Author: with pearl and silk extracts PM
For the Popping That Question contest. When the power goes out on their block, what do Noah and Katie do? Walk into a jewelry store, pretending to be a couple to look for rings, of course.Rated: Fiction T - English - Friendship/Romance - Words: 4,743 - Reviews: 14 - Favs: 45 - Follows: 3 - Published: 06-29-10 - Status: Complete - id: 2823220
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
You know how some clichés make you feel like you just want to go, "Aww!" and some just make you want to puke?
Well, my life has had so many of those "Aww!" ones I want to puke. My girlfriends love cooing over them, the ones that feel like the fairytales your parents would tell you at bedtime when you were little.
For example, I met my best friend Noah when I was five, and I've known him for twenty years. We met in a sandbox, got married, and he vowed to remember this forever.
Actually, what really happened was he said to me, a short while after our wedding, "I don't really know if I'll remember this for that long, but I promise I'll marry you for real one day. Just hit me really hard if I ever forget, okay?"
It's probably really obvious – and definitely a cliché – that I have a crush on him. I don't know when I started thinking of him as more than my friend; I just know when I finally realized it. My friends aren't oblivious – they're always teasing Noah and I about acting like a married couple, especially after the one time we kissed in front of them.
You see, when your best friend is someone you've known since you were young, your families tend to be close, too. Our parents always teased us and it's happened so many times we have a routine – I make a joking insult about Noah, he pretends to sulk, and we all laugh. I don't know what he feels for me, really, other than friendship. There are times I panic at the thought of him knowing of my crush on him, but then I remember how he doesn't give me a second glance whenever he has a girlfriend. He literally just says, "Hey (insert girlfriend's name), this is my friend Katie. Katie, (girlfriend). Let's go now, (girlfriend)."
But then again, if I mention that, I can't forget to mention how all of his relationships end – his girlfriend usually takes about six weeks of being jealous that he hangs out with me more than with her and issues an ultimatum that has more or less of the same three words, "Her or me?"…
There's also that cliché where it's Christmas and our families were spending it together and – surprise, surprise! – we were stuck under the mistletoe, right after Grandma's remark, "You should kiss that girl while you're both still young."
I had cringed, trying to ignore the sounds of laughter and agreement when Noah agreed, replying, "I should."
Then he dragged me to the mistletoe, ignored my shrill shriek my friends still enjoy imitating, "What are you doing?" and stole my first kiss.
That was nine years ago.
After that, there was no awkwardness, or at least, he eliminated the possibility of it the next day by acting like he usually did. We never talked about it but I noticed him staring at my lips every once in a while.
Then, when we were twenty-one, all our friends took us to a club to celebrate our new freedom and encouraged us to try some alcohol (well, legally, at least).
Noah and I did … and wound up in bed.
I didn't really remember anything, only how it felt to be in his arms. I felt a little cheated too, because I had been hoping my first time would be with someone who cared about me (well, more specifically, Noah, of course) … and that I could remember it.
We had to talk about that one, at least – it was the possibly the biggest pink elephant in the room!
But like in every other cliché I had in my life, he failed to rise up to be the guy in my fairytale.
I mean, we talked, alright. It was kind of awkward talking while still being naked, so I shuffled as best as I could near the side of the bed where I spotted some of my clothes. I would have asked him to give me some privacy to dress (I had no idea of how I was going to get it on after I reached my destination, anyway), but I had been afraid to interrupt him and have him resume after with a different mindset than before.
In retrospect, I realized what I had been scared of was giving him the time while I was dressing (if he had first did not, of course – but this was a gamble as well) to regret what we had done.
What I did probably gave him more time to think than the amount of time he would have gotten if I had asked him to leave or something. In trying to subtly get my clothes, I misjudged where the end of the bed was and fell, taking the blanket with me.
Looking down at me from the bed, he laughed. I started laughing too, and this lessened a bit of the tension. We talked during breakfast – well, lunch, really – but I did not walk out of there with a boyfriend, nor did I leave with a (more) broken heart.
We were still friends.
I beat myself up over that a lot. He had basically ignored the possibility of us having more than platonic feelings for each other, apologized for the consequences that had resulted from his drinking (like I was innocent), and agonized over my loss of remembering my first time. I wanted to suggest maybe we could do it again so I could have such a memory, but I chickened out. I didn't think he would have taken me seriously, anyway.
