chain


(C)Copyright 1996 by Ronald Rand

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chain
IV

"Happy Birthday," he told her. He kissed her on the cheek and put a Mickey Mouse party hat on her head.

"I know it's a little immature," he said.

"Oh, Richard," she said. "You shouldn't have, it's beautiful!"

The cake he bought was extravagent for a 20th birthday, but she was worth it. It had two layers. The bottom was black cherry with cherry frosting, and the top was chocolate, with cherry frosting. The cake was decorated beautifully and there was even a little kitten on the top in a yarn basket, sleeping. Samantha loved cats. Richard hadn't seen Samantha smile like that in the longest time.

"Oh, Richard, it's so cute," Samantha said. "It's beautiful, thank you." She grabbed him around the waist and laid a kiss on him so deeply that they fell back into the easy chair together.

"Hold it," he said, standing up, "not now. You have to make a wish and blow out the candles." Before he could finish his sentence, she was at the table. She closed her eyes for three seconds, and blew out the twenty candles with one breath.

"Does that mean that I'll get my wish?" she asked.

"I don't know," Richard said. "You'll just have to wait and see."

They ate their cake, and then Samantha looked around for her birthday present.

"Okay, I give up," she said. "Where is it?"

"Where is what?" he replied, as though he didn't know what she were referring to.

"You know, silly," she said. "My present."

"Oh, I see how spoiled you are," Richard said, jokingly. "Okay, close your eyes."

She obeyed.

He took her left hand and slipped an engagement ring onto her finger.

"Open your eyes," he said.

Samantha was startled. She opened her eyes, and looked at her finger, and her jaw dropped. Then she looked up at Richard, awaiting an explanation.

"Are you serious?" she asked him.

She was still startled. She looked down at her ring and then back up at Richard.

"Samantha, will you marry me?" he asked her.

"Yes, I'll marry you," she responded.

She grabbed him and kissed him like she'd never kissed anyone before.

"Oh, Richard," she said, "this is the happiest day of my life."

At that moment, her mother and brother arrived at Richard's house. When they heard the news, her mother cried with joy and hugged them both. Then she insisted on taking a picture to remember the moment by.

The picture came out great and Samantha had never looked happier.

Oh, Samantha, Richard thought. Please don't leave me, honey! We still have to be married.

The ride to Samantha's house had never seemed so long, even when they first started dating. He remembered on those drives wanting nothing more than to just close his eyes and appear there next to his new sweetheart. He felt in love with her practically the first moment he saw her, checking out books at the library near his house. She was staying with her auntie who lived nearby, and she needed something to do to pass the time. Somehow, he got up the courage to ask her out for a burger, and much to his surprise, she accepted. From that moment on, they were inseperable. Once, Richard asked her what had made her accept his invitation, since she was usually so wary of strangers. She confessed that there was something familiar about him. His smile, or his kind eyes, perhaps. She wasn't sure what. He teased that maybe they'd met in a past life. Yet, somehow, he too had felt an odd, yet unexplainable bond between them, from that first moment together. They had long since chalked it up to fate—they were made for each other, plain and true.

Richard knew there would never be anyone for him but Samantha from the very start. (That was five years ago.) Now, he wanted nothing more than to close his eyes and appear in bed next to Samantha, waking up from a long nightmare.

Samantha had told him about her life with her family. Her father, now dead, was heavily into drugs. Her mother took them up, too, to escape from reality, and to escape from her husband. Samantha's father was a man who was very kind and very gentle on the inside, but Samantha knew that because of his addiction, he would never be there for his family.

The night he died, he had come home in a rage. He picked up Samantha's younger brother's baby chair, and threw it through the front window. Samantha's mother Rita huddled the two children in a corner in the kitchen. Samantha could still remember smelling the fetid alcohol on her mother's breath. Her father stormed up the stairs, and she could hear things breaking and being smashed into the walls. To her, it felt like the world was coming to an end. Then, there was silence. After about an hour of huddling together, Rita went up to check on him. She found him lying in the bathtub with blood streaming out of his nose. According to later autopsy reports, his heart had burst. He had snorted his last.

 
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