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A story by Jason

Not Your Typical Love Story

By Jason Ariciu (The son of Janet and James Ariciu)

I do not think I have loved anybody as much as I loved Michelle. She always made me feel happy when I was around her. There was something about her that would make me melt when she smiled. Her blue eyes radiated with all the glory of the heavens and her smooth features seemed more elegant than all the million-dollar sculptures I had surveyed in any museum. But perhaps what captivated me the most were the little things, like when she would casually conceal her mouth when she laughed or the way she would curl her hair around her finger when she was nervous.

Even when I watched her talking with her friend in the diner, I knew that there could be no other for me. She was all I ever wanted and more than I deserved. My hands carefully played with the corners of a small box underneath the tablecloth as I pondered over what I was going to say. I opened it and took out the ring. It felt like such a small object to be carrying such a heavy burden upon its shoulders, but as I rubbed its polished surface a sense of confidence came over me. I realized nothing was going to stop me from asking Michelle to be my wife.

I glanced over at Michelle and her friend, Carmen. They gave me a quick smile and returned to their conversation, most of which I was not involved in. I did not mind; after all, they had not seen one another in nearly five years and it gave me time to think. They seemed to be catching up on every detail of their current lives as well as reminiscing their school days.

Michelle, I have never met anyone in my life that made me feel as happy and as loved as you do. I am at my best when I am with you. I never want that to end. Will you marry me? Perfect! She would have to say yes, wouldn’t she? “Did you hear about that psycho in the news?” Michelle said, while breaking my concentration.

Carmen nodded. “They say that he’s killed five girls in the area.” She shoveled a hefty chunk of biscuits and gravy into her small mouth. I wanted to hear what they had to say about this maniac, so I just listened to them. “One of them was Sarah Hutchinson. You remember her don’t you?” Carmen shook her head. “Pigtails and glasses.” Carmen just stared at her dumbly. Michelle lifted her hair into a quick and messy set of pigtails. “Come on she sat behind you in Mr. Johnson’s math class. She was always really quiet.” “Yeah…she really was sweet. Why would anybody want to hurt her?” Carmen’s head sank down and her fingers gently twirled her straw around in her orange juice.

“I don’t know. I just hope they catch the bastard who did it and show him what twenty thousand volts feels like.” Michelle smirked and looked over at the clock. “Shit, I’m gonna be late.”

“No kidding. You’d better hurry. I don’t think your boss would like you being late on your first day.” Carmen stood up and hugged Michelle. “It was nice seeing you again.”

“You too,” Michelle said on the way out.

“Hey wait! I almost forgot.” Carmen scribbled something on a napkin and handed it to Michelle. “That’s the number you can reach me at while I’m in town.” Michelle took it and was out the door in a flash.

I could not believe she did not even say goodbye to me. Maybe she was not the right person for me. Of course, she was! I am going to ask her to marry me for God’s sake. I did not understand why I was having these second thoughts, but clearly I loved her and I was not going to let one little mishap ruin my plans. She was just stressed out about her new job. It was her first internship and she was just starting to get her feet wet in the big world of marketing. I was proud of her.

After tucking the box in my jacket, I said goodbye to Carmen and told her it was nice meeting her. She also thought it was odd that Michelle left without saying anything to me, but I told her that she had a great deal on her mind and she probably just forgot I was there. She seemed to understand, but still I was not convinced.

I walked out onto the street and was greeted with a mess of honking cars and angry pedestrians. “New York,” I muttered. I really wished that I had not gotten out of bed. I always hated the city, but it was the only place I could make a decent living. The chilly October air made my teeth start to chatter as I walked the three blocks to my office.

“Hey Doug, what are you doing here on your day off?” I looked over to see Hal Jordan coming down the stairs. He was wearing a long gray overcoat and a beautiful red scarf.

“Oh not much. I just thought I’d stop by and do some thinking.” I half smiled. He looked me over rather closely and laughed “Trying to figure out what to say to Michelle? Don’t worry it’ll come to you.” “I dunno. I really wish I could just come right out and say it.” I leaned against the railing and ran my hand through my thick chestnut hair. “Yeah well speaking the words is always the hard part. But once you do and you see that flicker of excitement in her eyes, then there is nothing on Earth that will ever make you feel happier. Take a look at Marie and me. Four years and I’ve never been any happier.” He laid his hand on my shoulder and smiled.

“But what if she says no. I…”

“Hey, if she loves you any bit as much as you say you love her, then she will not say no.” I looked out the window, trying to see if I could find the answers to love and life. I knew Hal was right, but I was scared to admit it. He patted his hand on my shoulder and I gazed back at his glowing face. “Just have confidence and you’ll do fine. As for me, I’m off to lunch.” He shook his head and walked out the door.

I had taken everything Hal had said earlier that day to heart and I knew that I had to ask her as soon as she got off work. I took a cab over to Michelle’s apartment after getting a dozen red roses from the shop right across the street from my office. Her door was decorated with witches and goblins for Halloween. She always went all out when it came to decorations, so I leaned down to admire one of the pumpkins she carved. It looked magnificent. It had keen cat’s eyes cut along the upper half and its mouth had large teeth that devoured the twinkling light within.

My confidence was returning and I reached up to knock on the door, but a sudden noise from inside caused me to freeze. I peered through the window to find Michelle and another man rolling along the floor completely naked. Anger took over and I threw the roses against the wall of the apartment. I managed to catch myself before my foot connected with the door. She played me for a sap. I could not believe that bitch. I turned around and walked down the street, trying to control my fury. I’ll show you.

The door crept open and Michelle peered around its edge. “Yes, can I help you?” “Damn right, you can help me. Just who was that guy?” My eyes shot fire at her with hatred not even Satan could match. “What? Who are you?” My hands came at her throat. I could no longer control my rage and I forced my grip to grow tighter around her slender neck as I moved her backward into the apartment. She tried to scream and claw at me, but it was no use. She was going to pay. I felt her windpipe crack beneath my thumbs and seconds later her body fell limp.

“You almost had me fooled, but you were just like the others.” I threw her down on the couch and glowered at her broken form. A newspaper sat on her coffee table and I picked it up with a menacing chuckle. The headline on the front page read: Another Victim of the Strangler. The article was by Douglas Griffin. I laid down the paper and saw a napkin on the far edge of the table. “Hmm, Carmen…she seemed nice.” I stuffed the napkin into my jacket and closed the door behind me.

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