Short story: “Totally Engaged”

I was walking home from Panera in Hoboken, checking my voicemail, etc., etc., just doing some hum-drum things and thinking about my taxes and high school physics when this popped into my head.

I’ll also be bold and say that the characters in this story are not totally imaginary.

Again, a ton of little references to my friends’ lives as presents to them.

P.S. Thinking of a title for this one was tough. If anyone has any better ideas, please tell me.

Totally Engaged

It finally happened. I met someone who I can imagine myself marrying.

No, even better, someone I can imagine myself being married to. Like, driving the kids to school together, reserving date nights, wondering how we’re gonna pay our bills while we drink fresh orange juice in the morning. The whole nine yards.

I’ve got the entire thing in my head, actually. I can see us deciding on a whim to head out to the nearest chapel, to take a plane to that elusive Somewhere where we have always wanted to go. I can see him looking at me with this look in his eyes that says, “Ahhh, I can’t believe we’re really doing this! I’m so excited!” hidden behind a facial expression that says, “So, we’re here. We’re doing it. This is it. Pretty cool, huh?” I can even see his face on the pillow next to me as I roll over in the morning and say, “Hello, new husband. Here we are. Last night was awesome. Guess we don’t qualify for annulment anymore, do we? At least in some circles.”

In high school we had this one physics teacher, Mr. Reginald Edmonds. If I were a liar, I’d say he’s a pretty cool guy. But I’m an honest person so I’ll come right out and say that he is probably the perfect embodiment of every heroic male archetype. He can be a knight in shining armor, the good cowboy, the ace spaceship pilot. Basically, he’s suitable for any role played by Harrison Ford – Indiana Jones, Han Solo – they are all characters Edmonds could play perfectly.

Well, I absolutely adore Mr. Edmonds but someone like that would be way too perfect for me.

This man is just attractive enough. Just smart enough. Just talented enough. He wasn’t ordinary, though. Not at all. He was extraordinary but he was just human enough to be real.

(I couldn’t love a Dream Man, I think, because I’d always be too worried that our love was imaginary and that he might be imaginary, too.)

So yeah, this guy is amazing.

He calls me and tells me all about how tired he is and how his feet, shoulders and funny bone all hurt but makes it clear that whatever I need help with, he’ll be there for me anyway. He looks over at me with the sneakiest smiles and without saying anything, he’ll say everything. He catches my eye with a quick wink when no one else is looking – but don’t worry, he’s not one of those sleazy winkers. He’s one of those really cute winkers.

I totally dig all of him. The way he doesn’t look his age, the way he moves, the way he looks when he’s thinking.

Every time I’m with him, it’s is the BEST TIME EVER, no matter what we’re doing. We could be sticking labels on food jars or something that would ordinarily be quite boring like that and have a ton of fun doing it. That sounds like something someone totally in love would say, but it’s not, it’s not at all – I’d say that no matter how I felt about him because it’s just plain true. Even before I thought of this whole “Wow, he’d be great to marry” thing, he was always one of my favorite people to be with.

Sometimes when we’re meeting up and I see him coming I start smiling like crazy on the inside and have to mentally yell at myself so I don’t start looking all crazy on the outside, too. I think, “You’re being ridiculous. You haven’t even said a word to him all day besides, ‘Yeah, let’s meet up,’ or, ‘I’m here at the station now, pick me up.’ Why are you smiling already?” But really it’s because I know I’m going to end up being unimaginably elated. Sometimes I just let myself smile and show my hand – here, here you are. You make me smile. Are you happy?

When I’m feeling really crazy, I’ll run towards him. I always imagine leaping into his arms when I do that but I think I’d knock him over with the full force of my excitement so I usually don’t try the whole leaping thing anyway.

We smile light, sweet smiles. And then we say, “Hi,” and, “Hi.” As in, “Wow, I’m really glad to see you. Are you ready for the BEST TIME EVER?” “Yeah, I am!”

Then we say, “How are you?” and “Fine, how are you?” As in, “Are you sure you’re ready? Because this is going to be really intense. Like, really. We’re going to have a great time.” “I’m totally ready. Take off your clothes.”

And then he replies, “I’m good, can’t complain,” and I say, “That’s good.” As in, “Whoa, did you really just say that?” “Ahh, I’m sorry. I’ll be patient. I’m a good girl. I just almost can’t help myself.”

And I really can’t. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who is more beautiful than he is.

Plus, he tickles me. We just jive.

But he’s not perfect. Don’t say I lied, because I didn’t. I just said that he’s the first person I can imagine marrying. The first person I could imagine filing taxes with. The first person who I think I’d have really cute children with – and I usually don’t even bother thinking about domestic or familial things like that.

There’s just one thing wrong with him. Well, he’s not perfect enough that there’s only one thing wrong with him, but there’s one main thing that prevents me from trusting him to make all my dreams come true.

I can handle bad teeth, I can handle bad habits like smoking and drinking too much (as long as he promises to quit soon and follows through on that vow), I can handle a man who wears an eye mask to bed, I can handle a man who replies to my text messages with one-to-two word answers.

But I can’t handle someone who doesn’t want me.

Sometimes when we walk, especially if for some reason we’re walking around the city in the evening, I’ll look over with this dopey smile on my face that I absolutely cannot help and drive myself mad by resisting the urge to scream, “I LOVE YOU.”


And he just looks back with this look like, “I enjoy spending time with you when I’m with you. When I happen to be with you. But don’t expect me to yearn to be with you. Or go out of my way to be with you. Or long for you. But don’t get me wrong, this is really pleasant.”

I mean, what do you say to that?

At the end of the BEST TIME EVER, he’ll take me back to the station and see me off and we’ll say, “Wow, this has been really great,” and “Yeah, it has.” As in, “I’m sorry that this moment is ending,” and, “Well, I’m sorry too but I’ll be okay.”

Followed by, “We should do this again,” and, “Oh, yeah, yeah. This was fun.” As in, “No, I don’t think you understand. I’m really, really sorry this moment is ending,” and, “Oh, yeah. Yeah. What a shame.”

Lastly, “…I’ll call you?” and “I think that’s your train coming.”

That means exactly what it sounds like.

As I walk up the stairs and head towards the platform, I can almost hear his thoughts.

He can see us deciding on a whim to head out to the nearest chapel, to take a plane to that elusive Somewhere where we have always wanted to go. He can see me looking at him with this look in my eyes that says, “Ahhh, I can’t believe we’re really doing this! I’m so excited!” with the sheer delight plain on my face. He can see my face on the pillow next to him as he rolls over in the morning and I say, “Hello, new husband. Here we are.”

I can see him saying, “Last night was a mistake. I need a divorce.”


About Summer Dawn Hortillosa

Summer Dawn Hortillosa is a journalist specializing in arts and entertainment. Among other things, she is also an award-winning playwright, director, singer-songwriter and actress. Her work has been seen in The Jersey City Independent, The Jersey Journal and other publications.
This entry was posted in Fiction, Prose, Short Stories. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Short story: “Totally Engaged”

  1. Mark says:

    Very nice. The article too.

  2. Pingback: New pages for the Dwyers and ‘Cake Boss,’ looking for art to go with my stories! | summerization

  3. Ouch. It’s only temporary hurt though. There is always better, dear character.

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