Awhile back, Lindsey posted some prompt-sentences for short stories and I called dibbs on this one. I forgot about it until last night.
Caitlin had kept her eyes closed for ten seconds, just like Dr. Smoltz had told her to, but when she opened them, it was still there, looking at her and not blinking.
Not that she expected her kindly therapist's advice for anxiety to work for this. Sometimes she stressed herself into small panic attacks, and she found that, usually, if she closed her eyes and took deep breaths for ten seconds, the panic would disappear and she could then set about rationally resolving a given issue.
But no amount of deep breathing was going to make that ring just disappear. Indeed, there it sat, on her dresser where Alfred had lain it and walked out when she was unable to say "yes".
She looked at it, dazed. A diamond flanked by two sapphires. She had to admit its beauty, but over the past few hours, it had begun to look froggish to her. Those sapphires looked like patient, wide-set eyes, silently wheedling for an answer. They stared at her, glittering and unblinking. Accusing? No. Just patient and expectant, like Alfred himself. He wouldn't force an answer from her, she knew. He would be sweet and supportive, through "whatever process you need to go through," he had said. And that was the biggest problem, wasn't it? What she couldn't explain, what had made her throat tighten up and refuse to cough out some kind of answer. His unflappable patience. He never got angry with her, never set his foot down. Here, he had presented her with a gorgeous engagement ring, a family heirloom. When she stalled and stammered, he just looked at her with that sweetness and nodded, asked her to think it over, and quietly left. If he had looked hurt, or slammed the door in anger, she probably would have gone after him and told him she'd marry him. But he didn't, so she didn't. Her reaction had been pure, classic Caitlin bull. And he hadn't called her out on it. Maybe he was at home now, banging things around and swearing at the cat, having genuine human emotions. But if he was, she didn't know it. And probably never would. Her eyes wandered over to the ring again and locked with the dark blue eyes already staring at her.
Taking another deep breath, she picked up her phone. Alfred deserved an answer.