“I think you look adorable,” Margaret lied. She had bought Jason, now her fiancé’, a tool belt for Christmas. She watched him try it on. She knew it looked stupid as hell and it hardly fit, but she didn’t know what to get him this year. This came on the heels of Jason buying a diamond ring for their engagement to add insult to injury.
“It’s great, honey.” Jason said.
Margaret knew he was full of shit. His words and tone did not match his eyes. His eyes were grim with disappointment from the night before. She had turned him down for sex, again. Jason had not factored bedroom rejection into his proposal.
Jason grunted, “Maybe I’ll get the hang of it by the time we move into our new house. I really do like it, Margaret.”
“Like it?” Margaret pouted her lips.
“I love it, Margaret.”
Margaret started to get up, “I’ll get the receipt. I knew this was a dumb idea. You got me this gorgeous ring and I got you tools? I’m going to be a terrible fiancé.”
Jason held up his hand, “Please don’t. It’s early. I’m tired. It’s not easy to show my appreciation when I’m tired, but,” he lowered his pajama pants, “there are other ways to show you my appreciation.”
Margaret was eye to eye with Jason’s erect penis. She briefly considered giving in to Jason’s offer. It was an easy out. A blowjob might put this gift giving fiasco to rest, and there was a time when she would have loved to jump his bones without question. Those times were long gone.
She tried to let him down easy, “Does that thing cook breakfast? If not, I think I can find a few tools in that belt that are far more useful.”
Jason’s mood shifted from playful to hurt in seconds. He pulled up his pants and threw down the tool belt, causing the wrenches and screwdrivers to hit the ground. They bounced against each other like small children on trampolines.
“Jesus, Margaret, It was just a joke,” he said, stomping out of the room.
Margaret inhaled a deep breath. She walked over to their living room window. She watched rain fall outside in spite of the meteorologist’s call for snow. In a way, she blamed his forecast for Jason’s bad mood.
Margaret overheard Jason repeat the story several times to his family members after she told him yes. He had pushed his proposal up a week from New Year’s Eve in anticipation of a White Christmas. Fucking weatherman.
Jason returned to the living room. “I’m sorry, Margaret. I care so much about you, but I feel like I don’t know how to act around you anymore. We used to be on fire.”
Margaret didn’t bother to glance at him, “Seems like we still are.”
He took a deep breath, “You know what I meant.”
“No, Jason, I don’t.” She moved back to the couch. “We haven’t been intimate in months. I’ve told you over and over again that I wish I didn’t feel this way, but the fact of the matter is that I do. It sucks, but pressuring me into sleeping with you isn’t going to fix it. I hate it for you, but I can’t help how I feel.”
“That isn’t what our relationship is about,” Jason said as he fought back tears, “I love you, Margaret. I just thought—”
“You thought what? You thought that a ring on my finger is what I needed right now to put our past behind me?”
“Never mind.” Jason got on his knees. He picked up the pile of tools. “I’m sorry.”
Margaret followed him to the ground. She softened her voice, “I do love you, Jason.” She placed a hand on his cheek, catching a tear on the way. “I’m not saying any of this to hurt you. I just think if we are meant to be together for the rest of our days, we need to put the work in. We need to figure out why we love each other before we get married.”
Jason placed his hand on hers, “I really think we can do it. I really do. I just don’t know the direction to take.”
Margaret pulled back her arm, “I know a way.” She held out her hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m Margaret. What’s your name?”
Jason smiled. He wiped his eyes, “Jason. Would you like to get some coffee sometime?”
Thomas William Shaw is an author and stage actor from Birmingham, AL. He lives with his wife, Lauren, their children, and their cats in a quiet place. Occasionally he will post about it.