- Do you love me, Ron?
- Yes, Marcia. And I will love you till the end of time.
Ron was looking ahead on the road and Marcia was looking at him. It was raining heavily and the newlyweds were heading towards their new house on the outskirts of the city. Ron was driving with difficulty because, although the wipers were moving on the windshield at full speed, it wasn’t easy to see clearly.
Marcia trusted Ron. He was an excellent driver, careful and patient. She also had a driving license, but preferred to give Ron the wheel when they were together in the car. He was focused on his driving but she felt like chatting away.
- I’m so tired, Ron. I couldn’t sleep a wink last night, I was so tense.
- You’ll have plenty of time to rest when we get home, darling.
- And the people! Did you expect all these people to come to our wedding and reception?
- I was surprised too, darling.
- I can’t wait to get into our new house and lie on the couch.
- I can understand, darling.
The rain kept falling in torrents, with occasional thunders and lightening. The road was slippery and the small car almost slid on it. Ron held the wheel tightly and remained calm. He had checked the weather forecast in the morning: “scattered showers,” it said. “That rain was out of the ordinary,” thought Ron and remained focused, trying to see through the blurred windshield. In the meantime, Marcia continued her chit-chat about this, that and the other.
- Ron, I want two children, a boy and a girl. We will name the girl Aurora and the boy Hermes. Don’t you think they are decent names for our children?
- Yes, of course I do.
- They will grow up in our detached house, and go to uni. Aurora will study teaching like me and Hermes will study Law like you.
- That’s wonderful, darling.
- Then Aurora and Hermes…..
Ron found it difficult to concentrate on Marcia’s words about the future and their home and children. What he needed more that anything was a hot cup of tea in the rocking chair by the fireplace, with warm clothes and socks. He needed to stare at the fire, see the sparks spread like fireworks, hear the logs explode. He needed some time alone, to enjoy these moments by the fireplace. All he needed was some peace and quiet. But Marcia kept talking and talking, jumping from one topic to another without even asking for his opinion most of the times. Occasionally, he would nod in agreement, or he would mutter “mmm” or “that’s right” under his breath. The truth was that he hadn’t heard a single word.
The journey seemed endless. Maybe they should have chosen a place near the city centre and not on the outskirts. They wouldn’t have to drive such a long distance then. But the rent was affordable, and the house big and comfortable, with a garden plus a garage. It seemed an ideal family house. A family. The word sounded so weird in Ron’s ears. Yes, he had proposed Marcia to marry him and yes, he had felt happy when she said “Yes”. But now he felt like a fish out of water. He wasn’t the eligible bachelor any more. He wouldn’t date the girls he liked. The ring on his finger was like a rope round his neck, ready to choke him to death.
- Don’t you agree, Ron?
- Yes, darling. I totally agree with you.
He turned and gave a quick glance at Marcia. She looked so happy, on cloud nine. So certain things will go well. Ron wished he felt her certainty. But all he could feel was butterflies in his stomach and pangs of guilt in his heart.
Then, unexpectedly, as if she knew what he was thinking, Marcia turned and looked at him, and gave him a reassuring smile. But it was already too late. Ron’s feelings were in a complete mess inside his head and heart. Marcia noticed a frown on his forehead, a frown she knew very well. She had seen it again, when Ron had difficult cases, when he wasn’t sure what is right and what is wrong. Marcia stopped chatting and silence fell in the car.
Then Marcia, with a serious voice, a voice that was so unlike her, spoke first.
- What’s the matter, Ron?
- Marcia, I don’t know what to say.
Then, she thought it wiser to change the subject. Happily, she announced:
- Look, Ron, our new house!
They had finally reached their destination. The rain continued to fall, and neither of them dared to go out of the car. Marcia looked for their umbrellas, whereas Ron looked at the ring on his finger. Although it was the most beautiful gold ring he had ever seen, it seemed soulless. Yes, he had made his decision. With very slow moves, he took the ring off.
- Let’s go and see our house, said Marcia with the umbrellas at hand.
- Marcia, I’m so sorry, I know it’s unforgivable but….
Ron handed in his ring. Marcia stood flabbergasted, looking at the ring in her palm and then looking at Ron.
- Please, Ron, not now. Not today. Let’s give this a chance. I’ll be a good wife, I promise Ron. You won’t regret it.
- Marcia, you have to understand that it’s not you, it’s me. What I need right now is more time. Please understand me and, for God’s sake, forgive me.
Ron took his jacked and opened the door of the car. It was still raining mercilessly. He put on his jacket, lifted the collar, and started to walk towards the opposite direction, slowly at first, then as fast as possible. He wasn’t sure it was the right decision. But the rope had disappeared from round his neck and he felt free. Pretty soon his clothes got soaked from the rain but he didn’t mind. Slowly he started to run. It would take him ages to go to the city centre again.