However, I was grateful that the one cliché I didn't want didn't happen.
I didn't get pregnant.
But the awkwardness lasted … until the next time we ended up in bed.
It wasn't like we had been drunk, either. We avoided drinking, at least with each other, always making excuses if our other friends invited us both. We were just watching a movie in the apartment (I had just recently moved in after a break-in at my own apartment made Noah, his family, my family, and all our friends convince me to move in with him) when I turned, noticed him staring at me, and moved closer to him.
When I went back to my room (alone) the next morning, we talked some more and agreed to have an arrangement as friends with benefits. The talk about each other 'having needs' Noah gave was far more awkward than when our parents decided to teach us about sex… together. We had only been eleven then and twenty-two when he gave the talk, but the same outcome resulted. We promised to never mention it to anyone.
And that's where I am now – twenty-five years old with my biological clock ticking (or is it really my parents finally getting to me?), telling me to get married and have children. The thing was, I didn't have any serious relationships (I think a little part of me kept holding out for Noah, preventing me from having them) and while I wasn't exactly happy, I was okay keeping the arrangement Noah and I made three years ago.
It didn't seem to be in danger of burning out any time soon, either. I noticed a decrease in Noah getting girlfriends and a frequency of him using our arrangement. I didn't mind – how could I when this was possibly the closest (and only) way I could be with him? – but I had only recently accepted he was only interested in my body.
After that realization, I didn't really know what to do. I was less okay with the arrangement, more anxious about telling him what I felt about him. I knew I was going to tell him sometime, but I just wasn't sure if it would become reality in the near future. I grew antisocial and Noah noticed, often trying to get me to tell him what was wrong. That would lead to me refusing and then us arguing. While before we promised we would never go to bed mad at each other, after we established the arrangement, it took on a new meaning – this just meant we wouldn't be sleeping together that night. Needless to say, there were more of those nights after my realization.
It was one of these more often recurring mornings when I woke up from a loud sputtering noise coming from the old air conditioner I had managed to take from my apartment. I was about to drift off back into sleep because I wasn't too worried since the air conditioner made noises all the time when it suddenly shut off. I was up with a start, groaning at the thought of spending what yesterday's forecast promised today was to be the hottest August summer day in New York City history, thanks to global warming.
I thought frantically, hoping I had enough supplies in my room to keep me cool the whole day when Noah barged in.
"You're letting the cold air out!" I immediately shrieked, forgetting things were a little awkward between us after another attempt on his part to find out what was wrong with me from a few days ago. I could also see myself in a tank top and shorts, hair flying unattractively in all directions. It wasn't that Noah had never seen me like this in the morning, but I just felt embarrassed since his brown hair looked like it always did – messy and attractive.
"Close it!" I exclaimed, already feeling like how the Wicked Witch of the West must have, partly from the heat and partly from the awkwardness making itself more noticeable as my grogginess wore off. The hot air was coming in so quickly that the room felt like a sauna by the time he made a move to close it.
"I was hoping your air conditioner was still working," he replied. "I'm really sorry – I should have knocked."
I could imagine him thinking, If you would just tell me what's bothering you, we wouldn't be like this…
"I'm going to take a shower first," I told him, trying not to stutter. "Is that, um, okay with you?"
"Sure," he said. His voice wasn't something I'd exactly call warm, but it wasn't hostile either. "Be my guest."
I was about to run to the bathroom, when he stopped me by the arm, teasing, "Don't faint, okay?"
My low tolerance of heat had not been forgotten by him and that made me smile a little, but then again, that had gotten me into quite a bit of trouble – it was practically the mother of all my embarrassing accidents.
When I came out of the shower with wet hair and in a yellow skimpy summer dress, I was greeted with the sight of Noah's face in the freezer and his boxers hanging dangerously low, as if only his hips were the only opposing force against gravity.
"Morning," I said.
"Power's out for our street. First I called our super about the power and he told us Con Edison is coming in about an hour to start fixing it. For now, he advises we do something about our perishables. Can you look through the fridge? I'll go get our cooler."
We ended up eating ice cream for breakfast though I warned him about the consequences. All he did was threaten to put ice cream down my dress, and just like that, we were friends again.
If it was so simple for us to be friends again, I wondered as I ate my ice cream, would it be as easy for us to become more?
