by Gareth Draper
“I didn’t know what to do!” Nick said, panic stringing up his voice. He pushed past Tom, into his best friend’s house.
“Come in, won’t you?” Tom said, closing the door and turning to Nick, who was pacing the length of his hallway.
“She… S-s-she just… she kept pushing,” Nick continued. His hair had fallen across his forehead, sticking to it in sweaty ribbons. Tom had told him to get it cut, but Nick was ever paranoid about his widow’s peak. “Pushing, Tom. All the time. It never stopped. For months. I mean, nobody could take that, Tom. Nobody!”
“Nick..?” Tom said, a question in the name. He held up his hands, a calming gesture. The air in the corridor had tightened, drawn in, bracing for something. Tom felt a sinking pressure in his chest. “Nick,” he repeated. “What’s going on?”
“I think she was expecting it! I could see it in her eyes.” Nick widened his eyes and stared right at Tom to emphasize his point. “Just for a moment. A split second before… But she’d been on at me for months. Months. I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t!” He loosened his already slack tie, pulling it down from his unbuttoned collar with quick, snappy jerks and pulled off his beige suit jacket. His sweat drenched shirt clung to his thin shoulders. “I mean, it wasn’t like she didn’t deserve it, Tom. She did! I know she did. You know she did. Hell, you said you’d do it yourself if I didn’t! But… I… I…”
Nick ran out of words and with them, footsteps. He stopped pacing and turned to Tom. Tom was looking at his friend with eyes at least as wide as Nick’s. He moved his mouth but nothing came out. He licked his lips and tried again.
“You…” he steadied himself with a shift of his feet. “You… proposed?!”
Gareth Draper studied Creative Writing at the University of Derby. Any spare minute he gets, he writes on any spare surface he can find.