First Page: Wings of the Past

First Page: Wings of the Past

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“Hey, um, Marta,” I said softly, leaning closer. “It’s the oddest thing. Lately, I’ve been having all these wild crazy thoughts about getting married.”

There, I said it. My heart sped up and I felt shaky. I’d finally voiced out loud, albeit shyly and hesitantly, what I’d been thinking about for the past three months. Who would believe that I – Zoey Avery, dedicated work-a-holic extraordinaire – would find herself suddenly afloat, lost in imaginary worlds, daydreaming about tulle and veils and gowns. Why? Hadn’t a clue.

I held my breath, wondering how my best friend Marta Wilkinson would respond to my shocking revelation. Would she scream, laugh, raise her eyebrows in surprise? I just hoped that after her initial reaction, she’d get around to taking it seriously, because I meant it. Never before had I mentioned ‘marriage and thinking about it’ in the same sentence. I’d never aspired to achieve such a union.

“What’d you say?” she yelled. “I can’t hear you over the music.”

Damn.

Karaoke was in full swing at O’Toole’s Irish Pub in downtown Burlington and a trio of businessmen slugging back beer, jackets off, ties askew, were singing and gyrating to Gangnam Style. They were making total fools of themselves, but such was the fun of amateurs on Karaoke night – a time to let loose.

“I want to get married,” I yelled, just as the song ended and there was total silence. My words rang out, hovered, and I swear every person in the bar turned to look at me. It was one of those ‘time stood still’ kinda moments, only not in a good way.

Guess this really wasn’t the proper venue to spill my guts, but I’d only recently gotten up the courage to confess and tonight was the night. It’d been bugging me so much, for so long, that I couldn’t hold it in a moment longer. I needed to talk about it. After all, Marta and I shared everything and I’d been holding out on her. I wanted to come clean.

“I’ll marry you, little lady.”

Embarrassed, I looked over to see a jean-jacketed man straddling a stool, leering at me.

Oh no! I could feel my face redden.

He jumped off and swaggered over to our table, slowly and dramatically, as everyone in the room began clapping and cheering him on.

“Howdy, ma’am,” he said, tipping his cowboy hat, disturbing a cloud of dust that flew up into the air and rained down on my head. “Don’t think I’ve had the pleasure of meeting you.”

Feverishly flicking off the dirt, I watched in horror as he slid a cigar out of his shirt pocket, pulled the band off and got down on one knee. Holding up the paper ring, he placed his other hand against his heart, exclaiming, “My sweet little cupcake, will you marry me?”

Cupcake? I wanted to puke. Go figure! My very first proposal came from someone I didn’t know, in a crowded bar, surrounded by strangers staring wide-eyed at the two of us.

Frantic, I looked around for some help but Marta, ignoring my dirty look, was laughing so hard, tears streamed down her face as the crowd started chanting, “Say yes, say yes.”

Oh hell, I knew it was in fun and in another place or time I might have found it hilarious, but not tonight. I was in serious mode.

“No, thank you,” I said firmly, shrinking down on my chair, wishing I could disappear.

A groan echoed throughout the room. Someone led a chorus of boos, another hissed.