There are so many things wrong with the world, from the government, to the economy, to the pandemic that was currently trying to eliminate half of the world's population, to his neighbor; the sixty nine year old woman who always nagged him when he threw his thrash in her bin, he doesn't get her problem.
All in all, nothing was okay, he hadn't been working for almost three months, it was by grace that he hadn't been kicked out of his house, he doesn't even know how he was going to feed the next month, he had bills pilling up, whenever he saw them, he felt like laughing, the pandemic could stop schools, businesses, shops, banks, every freaking thing but the one thing it couldn't put an end to was his financial burden.
At thirty four, Joe liked to think himself as a knowledgeable man. He believed he had been taught in the school of life, there was nothing that could be thrown at his way that he hadn't seen. When he saw the beautiful ruby ring on eBay, he knew he had to buy it, it was the universe way of pushing him, of telling him it was time. So he did the most sensible thing, he bought it, with a credit card. When the package arrived, he had almost cried, he had never seen anything more beautiful. He wanted to keep it with him forever. He thought about how much he could sell it at a pawn shop, he would name a ridiculously high price and they would take it but no, he needed the ring for something different, something less important but still important.
Joe had called his mother a few hours after getting the ring, he had told her excitedly that he was going to propose, his mother had been hysterical and livid. The sound of glass breaking as he told her made him laugh. He heard his father voice, telling her to be careful. Then his mother shouting over the phone how their son was going to get married to a scarlet lady, his father had laughed and made a remark about him being unapologetically foolish. Joe smiled when he heard his father, he knew that was going to be his words.
He told his mother in straight words that he was going to propose and there was nothing she could do to stop him and his mother had predictably sworn it over her dead body. He had laughed and told her that with the way the virus was spreading, she may probably be dead before he proposed and she had angrily cut off the phone. He didn't mean any disrespect towards his mother, he loved her the most but she couldn't understand him sometimes.
The idea of marriage wasn't one that always pleased him but it didn't annoy him either, he just saw it as one of those things that always happened. He had envision himself getting married at fifty but plans were made to be changed. As the news of the pandemic slowly settled on them, most of his friends had gone home, they claimed it was better to die with your family than to die alone. They were right, only miserable people die alone and he wasn't one of them. Even his sister had travelled all the way from Delta with her family to stay with their parents. He refused to go home, even the thought of dying alone wasn't enough to push him back home.
He had made up his mind, he was going to propose, he didn't care if none of his family members liked her, that his friends thought of her as a rude snub, it didn't matter that on most days he felt like strangling her. She had stuck with him through three miserable years, so it had to count for something. Sometimes he wondered who was more pathetic, him or her.
Everything was ready, there were scented candles; the type that makes you want to throw up but since she liked it, it had to stay, flowers and every other thing she liked that he could afford. He had messaged her to come over, that he had prepared something special. The thought of it almost made him gag, special ?. That was the last thing he would call any of this, it was just a necessity.
The knock on the door distracts him from his thoughts. He opens the door and there she was looking beautiful as always with a little smile on her face. On rare days he wonders how he managed to get her to date him, maybe he was the pathetic one or maybe she was, for settling with him. He leads her inside and watched as her face lights up when she sees the arrangements, she was certainly pleased. He had made a lot of preparation to make this night special, he pulled out her chair, complemented her, told her funny stories, made sure there was a enough wine, he made sure everything was perfect.
The night was far gone. He reaches for the ring in his pockets, it was time but he couldn't do it. She looks happy, her laughter bouncing off the wall. The smile on her face genuine for the first time in a long time and the creases in her face seem to lessen. He feels guilty. Maybe he should have ask how the pandemic was affecting her. He doesn't want want to destroy her happiness. He wants to preserve this moment in a jar. Proposing to her now would be selfish, he shouldn't do something so cruel to her. The night passes them by, she's still happy, he doesn't propose. He would let her have this last moment.
Morning reaches quickly to him, he watches the news. He watches the death toll with fear. He doesn't want to be one of those people who dies alone. He wants to be able to pass his heart to someone else. He wants to leave a legacy behind, even if it was the most tiniest one. Tears threaten to spill from his eyes. He doesn't know why, but he's been thinking of death more these days, maybe it was because of - of what, there was no reason. He doesn't want to be alone. With ease, he prepares breakfast for his sleeping beauty, sets it on a tray and takes it to bed for her. He wakes her up with a kiss, she smiles, he could tell she felt like she was living the dream, as she eats and babbles, he watches.
He needed just a second to paint this picture in his memory. At least years from now, he would have one good memory to pass into his children. He'd tell them of how happy their mother was during his proposal, of how he treated her like an angel and when they ask how things turn sour, he would shrug and lie.
He takes a deep breath, he calls her name, her real name, the one she hates because she thinks it's too formal. He goes on one kneel, he watches as her eyes expand, she knows what is going to happen next, he doesn't need to promise her forever or tell her lies about how he believes she is the most precious thing in the world, he goes straight to the point,
" Will you marry me ?"
She jumps and screams. He puts the ring on her finger. She starts crying, he doesn't know if it's from happiness or because she was having the same thoughts as him. She kisses him and runs to the phone, probably to call her mother and sisters to taunt them on how she was finally getting married. She jumps and exclaims as she speaks.
He can't force himself to be happy. He looks outside the window, the streets were bare. A deadly virus was destroying lives outside and they were inside about to destroy their own lives. At least, they would do it together.