"This is the worst idea on the planet."
"Oh?" George looks up from testing the lines, ties, and cords. "Is that so?" he challenges. "It's not the worst idea I've ever had?"
"It's the worst idea anyone, anywhere, has ever had!" I insist over the rush-gush-crash of the nearby waterfall – the 100-meter-tall! waterfall which roars white fury into the slippery-rock-ringed tide pool far, far below us. I resist the urge to let my gaze stray downward. I will not be mesmerized by the frothing water beast again.
I shout, "Didn't you see that thing on the news about that bungee jumping accident in Africa?"
"Hush! You'll jinx us."
"We're already jinxed."
"Oh, that's a great way to start a marriage."
"How would you kno—!" I stop, cough, and sputter. "Marriage? What—?"
He shrugs one shoulder and glances over the edge of the precipice. "How else did you think I was going to work up the nerve to ask you?"
"That's nice," I reply in a strangled tone. "Forget getting down on bended knee. Forget the crowd of on-lookers. Oh, no. You'd much rather face certain death! Asking me to marry you is the only marginally better alternative?"
"Well, you're not exactly the easiest person to live with."
"That's not true and you know it. You've met my mother."
"And you harp on and on at me about the dishes."
Which reminds me! "Did you get a lobotomy or something when you were a kid? Or is there some other reason for why you seem to think that dirty dishes are coffee table ornaments?"
He laughs. "You are evil."
"And you're still planning on asking me to marry you?" Clearly, we're dealing with a problem far more disturbing than a fear of popping the question, here. I mean, he's obviously not in his right mind. Hm, maybe he's in his left, trapped there by the lobotomy.
I shake my head in disbelief. I'd say I was marveling, but I'm not entirely sure what it is about him that has me mesmerized. His gumption? Masochism? Stupidity? All of the above?
I suggest very helpfully, "You could just ask me right now and save yourself the concussion." Which I'm sure he'll get if he makes this jump.
"And ruin the fun?"
"Fun?" I'm sure I must have heard that wrong.
"Fun," he insists with a persuasively charming wiggle of his brows. "I want you to remember this moment."
"Oh, I'll remember it." The time I talked my future husband off a cliff. Oh, yeah. This is one for the scrapbook.
He shakes his head. "No! I mean…" With a sigh, he reaches out to gently twist a wayward lock of hair behind my ear. "I don't want to be the only one sweating bullets. I want us to do this together."
"Wet ourselves, you mean?"
He rolls his eyes. "Take the plunge, feel the thrill, burst with jubilation—"
"I'm already thrilled, so we can pack up this stuff and drive back to civilization now." I forget my earlier resolve not to and glance at the pit of watery despair beneath us as I confess, "I think I need to use the little fiancée's room."
"You work in an office. You need a little excitement in your life."
A little excitement. I gape at him. "OK, now you're just being a typical meteorologist and overcompensating."
"If this were tornado country, we'd be out chasing one of those," I predict.
"That's not a bad idea, actually…"
I resist the urge to shake him.
Something in my expression must be slightly alarming because he raises his hands, palms open in defeat. "OK, all right, fine. We'll do it your way. Flowers and wine and bended knee."
"No tornados, no cliffs," I add.
He sighs with incomprehensible regret. "No tornados, no cliffs." He gathers up the hardware and lengths of bungee cable and then informs me with a grin, "At least one good thing came out of all this."
"Oh?" I can't wait to hear it.
"You've already said yes." He winks.
I watch him navigate the overgrown, wooded trail back to the car on the service road and shake my head. That man is devious. Scarily devious. I feel a smile curve my lips. True, he's devious and flawed. He's also daring and fantastic… and he's all mine.
George still refers to that day as "the day you agreed to marry me." I still call it "the day I talked you off a cliff." You know, sometimes marriage is about compromises and sometimes it just isn't.
. . . . .
Notes: Cover art for Compromises is available on my website. Compromises was written in response to Tara Tyler's January 2012 Short Story Prompt on Blogger. Thanks for the inspiration, Auntie Tara!
Other works by K. Writerly:
The Last Legend, a novel
Without Wings, a novel
The Groundskeeper of Kylemore Abbey, a short story
Doolin's Second Pub, a short story
Medusa, a short story