Excerpt from "Because of Love"
by Kyus Philnesta
Kyle LeCole Mackey stared at the phone and the small velvet box sitting next to it. He was excited yet scared, ready yet unprepared. He had thought long and hard about his decision. He wanted this to be the biggest surprise sheíd gotten from him-from anyone. That is why he planned it so carefully. He didnít want the occasion to be associated with any of the holidays or her birthday. It would be their special day-- the day he asked Simone Nicole Banister to marry him. Kyle always felt the similarity in their middle name was not a coincidence, but rather fate. They were truly meant to be.
Kyle opened the box and took the ring out to look at it again. He had purchased the one carat, emerald-cut diamond ring surrounded by rubies from J.R. Dunn Jewelers. Kyle wanted to give her the best, because she gave her best to him. He wished he could have afforded another carat, but just hoped she would be pleased nonetheless.
After years of dating, he and Simone were enraptured with each other. Sure, things had been strange between them lately, but not enough to cause concern. They had a mighty love; the kind songs on the Quiet Storm were written about. However, he did have cause to reflect. Lately she had become distant and withdrawn; he had begun to wonder if he was losing her. Kyle assured himself that she was simply tired of waiting for his proposal. Just a couple of months before they once again entertained the thought of marriage, but Kyle did nothing at the time. And now. . . Well, Kyle simply prayed that this would make the difference.
Kyle had decided he would call Simone to say he would not be by this evening as planned, hoping it would not lead to another argument. He heard the prerecorded message from the phone operator say "if you would like to make a call, please hang up and try your call again." He didnít realize he had been holding the telephone that long. He was deeply lost in thought. He dialed Simone and waited anxiously for her to pick up.
"Hey babe, itís me."
"Hey honey. Youíre on your way?"
"Well, thatís why Iím calling. Something came up. I wonít be able to come by this evening as planned. I hope thatís okay."
"Yeah, thatís fine. Is everything alright?"
"Sure, sure. Wait; hold on a minute, I think I hear someone at the door." Kyle pretended he heard a knock and laid the phone down. He picked the phone back up and told Simone that he would call her right back. He was hoping that would keep her home until he arrived at her place, just in case she decided to go out.
He glanced once again with pride at the engagement ring before putting it back in the jewelry box. He placed the small box inside a much larger 13-in color T.V. box heíd picked up from an electronics store to help conceal his intentions and to add confusion to the surprise. He placed the ring box in the middle of the styrofoam pellets and shook the box to mix everything up. She was going to have to dig deep for this, he thought, with a devilish smile on his face.
He took one more look at himself in the mirror and was pleased with what he saw. He wore a pair of black Calvin Klein jeans with a black long sleeve turtleneck. His Movado watch and diamond stud earring were all in tact. Kyle had picked up a few tips on dressing from hanging out with his boy, Tony. He patted his back pocket and pulled out the letter he was going to read to Simone. He wrote everything on paper, just in case he got too nervous. The letter said how much he loved her and why he had chosen that particular ring. Satisfied with his reflection, he picked up the dozen red roses and the bottle of Moet he had gotten for the occasion and headed out the door.
Kyle made his way onto the Palmetto Expressway, heading east to Simoneís place in North Miami Beach. He was there in less than twenty minutes. Kyle grumbled to himself as he struggled to carry the box, roses, and champagne up the stairs to her apartment. He wished now that he had put the champagne and roses in a bag with a handle. He guessed he was too excited to think of that. When he reached the door, he called her from his cell phone.
"Hello," she said, her voice in a whisper, the whisper Kyle fell in love with long before he fell in love with her.
"Hey honey, were you busy?"
"No, I was just lying down."
"Youíre feeling okay? Itís kind of early for you to be in bed." Kyle glanced at his watch; it was just past six.
"Iím all right. Where are you? It sounds like youíre on your cell phone."
"I am on my cell. Matter of fact, Iím on my cell outside your front door. You wanna let a brother in out of the cold?"
"What are you doing here?" Simoneís tone abruptly changed. "I thought you said you werenít coming over tonight."
"Well, if you get up and open the door, youíll see why Iím here."
Simone sighed. "Iíll be right there, Kyle." Oblivious to her demeanor, Kyle smiled and slipped his phone back into his pocket. A few seconds later, he heard movement behind the door. This was his cue to get his props together. By now she would have already looked through the peephole to make sure it was him. As a cop, Kyle taught her to always do that. He picked up the T.V. box, as if it was unbearably heavy and waited patiently for her to unlock the door. Simone opened the door, and he rushed in to put the box down on the floor next to the coffee table. He knew by the way she was dressed in her nightclothes that she really wasnít expecting him. This made his surprise that much better. Even dressed in her gold colored robe with matching slippers and with her hair pulled back into a ponytail, she was still a beautiful sight.
Before she could say anything, Kyle went back outside for the roses and champagne. It didnít take her long though before she started with the questions.
"Whatís going on, Kyle? Whatís all this and whatís in that box? Is that a T.V.? You know I donít need another T.V. Where am I going to put it?" The words flowed from her lips with ease.
"Questions, questions, questions. Always full of questions." He walked back into the apartment carrying the rest of the items. Kyle really found pleasure in surprising Simone, thinking back to their impromptu ski trip to Colorado. That was the first time he uttered the words "I love you." He meant it then and especially now.
"Kyle, whatís going on, really?" Simone asked with a twinge of frustration in her voice as she closed the door.
"I have something for you." He handed her the roses and held up the bottle of champagne.
"Whatís this about?"
