Engagement Forest

1034 words

Ah, my favorite night of the year, Christmas Eve. The snow dances in the air lazily, melting as it lands upon my face. It’s dark and glittery outside and the trees surrounding us wear the snowflakes like a formal gown, such an idyllic scene. I sit and let my five senses run free, always unnoticed as couples pass my hiding spot. The news named the vast, barely touched patch of land “Engagement Forest” but the real name is Theodore Roberts Park, after one of our local founders of the same name. It’s the perfect spot for an engagement, smothered in the lush and private interior, completely excluding the dog walkers, dads on weekend custody at the playground, and that group of stay-at-home moms who meet every morning after dropping little Kayden or Kaiden or Kaedynn at school. Nobody even knows when and if you arrive and depart. The irony is that no one local goes into the woods for a proposal; we know it’s bad luck.

Engagement Forest is often visited by people in neighboring counties and states;. The groom books a weekend at our quaint little Victorian Bed and Breakfast, always requesting the ‘haunted room.’ They spend a romantic couple of days basking in each other and dude pops that question. Sometimes they have someone hidden with a camera to capture the proposal, so they can share this intimate and personal moment with their parents and exes online. I like the ones who choose a traditional route, zero paparazzi. Then come the tears, ring pictures, kissing. Once after a successful proposal, I got to watch a couple likely create their first child in a pile of brush near the clearing.


I love those, where you can just tell how in love they are. When the tears are authentic, as the Instagrammers like to say, and the partner is extremely verklempt and collapses into the arms of their love, I cry with them. True love is just so beautiful, everyone deserves to experience love in our lifetime. Women make for a hilarious receiver of proposals, maybe why I prefer the company of men. Sometimes you catch the poor guy dropping to a knee and the betrothed puts on her best act; mini jazz hands fluttering around a mouth frozen in an “Oh” face. You can almost hear me roll my eyes. I can always tell if they’re faking. I can see their eyes darting around, looking for a cameraman. I hate them. They make me so angry. The ones I hate the most, though, are the ones who say no.

It doesn’t happen often, thank God. Christmas is usually immune to a polite decline, just like Valentine’s Day weekend. Independence Day and oddly enough, Thanksgiving receive a higher ratio of matrimonial refusal. Everyone seems a lot more drunk on those holidays. To be honest, since I started proposal watching, (that’s what I call it) for some time, and to my knowledge, I’ve only seen one person hand back their ring, the only local couple to attempt the romanticism of “Engagement Forest.” Of course, it was shared online, and of course, the entire town decided the magic only belonged to tourists, and proposals were limited to by the Christmas tree, or maybe on Granddaddy’s land. Everybody’s Granddaddy has land. I bet that poor guy wishes he used his Granddaddy’s land, maybe he wouldn’t be the name behind the legend.

My thoughts are interrupted by a soft giggle followed by a pretend shocked, “Ry-an!” I watch from my space to see a young couple approaching, hand in hand. The smell of cannabis greets me as Ryan walked ahead of his lady and stopped to “tie his shoe.” It was so obvious that she knew what he was doing. Her eyes welled with tears as she stopped in her tracks.

“Ryan.” She started, reaching her hand out to lift him from his knees.

“Ryan, I’m so sorry. I love you. I do, you know I do!” She spoke quickly like she was afraid she wouldn’t get it all out in time. His brow furrowed as he stood.

“Lakyn, what do you mean? I thought you wanted this! When you said, ‘we need to talk, I thought..” She interrupted him. I hate being interrupted.

“You thought, Ryan. You never asked, and that’s why we have a problem. You know the job in Europe was on the table, and I’m gonna take it. It’s a chance of a lifetime, Ryan. I’m sorry. Why are you proposing here, anyway?” She waved around her.

“Everyone knows the legend of Tobias and Dennis, where Dennis says no to Tobias and Dennis disappeared without a trace. Everyone who says no to a proposal here…” She stopped as their eyes met.

Ryan nodded and smiled bitterly, appearing impassive. ”Yes, Lakyn. Everyone who says no to a proposal here disappears.” He closed the gap between them.

“So, why did you say no?” His question hung in the air and Lakyn appeared uncomfortable. Her eyes widen when she realizes that she wouldn’t be leaving ol’ Teddy Bob’s park.

That’s my cue. They all know that asking ‘why?’ is my invitation to join the failed engagement party. That’s why they come here; they come for a clean break, they come to make sure they don’t end up in another’s arms. I step out from my hiding space and Lakyn stares at me, her face frozen in terror. She can’t even scream. I watch her struggle to find her voice while my hands circle her neck.

“Tobias Davis, congratulations on your recent engagement.”

It’s the last thing they hear, and the last time they’ll disappoint another lover.

 Ryan turned to leave and tips his hat to me after handing me an envelope. I slid it into my pocket and looked down at the Christmas corpse lying at my feet. She makes number five. Behind me, Ryan strolled away, whistling the carol to himself “Twelve Days of Christmas” and damned if it didn’t get stuck in my head. As I drag her to her final grave, I caught myself singing, “On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me.”

I’m a sucker for the holidays.

December 22, 2020 21:53

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21:49 Dec 30, 2020

Very clever take on the theme. You have a very engaging voice. Well done. Looking forward to reading more from you.


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Beth Connor
18:12 Dec 28, 2020

Oh my goodness, I did not see that coming. Great writing!


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