Too Bad

"you know me so well."

She listened to him as per usual. Marjorie wore her favorite black turtle neck and a midi skirt that never left her closet. It was her go-to outfit on days she left the house with any intent of looking “nice.” They got in Richard’s little Toyota ten minutes after seven, because he could never be on time. Not when he knew she was a stickler for it.

He was more than pleased with himself when they got seated at the restaurant and he checked his phone for the time, only to find it was closer to eight. She grimaced at him from behind the menu she held up in front of her face. He could only see her eyes and he loved how they glowered at him, always giving the impression she thought he was up to something. How could he blame her for that when it was what they were both accustomed to?

Especially when he does something out of the ordinary like wanting a romantic date night out. He hated her cooking every day of the year and ordered out constantly. She failed to see how today was any different. He had stopped with the charming antics by the end of their first year together, all the way back when they were sixteen. Now they were just antics, nothing romantic about the suspicion he enjoyed planting in her mind.

Marjorie had long caught on to the fact that if Richard was treating her any kinder than his favorite verbal punching bag, it only meant he wanted something from her. Or to keep something from her. It was always one of the two. She was calmest, most content when he acted like she was an inconvenience - an annoying pet - because of that. At least then she knew he wasn’t trying to pull wool over her eyes as to how he really felt.

“Have you decided what you’re going to get?” Richard asked as he was already handing his menu over to the waitress. His voice sounded as if he was really saying, 'If you haven’t, I don’t really care if you watch me eat alone and starve.' Instead, he said, “Or can’t you read the menu, angel?”

She bit her tongue as hard as she could. Every opportunity that arose to degrade her was an opportunity never missed, then immediately patched with a band aid made of fake compliments or sweet pet-names thereafter. Marjorie truthfully didn’t understand how he was able to convince himself and everyone around them of her apparent stupidity when in reality, she was the one with straight A’s in all of her college classes. Rich was the drop-out with a Chinese delivery job.

No disrespect to college drop outs, Marjorie made a mental note – her disrespect was towards Richard and Richard only.

She didn’t entertain his snide remark and just glanced back down at her menu while he continued, “I’ll have the filet mignon, please. She’ll have the same.”

Marjorie couldn’t help but let out a lofty giggle.

“He means he’ll have the filet de bœuf,” she told the waitress. Richard’s mouth was already open to protest when Marjorie went on, “You don’t like pork. We’re at a French restaurant – filet mignon would be pork tenderloin here.”

She folded her menu closed and gave it over to the waitress, who looked as if she was in the middle of an argument but couldn’t decipher if it was hostile enough to be considered as such.

Marjorie smiled softly at Richard, then up at the waitress. “He was right about me having the filet mignon though. Thank you!” She chimed as the waitress more or less sprinted away.

She heard Richard snort and redirected her attention to him. He had his thumb and pointer finger pinching the stem of his wine glass, rotating it back and forth as he watched her.

“You know me so well,” He drawled, his other hand reaching into his pocket. He didn’t sound convincing nor convinced himself. She snorted back at him before downing her soda like it was bourbon after getting fired or divorced.

“As if,” were her only words when she came back up for air. He was still staring. She couldn’t bring herself to look at him, so her eyes went down. And there, on the red linen tablecloth, view barely obstructed by the lit candle between them, was his other hand gently encapsulating something. The flame danced erratically, its shadow swinging back and forth on his pale skin. He pulled back his arm.

A little ring box sat on the tabletop. She sucked in as much air could fit into her lungs, then she held it there until her head became fuzzy. She focused in on his arm instead of the box and hoped for her face to go as blue as his veins.
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here we go folks it's all downhill from here