Same story. Two different takes. He wrote one. I wrote the other.
A gripping feeling of helplessness overtook him. Being of an essentially placid nature, he had always felt rather overwhelmed by her. He shook his head, as if to physically shake off the thoughts that pulled him in different directions. It was wrong of her to ask it, he felt. Resented, in fact, her gaze, waiting for an answer. Assent was not possible, not like this. Maybe she knew, and was joking. Intense unease stupefied him, and he looked at her dumbly.
He remembered how he first met her, this sister of a friend. Her too big eyes, solemn, always seeming to look right into your innermost thoughts. He remembered overhearing his father remarking to hers that she was a grenade, not a bouncing ball, and now understood what they meant.
"Mmmm… I think I am late for my class" , he said, and knew even as he said it that it was lame. She exploded, pushing him to the floor with a force he could scarcely believe came from her. "Why did you have to think so much to say no ?" she screamed, and stamped on his hand as she stormed off.
When they next met, he was 34 and had a 4 year old daughter in tow. Your age then, he laughed, and she joined him. Then she looked at him, and he knew that she knew.
That he often wondered.
A long ago proposal
How old were we then? 3 or 4? Let's say, I was three. You were a year older. I asked you to marry me. And you said no. Why? Because you had to go to school the next day or something. And then I got really angry with you, you say, and pushed you to the ground. Stamping on your hand as I stormed off. And now we meet, nearly three decades later. Quite by chance. You with your daughter in tow. Me, hoping that you don't notice my greys. We smile, exchange polite hellos and enquire about each other's welfare. But why are you looking at me like that for? I've forgiven you. Honestly. It doesn't bother me that you turned down my offer. Unless you haven't. And the way you wrinkle your forehead and crinkle your eyes into tiny slits, I can tell that you are still wondering. Thirty years on.