The Proposal (Short Story)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
Restricted for language more than theme. This is just a snapshot of a modern and more mature couple.

Submitted: August 20, 2012

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Submitted: August 20, 2012

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Margaret was fifty and it showed. She’d been a heavy smoker her whole life; her skin was yellow, her eyes were heavy and the fingernails on her left hand were crusty. Her eyes were bloodshot from the last night’s bottle of vodka. The man she shared her bed with was ten years her senior.
“Are you awake?”
He grunted.
“You need to leave.”
He snorted.
“My husband will be back soon.”
“You don’t have a husband.”
Margaret rolled over and plucked a fag out of the box. She rested a plate on her stomach as an ash tray. It took her five or six clicks to get the flame bright enough.
She inhaled.
“Ah...what do I care?”
He blew his nose into the pillow and grunted: scratching the crease between his arse and taking a sip from a half-drunk bottle of beer.
“How long you going to keep this up, Jonny?”
“Usually about fifteen minutes.”
“You know what I mean.”
“You phoned me.”
“We’re too old for this.”
She stubbed the ash and lit another, scratching a scraggily strand of bleached hair from her eyebrow, she yawned. She pulled on a bra from under the pillow and some stained knickers.
“You know what I mean, Jonny.”
He grunted.
“Yeah, I know what you mean.”
“So?”
“So what?”
Some youthful hate shone in her eyes. They’d been lovers for years—nearly married—but she’d run off with her tom-boy neighbour. The one who’d lived next-door.
“So, Jonny?”
“I’m thinking,” He grumbled.
“You never think.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Men don’t think.”
“Bit of a stereotype.”
“It’s true.” Margaret found her stretch jeans.
“Yeah...well...neither do women.”
She shrugged and searched the room for her shirt. It was hanging off of the door handle. As she buttoned it up, she realised the button over her breasts had been torn off.
“Nice job, Jonny.”
He rolled over. His chest hair was curly and gray: his stomach was red from lying on his clothes. He knocked the ashtray over.
“Shit! Why’d you leave that there?”
“It was fine. You’re just clumsy!”
“Was that fag still lit?”
He started to beat at the sheets, spilling ash onto the bed. The plate shattered on the wooden floor and he bounced out from the covers, kicking the broken pieces under the bed.
“Put some clothes on—I don’t want to look at that shrivelled old thing.” Margaret said.
“You didn’t mind last night.”
“It wasn’t shrivelled then.”
“Well, your boobs aren’t that perky either.”
Margaret went to the window and pulled the curtains back: it was dull. She yawned, turned back to Jonny and watched him bounce one-legged around the room as he put his trousers back on.
“Get me a coffee, would ya?” He asked.
“Get it yourself.”
He left the bedroom with just his trousers and socks on. His big toenail was sticking out of the end of his sock and his greying hair was tufted. He left Margaret to fix her face and brush her hair. Jonny returned.
“Forgot me bloody glasses.” He left again.
Margaret looked out of the window, through the splatters of rain. On the street below umbrellas danced and dodged about. It was noisy.
Jonny returned with one mug.
“Where’s mine then?”
“You never drink tea.”
“I might have liked a—“
“—coffee? You don’t drink that either.”
“It’s nice to be asked.”
He rolled his eyes. “Would you like a cup of coffee?”
“No thanks.”
He sighed.
“Shit!”
Jonny spat his drink out. Dribbles of hot drink dewed in his chest hair. Margaret held back a laugh.
“That was stupid.” She said.
“Burns like hell.”
“I should get to work.” She showed no sympathy.
“Fancy licking this off first?” He asked.
“Not really.”
“I didn’t think you would.”
“You should leave.” Margaret reminded him.
“You should go to work.”
Jonny finished buttoning-up his shirt and started to tie his shoes up. His tight arse hovered in the air as he bent down.
“Why don’t you sit to do that?” Margaret said.
“I’m not that old yet.”
“Doesn’t mean I want your butt, bobbing in my face like a rugby player’s, whilst I’m getting ready.” She replied.
“You didn’t mind last night.”
“I was drunk.”
“Anyway, I thought you liked rugby players?” He said.
“I did when we were young.”
“I can still throw a spinner.”
Margaret took a sip of his coffee and grabbed her phone from the bedside table. She left the bedroom for the open-planned living area and started making some toast for her breakfast.
Jonny sat on the couch. He turned on the T.V. and put the News on. Some woman had lost her car and another young child had been published.
“You’re old now.” He reminded her.
“You’re older.”
“You’re haggard.”
“I still work.” She snapped.
Margaret plastered her toast with butter, drank a glass of cola and burped. She sat beside him and her phone beeped. She read the message.
“I’m late.”
“You’re hung-over.” He said.
“Maybe I won’t go?”
He shrugged. “It’s up to you.”
“I feel sick.”
“I’m not surprised after where your mouth was last night.”
“Yeah...well—you do still kiss like a dog.” She said.
“You used to moan all the time—what happened?” He asked.
“I got used to it.”
They sat on the couch for a few minutes before Margaret’s phone beeped again. She read the message, slid her plate onto the table and kicked her shoes off.
“So, you’re not actually going to leave today?” She asked.
“Bored of this game now,” Jonny said.
“Well...want to go back to bed?” Margaret shrugged.
“Shouldn’t you get to work?”
“Been fired.” She said.
“Oh. Alright then.”
He left the T.V. on and they went back to the bedroom. Margaret looked out of the window and Jonny started to strip the bed.
“What are we going to do?” Margaret asked.
He stood behind her. “You know I love you, right? I always have done.”
Jonny had run off with his PA after they’d broken-up. They didn’t see each other for three years but kept speaking. When they were reunited afterwards, it was the best month of their lives.
But they had been young then.
“I know.”


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