This story is by Joya Williams and was part of our 2017 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the Spring Writing Contest stories here.
Lynette sat on the warm sand and let the small grains run through her fingers. She dug her toes in deep and with her legs slightly open like a child, she used her hands to pull away the sand to create a hole before the tide rushed in. Just like when she was a child, her efforts were futile but she continued diligently on in the battle against the sea. Perhaps she could dig a hole big enough to jump in and hide forever from her life and the mess she had created.
Lynette didn’t hear her cousin approaching.
“Ya?” she started but didn’t stop.
“Uh…what are you doing?”
“Digging a hole.”
“So I can bury my head in the sand. Literally.”
“Okay, what happened?”
“I don’t even know where to start.”
“The beginning is probably the best place.”
Thirty minutes later, they sat in the café across from the beach; heads bent low in intense conversation. Their food lay uneaten and Jasmine closed her eyes for a moment and rubbed her temples.
“Are you trying to tell me that you are engaged to two different men?” She whispered furiously. Lynette winced at the words. There was no way to make what she’d done sound good. Her life was a complete disaster and she could see no way out without causing pain for everyone involved. The beach was still visible from where she sat and she longed for the hole in the sand she had created. It was better than the one she had dug in her love life.
“How could you let this happen?” Jasmine asked incredulously.
Lynette paused as she thought back to the events of the past two days.
The problem had started when Jackson had called her at work and wanted to take her to dinner. She should have known something was wrong. Spontaneity was not one of his strengths. To Jackson ‘stepping outside of your comfort zone’ meant changing his flavour of toothpaste. He had taken her to dinner and stuck the ring in her wine glass. Totally predictable and totally Jackson.
“Are you sure?” she had asked him instead of saying “Yes!”
“Of course I am! Aren’t you?” he had asked in return. He was kneeling on the floor of the restaurant and the situation felt awkward. The other patrons waited for her to say something.
“Of course I’m sure.” she said.
But that wasn’t really an answer and Lynette knew it.
“So…” Jackson was starting to look embarrassed. She felt awful. She didn’t want to get married to Jackson or anyone else. This is why she was casually dating. There really was only one thing she could say.
“Yes I’ll marry you Jackson!” Lynette’s voice sounded strained to her own ears. “Please get up off the floor.” She said a little more quietly as the small restaurant exploded into cheers and well wishes. Jackson jumped up and kissed her in front of everyone and Lynette allowed herself to be congratulated by strangers.
“What the hell did I just do?” Lynette thought as she lay in bed later that night.
Darren picked her up for their movie date the following day. Lynette couldn’t help thinking that perhaps she should tell him about her engagement to Jackson. It was still new having only happened the day before, but it was still big news. She tried to think of it as her way out of their relationship. There was really nothing left to be said after “I’m engaged to someone else.”
She snuck a quick look at him as he drove to the theater and allowed herself to enjoy the beauty of him. He was a very handsome man but then again so was Jackson. He was a very nice guy, but so was Jackson. “Ughh! Cut it out Lynette!” This was why she was in the situation she was in.
“You okay babe?” Darren was sitting in the parked car looking at her. Lynette hadn’t even noticed that they had stopped. Had she been talking to herself out loud?
“Oh sorry, lost in thought.” was all she could think to say. She was already wishing for the movie to be over, so she could tell Darren about her and Jackson. He knew there was someone else in the picture but he hadn’t been ready to commit and so Lynette was brutally honest with him about seeing other people. In the past, he had always made it clear that he wasn’t ready to be ‘tied down’ and she respected that. The walk from the parking lot seemed to take forever. In the theater there was a line for everything; tickets, popcorn and the woman’s washroom. Darren went in to grab seats so she could get one last pee in before the movie started. She always had to go half way through. She stared in the mirror as she washed her hands. Okay Lynette, you can do this. You have to tell Darren that you can’t see him anymore. No calls, no texts, no spontaneous visits. You’re engaged. Doesn’t matter that you don’t really want to marry Jackson. That’s not the point. You’re no longer available. End of story.
She dried her hands with conviction. She was ready.
On her way back into the theatre something seemed strange. She couldn’t hear the normally loud previews and she wondered if she was walking into the wrong one. She was sure Darren had told her theater number six. As she walked up the ramp, she looked up at the screen and almost passed out.
“LYNETTE DAVIS WILL YOU MARRY ME?”
There was a deafening round of applause as she continued slowly into the theater. People were standing and cheering. She searched frantically for Darren desperately hoping there was another Lynette Davis in one of the seats. She finally found him in the middle of the crowd wearing the cheesiest grin. How could anyone be so goofy and so self-assured at the same time? Oh no.
Lynette came back to the present and realized that Jasmine was still talking. Well, at least furiously whispering at her.
“Well, to be honest, I didn’t let this happen. It just…happened.” Lynette answered. Jasmine slapped her hand on her forehead in disbelief and frustration.
“Come on Lynette. Only a few months ago you told me that you were going to break it off with both of them. Now you’re telling me that you accidentally got engaged to two different men?” Jasmine searched frantically for the server. Now she wished she had ordered something stronger. Fancy beverages just didn’t seem sufficient for this conversation.
After listening to her cousin, Lynette felt like a real jerk. She thought she was being a ‘modern woman’ by dating whom she pleased. She didn’t know how she’d gotten herself in this situation and she had even less idea how to get out of it. She had decided to break up with both of them weeks ago. She wasn’t ready to commit to either of them. But when she’d tried to break up with Jackson in the park, his big brown eyes were just pools of emotion behind his dark rimmed glasses. Lynette thought he might cry! She just couldn’t do it! She figured breaking up with Darren would have been easier; since he was the ‘tough guy’ and always wanted to keep things casual. But when she tried to break up with him later that day at her apartment, he had held her and kissed her so deeply, she was literally breathless. Normally Lynette wasn’t one to be swept off her feet but what kind of a person breaks up with someone after that? Lynette was obviously NOT that person.
“What are you going to do?” she asked. Lynette knew the answer but was hoping Jasmine had a better plan.
Lynette sighed. “I have to tell them both and break it off today. I haven’t slept in two days.” She would miss them both for different reasons. She never meant for it to get this far with either of them and now she was about to hurt them both. She felt nauseous.
“Will you stay with me? I sent them both a text telling them to meet me here.” She asked her cousin. Jasmine wanted to run as far away as possible, but she couldn’t leave Lynette stranded.
“Sure. But I don’t know what help I can be. Do you want me to tell them the truth about the engagements?” She held her cousin’s hand across the café table ready to offer what little support she could.
“No.” Lynette shook her head. “I’m just not sure how they’re going to react when they find out I’m pregnant.”
Jasmine opened her mouth but couldn’t manage to find any words…at all. She followed her cousin’s gaze toward the beach. They both longed for the feel of the sand and the hole that lay somewhere in the distance.