We left the stuffy apartment building and walked to the bus stop, where there was one vacant seat.
"You sit," Noah said, gesturing, but I didn't see why he always offered. He knew I would refuse and then he would sit down, pulling me down onto his lap.
We did just that, discussing what to do for the day. I saw families I had baby-sat for waving to me as they exited the building, most likely to the park to take advantage of the sprinklers.
"Don't look so glum – when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade," Noah tried, but I still hadn't forgotten how I could have stayed cool if it had not been for his interference.
"No," I growled, but he could tell I was half joking, "if life hands you a spoon, exchange it for a fork and stab something – like you."
"It isn't that bad, Katie… why don't you pick something out for us to do today – you get to pick, but I'll only be willing to do it if it is within reason."
"We could go to 34th and stay in the mall," I suggested. "Might as well kill two birds with one stone. I want to find a present for my grandma."
"The same one who kicked us out two weeks ago saying if we wanted to come back we'd better be wearing matching wedding rings?" Noah laughed. "I love your grandma."
"Yeah, the only thing stopping you from legally making her your own grandmother is she'll always be making you try on all those old clothes."
"I don't think she'll let us back in her house. She sounded really serious this time – but anyway, what do you want to get her?"
"I don't really know," I said. "I thought I'd go and find her a new pair of earrings or something – you know she loves jewelry."
"And then what, dive in the clothing stores?"
I gave him a guilty smile. "You know me."
"We're looking for free air conditioning, right? Eventually we'll have to leave your clothing stores after you buy things and we'd look weird if we just went around looking for hours upon hours," he pointed out. "And I know you aren't made of money, so we can't enter every single one."
"True," I agreed. "So what would you propose, professor?"
"Why don't we find your clothes and then see?"
Remembering Noah's remark about my clothes, I refrained from buying anything save for one of those cute but common shirts that say, "I'm with Stupid!" just to get him back. He looked amused, but didn't say anything.
He dragged me to the nearest air conditioned food area, but since the café was full inside, we were made to eat outdoors.
"Where to now, O Wise One?" I said sarcastically, biting into my food.
"Don't know," he replied, as he looked around. It may have been hot as ever, but the amount of people walking around was still the same. I followed suit.
We both saw Kay's Jewelers at the same time, but I dismissed the idea of even going in there. The jewelry was certainly beautiful but way beyond my budget. I would have more luck crafting a macaroni necklace for my grandma than looking for something there without losing my arm and leg.
"Every kiss begins with Kay… tie! Katie! I have an idea!"
I was suddenly wary – you couldn't be friends with someone for a long time without having a bad feeling about those words.
"Earth to Katie…"
"Let's go in there! We'll pretend to be a to-be engaged couple and just stay there. What's perfect is we can leave the store without buying anything, because we could say we weren't happy with the selection. I bet they wouldn't hold it against us, since they're probably superstitious and believe if we bought the wrong ring we would have a divorce later on."
"Are you crazy?"
"I wouldn't say crazy. Maybe an eccentric who looks good in jeans."
We entered the store holding hands, bombarded by cold air, and waited to be noticed.
"Welcome to Kay's!" an employee said professionally. She was slightly shorter than I was (around 5' compared to my 5'3") and I could tell she was a new employee from her slightly shaky stature, despite her professional tone. I could see her nametag read 'Emma.' "How may I help you?"
"We're looking for wedding rings," Noah said, which was a good thing. I was so nervous my throat had dried up.
"What type of ring would you like?"
"I'm thinking of a pair of three-stone diamond rings," he said.
Emma and I both looked impressed, but probably for different reasons – me, because I didn't know he knew that much about rings. And her? "To represent your past, present, and future together," Emma added.
She went to behind the counter and brought out a case of different pairs of rings. Then she gestured us over.
"May I touch?" Noah asked. Emma nodded and he brought out a pair, bringing them to my fingers. I smoothed over them, careful not to damage them, then put them back – I had seen the price tags.
"You must know quite a bit about rings if you already knew what kind of ring you wanted to pick …?"
"Noah. Aside from that little bit, I really don't know much," he admitted.
