This story is by Jaslin Sulaiman and was part of our 2017 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“These engagement rings are so overrated. I mean, just scour over marriages; they begin with burdensome investments only to end up in divorces, leaving a hollow scar for your lifetime.” Robby was ransacking his wardrobe, throwing his shirts behind him. His aimless shots reached his best friend, Kavi.
“What’s wrong with you?” Kavi shook his head off, hurling Robby’s shirts on the bed. “Weren’t you so excited over joining Fresca in shopping for engagement rings? Why a sudden change in decision?”
“I shouldn’t have looked. No! I should have looked. Not at her! But at the ring Fresca had finalized.”
“Till last night, you were singing hymns of Fresca Jones, the blue-eyed peach. Remember?” Kavi teased his bud.
“Kavi, she was in rags, in torn and faded Levi’s jeans and her white top mottled with uninvited stains.”
“Wow, I was asking about Fresca, dude. When did she get a wardrobe malfunction? Do her Vogue parents know about it?” Robby sensed Kavi’s forced enthusiasm.
“But you asked about the other girl. I wasn’t talking about Fresca. She left instantly, asking me to purchase the engagement ring and keep it safely.”
“And where’s the ring now?”
Robby stopped his search. “I was there. I paid for the ring but then I got a call from you, remember?” Kavi nodded. “So I went out of the shop for a few minutes but by then, the ring was no longer there nor was the girl.”
“Are you accusing me of being the reason behind your missing ring? What’s more important, the ring or the mysterious girl?” Robby stayed mum. “Dude, are you really thinking? Oh my goodness! I know you well so please tell me you didn’t go after that girl?” Kavi watched for subtle hints from Robby’s face.
“Well, I can’t just stand there and wait foolishly for my ring to come back to me, alright? I followed her.”
“Did she see you?”
“I don’t think she did. In fact, she was racing. However, when she reached the turnabout, she just stopped and began to take her selfie. An impromptu move.”
“Really? And where were you exactly?”
“Sneaking by the corner but she began to run soon after. I paced myself to match her speed and eventually caught her meeting some random guy instead. The next moment, both of them dashed. So did I but little did I know we were headed to Griffith Park.”
Kavi grew appalled. “Let me get this straight. She stole the ring you bought and then ran all the way to Griffith Park with some supposedly random guy?”
“I know, right? It was crazy. I was exhausted from running for one whole afternoon. It seemed as if I’d reached a reunion of some close friends. The guy parted from this girl and now he’s with another girl standing at the beautifully adorned gazebo. That dude was outrightly proposing to another girl. Delirium got the better of me. Before she could run, I held her hand firmly and brought her to a quiet corner, behind a huge tree.”
“So what did she say in her defense?”
“I don’t know. She just…” Robby tried recollecting the exact flow of words she conveyed at the spur of the moment. The huge tree was skirted by pools of autumn gold and rust colored leaves which pirouetted on their own orchestral rustling as the wind blew past her face. Her hair fell before her face and his hand almost reached out to smooth her locks from the leaves that shed away in a gradual pattern from the tree but he withdrew his fist as soon as he saw her tucking her hair behind her ears.
“Ok I took your ring, I admit. But didn’t you see what happened right before your eyes? My best friend couldn’t afford the expensive ring. I was at the God damn pricey store with shimmering accessories and wedding bands. And then I came across you and your girl. I don’t know who she is but she’s an eclectic in this matter.”
“She’s my girlfriend and that’s her ring. Hence, you can be as sincere as you may be but i don’t give a damn. Get me the ring back and I won’t tell a soul about the crime.”
“Hey, I know this means a lot to you and it does, to me too. In fact, any girl will want her proposal to be an unforgettable moment,imbued with a thousand dreams waiting to get started. I believe, even in your case, you’re so madly in love with your girl you could spend your entire fortune for her. This moment will never happen again for him. Go ahead, take a look of how romantically he had slipped on the ring on her finger. It is actually only because of you that this has happened. You are the reason for their magical union. I feel that now you will understand the depth of their love. They were almost on the verge of breaking up but you’ve brought the reason for them to be together now, till eternity. Oh how could I ever thank you for this gift??” Robby stood clueless as the girl chattered away.
“And then??” Kavi asked on, now piqued with elevated curiosity.
“She hugged me and introduced me to the couple. Both of them were literally showering praises for me.” Kavi raised his eyebrow.
“What? Really?” Kavi blinked his eyes in disbelief.
“Yeah dude. It was sheer craziness.It was awkward but as I got to know of the guy’s intense love, I felt like such a sham. It was a perfect reunion. No pressure, no expectations; just pure love.” Robby couldn’t believe he just said that out loud.
“What about Fresca and her family?”
“I can’t blame them as they are the CEO and managing directors of their Vogue magazine.”
“Dude, why are we even talking about this? You’ve told me enough, about how you’ve decided to be committed to Fresca.”
“That was to prove my ex wrong of her perceptions about me. That commitments scare the shit out of me. And what other bait than Fresca??”
“So what’s shaking the foundation of your commitment now? Kavi quizzed him.
“There is something so charismatic about her. Her smile aroused much warmth in me. There was this instant connection between us in a dark room laden with the glittery gems as witness. Her smile makes me want to revisit the memory.”
“All of that in just one encounter? Now I can really envision you sandwiched, between rags and riches. Dude, Fresca’s not gonna leave you man!” Kavi couldn’t help jesting at Robby.
“Maybe I’ll get her some other ring in compensation before I…”
“Phew! Finally found my car keys. What?”
“Before you?” Kavi grew impatient.
“Before I break up with her.”
“Wait…What? What about your commitment?”
“I think I’ve found my soulmate. I think I’ve fallen in love with her.”
“Have you gone insane? You just met her once.”
“Did you see my phone? I don’t know how I keep misplacing my stuff. “
“Dude, I’m talking to you. Ok, do you at least know her name, background? I mean..”
“I heard her pals calling her Archie. That’s her name for you and..” Kavi interrupted him.
“Why is Fresca calling me? Where’s your phone?”
“That’s what I’ve been trying to find… Help me!”
“You and your pile of clothes.” Kavi searched along for some time till a thought disturbed him, stopping him in his tracks. “You said this Archie girl hugged you, right?”
“She stole the ring at first. Now, your Iphone is missing. Could she, by any chance..?”
“Are you crazy? Why would she do that?”
“Why are you overreacting? I’ve seen some friends of mine being addicted to shoplifting. She has obviously stolen before your eyes. She could as well be a fraud. I’m just stating a possibility. You don’t have to be so aggravated.”
“Just shut up, alright?”
“Fresca keeps calling. Handle her first, okay? Then we can find your phone. Excuse me.”
Robby searched endlessly for his mobile. Kavi’s remarks stung him. His conscience couldn’t accept the minute probability of Archie being a shoplifter. Nah, she can’t be, he murmured. He checked his leather jacket which he hung behind the door. It was the last place to search.
“Found your phone?”
As Kavi came out dressed, he wondered what Robby was reading.
“Checking this after I’ve broken up with Fresca.”
“You what? When?”
“Over the phone. Go ahead, laugh for all you want.”
“I sure will. You really felt nothing when she hugged you? Frankly speaking, her website address and mobile number are all phony. Try calling her.”
Kavi dialled the number. It was invalid. Upon checking the website address, there was no such domain.
“Lodge a report. Isn’t it obvious? Come!” Kavi locked their room and both of them sped off on his bike. “Joke of the millennium and yes, deadly fall indeed, Robby!”