And so it begins…. (fiction)

He sat in a cafe in Rome, moments from the last week looping in his mind. Laughing at dinner in Rome the night before. Racing to the airport the day before. Fighting about the trip the week before. Heaviness weighed on him. She’d asked, demanded really, that he not use the trip to propose.

The moment was perfect last night. They had split a carafe of wine over dinner in a candlelit restaurant. They walked arm in arm through Rome, stopping to kiss on their way back to the hotel. Turning a corner they stumbled upon Trevi fountain. On their list to see today, they were thrilled to happen upon it. With their backs to the fountain, each tossed a coin into the water. It guaranteed their return and he fantasized for a moment that the return would be their honeymoon or an anniversary trip.

The ring-box in his pocket for safe keeping, in case the time seemed right. In case it seemed like she would forget her protests brought on, he thought, by work, home, and family stress.

He dropped to one knee and proposed. In front of the tourists and peddlers. Under the waning moon. A perfect night, nobody could object… except she did. She lost it. She fiercely whispered, “I told you we would not do this here. This was not why we came to Italy.”

She walked away from him, leaving him on the cobblestone. Shell shocked.

How had he misunderstood the night? The perfect dinner, the romance, the connection? For three years they had been together, for the last six months living together…. how could he not propose and how could she walk away… leaving him on one knee.

He followed her back to the hotel and when they arrived in the small room, they fought. Heart broken, but hopeful, the next morning he watched her get into a cab.

The agreement was that they would spend the remaining 8 days apart. He would stick to the original itinerary, she would be alone. She would see him at the airport and then they would decide what to do in San Francisco. All she wanted, she insisted, was a vacation without stress or expectations. She wanted to be with him, but not to plan the rest of their lives. She wanted to make sure that they could survive a trip, the kiss of death to her last relationship.

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