News of the Engagement


Yes, there’s another novel in the works. THE SUITOR is about a recent college grad who falls in love with a charming schemer, leading to her father attempting to prevent the marriage. Sticky situation, right? In this scene, Anna breaks the news of her engagement on a visit to her parents. It doesn’t go according to plan.

“How is Kyle?” Deb asked. “I’m sorry he couldn’t make the trip today. It sounds like you two are spending a lot of time together.”

She was about to say, Actually, Mom, we’ve been living together. But what would be the point of explaining that tidbit when what mattered, what was really significant, was the bigger reveal? And then, just as if she’d pushed an internal launch button, the words shot out of her, like a rocket toward the stars.

“Kyle and I are getting married!”

It thrilled her to say those words. She’d have to apologize to Kyle later.

She waited for her parents to shout with joy. For hugs! For congratulations! But a vacuum of silence ensued. Anna had rendered her parents speechless—mouths open but faces as frozen as a photograph, the camera having caught them with zombie stares.

She immediately began to fill the void. “It’s what I really want. What we want,” she amended, singular to plural. “I’ve never known anyone like Kyle and I’ve never felt this way before. I’m so happy. I had no idea I could feel this way.”

Why wasn’t her mother jumping up and hugging her? Her mother had once told her, during a heartache moment when Anna needed to be told, that someday she would meet the person she would love forever. Now, Anna had just said to her mom: Mom, I’ve found that person. And she wanted the outpouring of love from her mother, her embrace, the shared triumph and affirmation that Deb had been right all along about her daughter, because she worried about Anna, both her parents did, they wanted Anna to be happy and safe.

Finally, facial muscles began to thaw for Art and Deb, tiny tremors appearing in the flesh.

Anna still didn’t get it. “I know this is sudden and must come as a surprise to you, but Kyle and I, we’re really sure.”

She thought about how Kyle had told her he practiced what to say ahead of time—in work situations, in social situations, in any situation where he needed to be prepared—and how she’d laughed at him and thought it was kind of stiff, but now she could see why rehearsing might be helpful. She was confused, and at a loss for how to continue.

Her father’s nostrils twitched, his chest rose and fell with each controlled breath. Deb sat straighter, flattening her torso against the back of her chair.

Her mother waded in first, jaw unhinging, words following.

“You’re right, Anna, this is a surprise. Not just a surprise—a shock.”

“A wonderful shock,” Anna suggested. “I’ve found the love of my life and we’re getting married in three weeks.”

“Three weeks!”

Anna nodded her head up and down. Ecstatic. Up down up down up down. The corners of her smile hurt. Can you believe it! Don’t you get it!

“Hold on a sec,” Art said, raising his hand, as if to put a halt to Anna’s inane head-bobbing, to negate wherever this conversation was heading and whatever Anna was planning to do.

“Are you pregnant?” Deb jumped in. “Is that what’s happened?”

“Mom, I’m not pregnant.”

“Because if you are, there are better ways to deal with that situation.”

“I told you I’m not pregnant.”

“Well, did you stop taking your medication?”

“What medi—? You’re not listening to what I’m telling you. Kyle and I are getting married.”

“Mom asked if you’ve stopped taking your medication,” Art said. “Let’s start with that.”

“Do you think you should see Dr. Carney again?” Deb asked.

“Stop! Please! I don’t need to see a doctor.”

“You don’t have to yell, we’re just trying to understand.”

Dr. Carney was the psychiatrist who’d originally written Anna her prescription, but that was last fall, after the shooting and her split with Brendan. She’d taken the medication for a while, and then stopped on her own, not sure when, because the stopping happened by forgetting some days to take her dosage, which meant she no longer needed the medication, and now she used it only recreationally.

“Anna, are you using other drugs?” Deb asked.

She opened her mouth to take offense, but instead, she began to cry. She didn’t expect to be attacked; she expected champagne.

“I’m sorry, but we have a right to ask that question. If you are, you have to tell us.”

Anna shook her head. She blew her nose into her napkin and tried to settle herself with deep breaths.

Deb said, “Why would you get married in three weeks? It’s such a huge decision with enormous consequences. Why be in such a rush with so much at stake?”

“We’re not in a rush. We’re in love.”

By David Klein

David Klein

Published novelist, creative writer, journalist, avid reader, discriminating screen watcher.


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