I’m sitting on the edge of my bed, swinging my dangling feet, letting them hit my box spring and bounce back forward. Back, and then bounce. Back, and then bounce.
“So, Ben’s getting married, eh?” Alex reveals to me on the phone.
The bouncing stops; I immediately start laughing. Hard. There’s no way he’s possibly getting married; we’re twenty-one years old. “No fucking way.”
“No, I actually swear. Chris told me. He got invited to the engagement party already.”
“He’s making a huge mistake, obviously.” I say so matter-of-factly that I wonder if I sound possessive. Or bitter. “When did he meet this girl? He just broke up with Jess, didn’t he?” I continue.
“Yeah, it’s bizarre. Like they literally met like six or seven months ago. And apparently he’s moved into her family’s house, and just bought a car and-”
“Did he end up doing the cop thing?”
“No, Chris said he doesn’t even have a job right now. And,” she emphasizes her voice for a big delivery, “apparently he bought a brand new Camaro and is on some seven year plan to pay it off or something?”
I start laughing again, what an idiot. “By the time he pays off the car he’s gonna need a new one.” I’m shaking my head even though I recognize that no one can see me.
Ben Chambers is getting married.
I let that statement sink in and I’m not exactly sure how I feel. I realize for the first time that my heart’s been beating fast. “I actually can’t even deal with this right now,” I say.
“Right? It’s crazy.”
“Who’s the girl?” Of course I have to ask.
“I don’t know. He knew her brother when him and Tyler went through their car phase and were all into fixing them. The guy brought his sister one day, and that’s how they met. Apparently she works at the bank though, and the family’s super rich.”
“Is she pretty? What does she look like?” Of course I have to ask.
“I don’t even know. I only know her first name, so I can’t even creep her. Chris said she’s Trinidadian though.”
I kind of laugh. “This is so weird, man.”
“I know. It’s really weird.”
“Really weird, yeah,” I pause and take a deep breath. There are butterflies in my stomach. I can’t exactly understand why I feel so nervous. A nervous that I can feel all through my body. Like I’m tingling. I guffaw, whatever stay calm, and then continue, “yeah. Yeah. It really is. I mean I almost feel like I should talk to him, but I don’t even have his number anymore. Plus he’d never take it well.”
The conversation is silent. I feel the hand that is holding my iPhone getting damp with perspiration.
“Oh, shit,” I say, “I have to get ready for work!” I lie easily. I don’t want to be having this conversation anymore.
“Okay, true. I’ll talk to you later.”
I get up from my bed and walk towards my big white bookshelf. My hand moves passed the Rubik’s cube, and the snow globe my relatives from Trinidad gave me, to find what I’m looking for. I take down the tiny silver jewellery box that’s a replica of a treasure chest, and open it to find one charm. It’s silver and handmade – you can tell by the imperfect oval shape – and on one side there’s an angel engraved, on the other the word in all capitals: love. I turn it around in my fingers continuously, and let him in.
We’re sitting on my bed. I’m cross-legged facing him, and he’s kneeling, resting his butt on the heels of his feet. He looks like an excited little boy even though he’s over six feet and almost two hundred pounds of muscle.
“So I got you something!” He has a huge smile on his face. I now notice he’s got something hidden behind his back.
“What did you do?” I ask him suspiciously. I can’t help but smile seeing him so happy.
“Okay, so I know we’ve only been dating for a couple months, but I wanted to give you something.”
“Okaaay…” I draw it out because I’m hesitant now.
He pulls out a tiny silver jewellery box that’s shaped like a treasure chest. When he opens the box he pulls out the charm. “So my great-grandfather made this charm for my great-grandma, and they were married their whole lives. And then he gave it to my grandpa, who gave it to my grandma – and they were married forever,” and he has the sweetest smile as he’s saying this, but he won’t look up at me. He keeps his head down and turns the charm over in his fingers repeatedly, “and it’s almost like fate I think. Because my grandpa never gave it to my dad. He gave it to me instead. It’s like he knew my parents would get divorced or something.” He finally looks up at me. He’s not smiling anymore. “I want to give it to you.”
I could tell where the story was going, but still, as he delivers that last line I feel my mouth open slightly, and all I can think is, I’m sixteen. I’m sixteen and he just got out of dating two horrible girls. Girls from broken homes, who have been smoking weed since they were thirteen, and who lost their virginity early. Girls who smoke cigarettes as teens and who aren’t going to university or college. I’m the athlete with good grades, who wears a cross everyday, and who has a great family. I’m the first girl – emphasis on girl – his teenaged mind can see a future with, and I wonder whether he’s fallen in love with the idea of me, and not who I actually am. I know all he wants is to grow up and have the stable family he’s never been able to achieve. He sees a bright future in me, and so he sees a bright future in us. He’s infatuated in all that I could possibly represent.
“Are you…Are you sure? I don’t know, this is too soon, don’t you think?”
“I could marry you, Kait.”
I put the charm back in the box and stare down at it for a while. I think of all the things I do that make me look good on paper: high school valedictorian, track and field captain, honours program, part-time job while in school, freelance writer. And then I think about who I am, and although these things are a part of me, they are not me. I think of Ben’s elusive fiancée, I cringe as I let that word register in my mind, and consider the rich family, stable job, and him living with her family already. I wonder how she is as a person, but then realize maybe that doesn’t matter. I close the box.