"Well," Emma said. I could see her straighten her form slightly as she started to talk. "To pick the right ring, you should always consider the 4 C's – the cut, clarity, color, and carat weight. In the cuts, you should always look for a diamond that maximizes brilliance, that is, a diamond whose cuts have the most pathways for light to pass through. For clarity, you want a diamond with the least amount of blemishes that could possibly lessen the sparkle."
Then she took out a small magnifying glass along with a ring. "See? This is a loupe, which allows me to determine the clarity of the diamond. For color, aside from those fancy ones, the most beautiful diamond is colorless. Some will pick colorless diamonds for their sparkle while others will choose slightly yellow diamonds for their slightly warmer effect. As for carat weight, carat is the measuring unit. Obviously, the more carats a diamond has, the more expensive."
"Well, we aren't as experienced as you are, Emma," Noah said. I could hear him taking an almost embarrassed tone. "Could you possibly stay with us to choose?"
"Absolutely!" she said. "Why don't we start with what kind of color you would like?"
"Well, honey?" Noah nudged me. "Why don't we start at the beginning? What kind of ring do you want?"
I remembered the sterling silver diamond and garnet heart ring Noah gave me for my twenty-first birthday. Diamond was my birthstone; garnet was his. There were two hearts angled towards each other – one garnet, one diamond – with a silver bar in between riddled with smaller garnets and diamonds. I remembered his parents had named him Noah in reference to the one with the ark, who had been said to have used a garnet lantern, promising sincerity, loyalty, and devotion; the diamond supposedly was the emblem of fearlessness and invincibility…
I had thought that was kind of strange. The diamond was my birthstone, and I didn't have invincibility, much less fearlessness, at all. Noah wasn't exactly promising those things to me either. A tiny bit of me thought it would have probably been more fitting if we had switched the birthstones around. I later heard through the grapevine he had gone to a jeweler's and got it custom-made, but it was never confirmed. Every time I brought it up, Noah would change the subject.
"Maybe a single stone in the middle," I shrugged. "I don't know."
"A solitaire?" Emma broke in. "Let me see here…"
She brought out another collection.
"Can I speak with my girlfriend for a minute?" Noah asked. As soon as she drifted to another part of the store, he hissed, "This is boring. Let's make it more interesting."
"How do you propose to do that?" I asked.
"Just pick a fight or something with me, okay – just do something."
I looked cross, at the thought of having to do more. Was it really worth it to make all this effort just to stay cool?
"Is something wrong?" Emma asked hesitantly when she came back.
"Everything's fine," I said with clenched teeth. "My boyfriend just told me he didn't want rings. He wants to get matching nose piercings instead. I suppose you wouldn't have those in your inventory."
"I think you'd have better luck at Claire's," Emma nodded, but then she looked at Noah. Whether she was looking at him with a different light or not, those nose piercings probably scared her a little. "What brought on this fancy? Why not a beautiful ring that won't… fall out of fashion?"
"I just feel it's the right thing to do," Noah replied. "Don't you think so too?"
"Right," Emma agreed unsurely.
"The spirits tell me your little pants are on fire," he said, a little too gravely.
Emma, to her credit, wasn't showing any signs of running away yet. "No, no, I'm telling the truth!"
"How can you tell that someone's a compulsive liar? I mean, assuming that their pants aren't on fire," I said to him in a stage whisper.
"The thing is, though," Noah continued, "we'd like some pizzazz on them – like diamonds or something."
"I think that would be a little too heavy," Emma said seriously. "It would probably wreck your nasal tissue."
She must have realized she was losing her customers because then she said, "Are you sure you don't want to reconsider looking at our selection of rings?"
"I agree," I said. "And remember the last time you tried getting a nose piercing…?"
"Oh, yeah," Noah shuddered.
Emma checked her watch when another girl wearing the same attire walked in.
"Molly!" We could sense her relief when she turned toward us. "I'm so sorry, but my shift's almost over. I have to go."
"Oh," said Molly, "if you're in the middle of something, just continue, Emma. It'll count as your overtime."
Emma looked torn as she said, "I have a doctor's appointment and I can't be late."
"Well," Molly replied, "I'll help you two the best I can."
Emma looked guilty when she left.
"Now," Molly said, "what can I help you with?"
"We're looking for wedding rings."
"Do you have any preferences?"
"Let me draw you the picture of the ideal ring," Noah said. "May I have pen and paper please?"
As Noah moved to a side to draw the ring, Molly said, "What a catch this one is."
