(WP) Simple Courtesy

(WP) Simple Courtesy

               I got
engaged to be married to a wyvern by holding the door for him.

               I didn’t
think anything of it; I was only being polite. We both worked at the same
bookstore, and we happened to both be returning from our break, and he was
behind me, so I just held the door open.

               He
beamed at me; his eyes dewy with something that I couldn’t understand.

               “Patrick,
you’re too kind! We’ll have to tell our parents, you know. Wyvern-human
marriage is generally frowned upon in my culture.”

               I
stared at him, frowning. “Marriage? What are you talking about, Dalton?”

               “You
held the door for me, Patrick!” He answered as if this was obvious. “In my
culture, showing someone specific kindness, such as you just did for me, shows
the other person that you wish to be married!”

               There
was that word, again. Marriage. I didn’t even know if I wanted to get married,
and now here I was, engaged to a wyvern. For opening the door.

               “Uh,
that’s not what I meant,” I said hurriedly, damning the bright flush that was
climbing up my neck and flooding my cheeks. “I was only being polite!”

               But it
was too late to backpedal, and I found myself making a date to have dinner with
Dalton and his parents. My stomach had quickly tightened into knots, and nausea
was quickly roiling my stomach. How had this happened?

               **

               When I
returned home, I told my parents the situation, feeling embarrassed all over
again.

               My dad,
who’d been folding laundry in the living room, looked at me, brow furrowed. But
his eyes crinkled up at the corners, the corners of his mouth turned upward as
if fighting a laugh.

               My
mother was sitting with a cup of coffee on the couch, frowning thoughtfully.

               “But
surely you can say that this is all a misunderstanding,” She said, taking a sip
of her drink. “I’m sure once you explain, it’ll be a laugh, and then we can
move on with our lives. Besides, we’ve been long overdue for a night out. We
need to make a good impression on our future in-laws.” She dropped a wink, and
my embarrassed “Mom!” was drowned out by my parents’ laughter.

               **

               We met
with Dalton and his parents in a fancy restaurant on the outside of town. We
were all dressed nicely: I wore my finest suit, though it was too small and
parts of my wrists showed; Mom had donned a silk gray sheath dress and a little
tiny bag to match, with heels and my dad wore the tux he’d worn to his own
wedding to my mother, fifteen years before.

               But no
matter how nice we looked, my heart wouldn’t stop pounding, and sweat formed on
the back of my neck, my forehead, the small of my back. The restaurant wasn’t
even warm, but I couldn’t stay still. I had to get out of this, or I was going
to be married to a wyvern.

**