In My Pocket

“If you can guess what’s in my pocket, I’ll let you have it,” he said. 


She looked up at him from across the canoe. “How many tries?”


He held up his finger. “One.”


The picnic basket was at her feet. She flipped back the top and set her wine glass inside. Her lips were stained a deep berry red, her cheeks flushed, her smile growing.


“Can you give me hints?” she asked.


He looked out over the glassy lake. The shore, craggy with granite, green with conifers, was a thousand yards away. Theirs was the only boat on the water. Just as he’d hoped. 


He answered, “Only if you ask the right questions.”


She slid forward on her seat, her eyes bright. “Is it smaller than a breadbasket?”


“I did say it was in my pocket, didn’t I?”


She giggled. He rolled his eyes.


“Is it shiny?” she asked.


“Under this sun, it will glitter like nothing you’ve ever seen.” 


She caught her lip coyly between her teeth. The canoe swayed gently beneath them.


“Is it big?” she asked, hesitantly, hopefully.


“Big enough,” he said. Now she was the one to roll her eyes.


“Was it expensive?”


He smiled. “Worth every penny.”


Her cheeks flushed deeper. “Is it something you’ve been thinking about giving me for a while?”


Softly, so she had to strain to hear, he whispered, “You have no idea.”


She leaned back, dipped her fingers into the lake, stirred the rippled surface. Quick as a snake, she flicked water at him, making him flinch. She laughed. She extended her arm in front of her and wiggled her ring finger. “Are you going to put it right here?”


“Depends,” he said. She cocked her head. He said, “You haven’t guessed yet.”


Carefully in the swaying canoe, she got up and came to him. He made room for her on the narrow seat, his arm around her to keep her close. His other hand felt for the small box in his pocket.


“I know what it is,” she said, tilting her chin up to give him a look. “But saying it out loud kind of ruins the moment, don’t you think?”


“I don’t know,” he said, shrugging. “I thought it might be fun. Like a game.”


“As if I wouldn’t know,” she said, leaning into him comfortably. “As if you wouldn’t give it to me if I was wrong.”


He smiled to himself and said aloud, “You’re right. It’s yours no matter what.”


He slid off the seat and knelt in front of her, his fingers curled around the small box. The sun rained down upon her, lighting her hair, making her glow. In that moment she was as perfect as anything he’d ever seen. The canoe swayed side to side, gently rocking them, a slow, gentle dance. She looked down on him with familiar fondness.


“Kind of presumptuous,” she said teasingly. “I mean, I could always say no.”


“You could,” he acknowledged. “And you might. But it doesn’t matter. It’s for you.”


He took the box from his pocket and held it out for her to see. Her head tilted at the rectangular shape. “It’s bigger than I thought.”


His heart was calm, his hands steady as he asked, “Do you want to see?”


She rolled her eyes dramatically, mock-exasperated. “I know you haven’t done this before, but shouldn’t you ask me first? Or do you think I need to see it to say yes?”


“I just want you to know what you’re getting into,” he said, “but if you’d rather—”


“Okay, okay,” she said, shifting, settling in. She clasped her hands in her lap. “Show me what you’ve got.”


He opened the box, watching her expression change. Watched the anticipation fade into confusion. “I don’t—”


“It’s for you,” he said softly. “I bought it just for you.”


She laughed once, sharply, uneasily. She slid backward but immediately ran out of room. She looked around but there was nowhere to go.


He took the knife from the box and cast the box into the lake. It made small bubbles as it spiralled down.


“You were wrong about me, you know,” he said, as he stood in the trembling canoe. “I have done this before.”


The blade glinted in the sun. Her eyes went wide and her mouth gaped to scream.


He gave her what she’d asked for.

© 2018