I wrote Chances Are using the prompt from the Writer’s Digest “Your Story” contest in July. To meet the contest guidelines, the story needed to be less than 750 words, and begin with the line “Heads, we get married; tails, we break up.” I haven’t attempted any writing in the romance genre since my first NanoWriMo experience, so it was a departure from my usual work. It wasn’t chosen as a finalist, but I decided to share it here, with some edits.
“Heads, we get married; tails, we break up.”
I’ll never forget Michael’s words the last time he proposed to me.
For his first proposal, he gifted me with a dozen roses, and expressed his desire to love me for eternity while we danced together under a moonlit sky. I turned him down without stopping to consider another answer. Undeterred by my refusal, he began a year long campaign for my hand. Month after month, he would appeal to me on bended knee, face composed and voice serious, with one outstretched hand offering a sparkling diamond engagement ring. Month after month, he rose from his knees and returned the ring to its velvet resting place in the small heart shaped box he carried in his pocket.
Michael never questioned my determination to remain single, being well aware of the prevalence of divorce in my family. Despite his silence, I felt an urge to offer a rationale for my constant no. Not wishing to revisit the pain of childhood hurts, I instead couched my reasoning in a general dismay over society’s high divorce rate.
“Chances are, we’d end up in court fighting over teapots and toasters,” I told him with blunt cruelty.
His final proposal fell on the one year anniversary of the first, but the casual delivery was in stark contrast to his previous efforts. His playful words carried a serious ultimatum. The Proposal Game was drawing to an end, and I wasn’t at all happy with this new twist.
“I can’t believe you’re being so cavalier!” I railed at him, my anger a mask for the pain in my heart. There were a million replies he could have offered, but he said nothing and waited for my decision. His face was unreadable to me. I bit my tongue until it bled before blurting out my answer.
“Okay. Flip it.”
The coin spun in the air, a blurry moon of cold metal. It landed with a soft plunk in his palm. With a deft movement, he flipped it onto the back of his left hand, keeping it covered with his right. Slowly, he moved his hand aside.
It was heads.
Relieved, I burst into tears. He pulled me into his arms and held my trembling frame close. His breath tickled my ear with words that were soft yet insistent.
“Alexandra, you stubborn, willful, hard headed woman, will you marry me?”
“Yes,” I snuffled as I wiped at the mascara running down my face. Tears and makeup stained the faded cotton of his shirt. “I can’t believe you put me through that.”
He kissed the top of my head as I clung to him, still shaking.
I pulled away from him and looked up. “What if it had come up tails?”
“No chance of that happening,” Michael replied. He pressed the coin into my sweaty palm. I flipped it over in my hand. Both sides of the quarter were pressed with a profile of George Washington.
“It’s a novelty coin I bought on ebay,” he said with a smile. “Best ten dollars I ever spent.”