"Pardon?" I asked.
"It's so obvious he's smitten with you. I bet you've got him wrapped around your finger."
"You've got it all wrong," I started to say, but Noah had come back, showing off his drawing with a flourish.
"What… is that?" asked Molly.
"It's a ring. Watermelon, to be exact," Noah replied.
"Yes, watermelon. We would like a ring like this please," Noah said, shooting her a look. "You do know what we're talking about here, right?"
"No, not really…?"
"It's a watermelon ring."
Noah sighed. "Let me explain. This is a watermelon-flavored ring."
"That still doesn't make any sense to me," Molly said, staring at the lopsided circle and a big tear-shaped lump attached to it. "What exactly is this?"
I stared at it, seriously wondering where my best friend learned how to draw (if ever).
"It's a Ring Pop," Noah said. "See? When we were little, I proposed to her with a watermelon-flavored Ring Pop. Now I want to marry her, but I think she'd hurt me if I gave her a Ring Pop."
I hit him with my bag. "You idiot!" I yelled. "It wasn't watermelon – it was strawberry!"
I walked away in a huff, stomping to a corner. One ring in particular caught my eye. It was one of those solitaire ones Emma had been talking about – a heart-shaped diamond attached to a platinum band. It reminded me of the ring he'd given me before. It wasn't like Noah to forget things (especially if it was about me, my friends would add).
"Hi," Noah said, coming up from behind me to follow my gaze, but I don't think he saw which one I was looking at. "I'm sorry. I just forg – "
What happened next was a little funny to see. He just stopped talking and had some kind of revelation, I think. I can't describe his face beyond that.
"Oh my god," he said quietly. "It's been so long…"
"What are you talking about?" I asked, annoyed. "You better think hard, mister, on how you're going to explain how you forgot this one."
Noah called Molly over, pointing at a ring in the general area where the one I had seen was. As she unlocked the case, I wondered briefly what she and Emma must be thinking of us. Were they going to laugh it off? I hoped so.
Something broke my train of thought and I realized it was Noah, getting down on the floor in a kneeling position. He was holding the ring I had had my eyes on. I let out a breath I didn't realize I had been holding – could he hear my thundering heart?
"Katie," he said, "let's visit your grandma."
A/N: Wow, this took a long time! I did learn quite a few things writing this. For example, the 4 C's to choosing a ring (cut, color, clarity, and carat weight), different types of metals, etc. The information all came from Kay's Jewelers' website (www . kay . com) and their "Every kiss begins with Kay" is not mine.
This was for the "Popping That Question" contest hosted by Annoyance. (http : // ridiculouslyhappy . webs . com / contest . htm)
Rules (for all OneShots in the Ridiculously Happy Contest series)
-Has to be a OneShot above 2500 words, and below 10,000 words
-Must be Ridiculously Happy (no angst, tragedy, hurt/comfort. Looking for humor, romance, drama, general etc. Happy endings only please)
-Set in the current world (no sci-fi, supernatural, alternate universe, 200 years ago etc)
-Be realistic (give the reader the feeling that your story could actually occur in real life. Just because it says Ridiculously Happy, don't go overboard)
-Add the words 'For the Popping That Question' in your summary.
Guidelines (for the Popping That Question Contest'
-Must be about (surprise, surprise!) a proposal.
-No flashbacks or flash forwards. We don't want to know how they met, or how their wedding turns out. All we care about is the proposal!
-Cannot use the phrase 'Will you marry me?'
-Use any (or all) of the following sentences. (Credit to Rebekah (Ravina) for all of these lines.)
(a) If life hands you a spoon, exchange it for a fork and stab something.
(b) And if someone told me one more time that my ***(insert body part #1 here)*** suited my ***(insert body part #2 here***, I was going to ***(insert threat here)***.
(c) And that, my friends, is how my nose turned green.
-Must include a reference to any (or all) of these shows.
(b) Desperate Housewives
"You should kiss that girl while you're both still young." (Castle)
"If life hands you a spoon, exchange it for a fork and stab something." (contest)
"I wouldn't say crazy. Maybe an eccentric who looks good in jeans." (Psych)
"The spirits tell me your little pants are on fire." (Psych)
"How can you tell that someone's a compulsive liar? I mean, assuming that their pants aren't on fire." (Psych)
Thank you for reading, and I hope you review!