “I promise, I won’t joke about that anymore.”

Wendy nodded in appreciation, and then went off to be alone for a little bit.  When she came back to eat dinner, the mood had returned mostly to normal.  The incident seemed to be forgiven and forgotten.  But Joe was still thinking about it.

It wasn’t until several weeks later, as they were lying in bed, settling down for the night, that it was mentioned again.

“So, Wendy,” Joe started out of seemingly nowhere, “I’ve been thinking.”

“Dangerous words, coming from you.”  Wendy teased.

“Yes, well, I was think about what you said the other day.” Joe continued.

“You’re going to have to be a little bit more specific. I’ve said a whole lot of things, and I only actually listen to myself about half the time that I talk, so—“

“You know, that actually explains a lot, but if you’ll just be quiet for a moment, I’ll tell you.  I was thinking about the other day in the kitchen. When you said that you lived in fear of the day when it wasn’t a joke and you couldn’t do anything about it.”

Wendy laid very still and very quietly for so long that Joe was afraid that he’d made her angry by bringing it up again, and that he’d stunned her into complete silence.  But then she let out a very small, “oh.”

“Yes. And I was thinking, what if we gave you some power to do something about it?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, I don’t think I’ll ever actually be a hazard to my health in the way that you’re thinking, but if I were, what if you had the power to force me to get help.  I don’t know if it will actually be any use, but might it help to ease your fears if you think you have a little more power over getting me help?”

“Okay, Joe, you’re just confusing me more.  So, please, explain what you’re thinking.”

“I was doing the research, and as a friend, you can have me committed for my safety, but there are hoops to jump through, and it’s harder to prove that you have evidence of genuine concern, even though we’re living together.  But as a wife, you’d have certain rights over my health and safety—“

“Whoa. Slow down.  Did you just suggest what I think you just suggested?”

“I don’t know.  What do you think I just suggested?”

“I think you just suggest that we get married.  Are you suggesting that we get married?”

“I think if it will help to ease a fear that you clearly feel very strongly about, then yes, we should get married.  I mean, it will be more paper work, but I think you’re worth that.”

It was probably one of the most unromantic sentences in the world, but it made Wendy clutch at her chest and sigh.  “You think I’m worth the paper work”  She tried not to think about how weird it was that she did find that incredibly romantic.

“I do.  I think easing your fears is worth the paper work.” Joe replied.

Wendy leaned over and kissed him fiercely.  “I love you.”

“I love you, too.”  Joe responded, an almost goofy grin on his face. “We’re getting married,” he whispered.

“Yeah.  You know I’m going to want to have a party, right?”  Joe groaned, but Wendy continued.  “Something we can invite my parents to.  And you know that Patrick will never believe that we’re getting married unless we make a bit of a deal about it.”

“You have a point. I don’t think that Patrick will believe it even if we invite him to watch us fill out the paper work as well.  I’m not going to hear the end of this from him, am I?”

“No, probably not.  Patrick has quite a tendency to latch onto things, doesn’t he?” Wendy laughed, “But don’t worry, grumpy pants, we’ll make sure to keep it relatively cheap, okay?”

Joe rolled over and gave Wendy a rather intense kiss. “I love you so much.”

“I know. I’m worth filling out the paper work.” Wendy smiled.

And that was what Wendy later referred to as the most magical night of her life. After all, Joe was getting married, and that was a bit of a miracle in itself.  And she absolutely loved having a part in that.

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Posted by on March 10, 2015 in Stories


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