She was irritated, but Kyle quietly dismissed it. He simply thought it was because he had come over after saying he wasnít. However, tonight was a special night. Tonight it will be worth the unannounced visit, sheíll see.
"Can I change my mind about coming to see the woman I love? You know how I love to surprise you, Simone, and tonight I have one. So why donít you put those beautiful flowers in a vase and get two glassed for this here champagne."
Simone complied and minutes later came back to the living room with two crystal flutes. Kyle led her to the sofa where she placed them on the coffee table. He popped the cork and filled both flutes. He sat there for a moment, admiring her beauty. Simone was a healthy woman and knew how to carry her weight with grace and ease. She was short and round all over; his cuddle bunny is what he called her. Winter nights were always warmer with Simone. Her eyes were the color of a freshly mowed blade of grass with the morning dew still on them. The slant of her eyes was just enough to make you question her heritage. Kyle was a little nervous and it showed in his movements. He stood up and walked around mindlessly before sitting back down again next to Simone.
He took a deep breath and began. "Lately... well, you know... lately things have been a little tensed between us. But that was a good thing. It made me look at our relationship and where it was headed. I know we talked about getting married, but we never really made a decision. Well, I donít want to talk about it anymore, Simone." Kyle paused, before he blurted out, "I want to do it. Letís get married."
Kyleís excitement was unmatched by Simone. His heart sunk deep within his chest. She sat there silent, looking down at her feet, twirling her bathrobe belt. Kyle sat there watching her face, but she revealed no facial expressions.
"Thereís something inside here for you." Kyle nervously picked up the box, handing it to her. "You have to dig deep, though."
Simone lifted her head just enough to see the box. She stopped fumbling with her belt and reached to take the box out of Kyleís hand. Stunned at the weight, or lack thereof, of the box she began to open it.
Whatís happening? This isnít going according to plans. Whereís the excitement? Kyle surely didnít see it. Not in her face, not in her eyes that she managed to keep hidden from him, not in her movement. His heart had now moved to the pit of his stomach. She finally found the emerald green velvet box hidden among the foam and held it in her hands.
Kyle was baffled. "Arenít you going to open it?"
Simone sat there motionless, as if she was trying to decide whether to cut the blue or the red wire on a bomb with only seconds left before it explodes. Finally after what seemed like an eon to Kyle, she opened the box. Her next movement was to close the box that held the ring he so desperately wanted to place on her finger.
Kyle reached into his back pocket and pulled out the letter. "Simone, I--".
"Kyle", Simone cut him off, "Kyle, I...I canít... marry... you", Then she paused as if there would be more to say, but only she didnít say it.
"Simone, honey, I donít understand. Kyle sputtered. "What do you mean you canít marry me? I thought this was what you wanted, what we both wanted. Talk to me, Simone. Please." Kyle felt his face heating up and he knew he was getting angry.
"I canít marry you, Kyle. I canít marry you because, because--"
"Because what?" Kyle implored, this time cutting her off.
"Because I donít love you, Kyle. Iíve never loved you".
For the first time this evening, she looked at him. He saw her eyes; they werenít lying. Not knowing how to respond to what sheíd said, Kyle picked up both glasses of champagne and gulped them down. He got up and started walking around the living room. He was in a daze at first. He couldnít say anything. So much was going through his mind. He didnít want to believe the woman he had spent almost three years dating had just told him she never loved him. He was dreaming; he had to be. This just couldnít be happening. Eventually, he would wake up and realize that all this was just a bad nightmare. Yeah, he dreamed all this up. The silence was broken and Kyle was knocked back into reality when Simone spoke.
"Kyle, I donít want to do anything to hurt you. Iíve wanted to break things off for some time now. Iím just sorry I didnít do it before tonight. I know we talked about marriage, and to be honest, I thought I could do it. I thought I could learn to love you. I finally realized that it was my desire to get married that I confused with love. The way you treated me, spoiled me, and made me feel like a queen-- I mixed it all up with being in love.
Simone looked down at the box in her hand. "Youíre a good man, Kyle. Youíre just not the man for me. Iím sorry. Iím, sorry it turned out this way."
It? Our relationship had dwindled down to "it"? Kyle thought. "So, weíre over? Just like that?" Kyleís voice softened as he asked, "Is it that easy for you, Simone?" Is it?"
Simone sighed. "Yes, Kyle, it is." She stood and walked toward him. "Would you please leave?" She held out the engagement ring and all the rejection that went along with it. "Iíll come by tomorrow to pick up my things. f youíre there, Iíll leave your keys with you. If not, Iíll drop them in the mail."
"No! I wonít leave, Simone! Not without an explanation. Is there someone else, another man? There has to be. Thatís the only thing that would make sense!"
"Kyle, donít do this to yourself and donít do it to me. Iíve given you the best reason any woman could give for not marrying someone. If you canít accept that Kyle, then Iím sorry."
"I donít believe you. I couldnít have been this wrong. Have you been lying all this time, Simone?" Hurt was in his voice. He heard it and he knew she did too. At this point, he didnít care.
"You were wrong, Kyle. Now leave, please." Determined, she still held out the ring to him. He reached over, grabbed it out of her hand, and headed for the front door. He stood there unable to open it. His hands were on the doorknob, but he couldnít turn it. He looked down and took in the color of his clothes-- black, how appropriate, the color of mourning.
Kyle turned around to say something; he didnít know what, just anything. However, it didnít make a difference. Simone had quietly stepped out of the room and went inside her bedroom, gingerly closing the door.
"Damn! How long have I been standing here"? Then he too, quietly slipped out the door and left.