In 2019, a young man jaded from a failed love affair, denounced the gift of love. He looked to the heavens and yelled at the top of his lungs.
“Please,” he began, “don’t try to sell me on this crap any longer. There is no gift of love! It’s merely a trick some rogue hormones play on your brain. It does not exist! There is no regular love, there is no true love, and there certainly isn’t love at first sight!”
As he walked away with tears in his eyes, a crack of thunder shook the earth. Gray clouds moved in over head, and unloaded every last drop of rain they’d absorbed over the last few hours. Summer rain is normally warm, but this rain was as cold as ice. The young man shivered and continued walking, vowing to never give in to his foolish desires again.
After he was almost home, the rains had ceased, and the sky was clear once again. At the corner of Main Street and Fifth Avenue he noticed the little Italian bistro where he had taken his former love on many occasions. Most recently they had gone for their one year anniversary. He had the lasagna, with a side of garlic bread. She ordered an expensive plate of Veal Marsala with a side salad.
He cursed the restaurant and the waiter under his breath. The ambiance was to blame, he thought. That damn waiter had lit candles, and spoke of how they looked like such a wonderful couple. Those incorrect sentiments led to the horrible conclusion that he should propose marriage. And so he did, on that very night. The young man carried the ring with him for two months waiting for a romantic moment. That night seemed perfect.
He continued down 5th Avenue, then made a right at Fiftieth Street. Crown Jewelry was closed for the evening but still had show lights on in the window display. On a velvety black ring display, he saw the ring he had purchased back on sale. Luckily Mr. Fong, the owner of the store, allowed him to do a consignment. Five thousand dollars is a lot of money to most but to him it was financially devastating.
There it was glistening under a perfectly placed spot light. A woman happened by and stood there glaring at the fine piece of jewelry. The young man walked up and began an awkward conversation.
“Hoping someone will buy that for you?” He asked.
She rolls her eyes, smiles, and responds, “Not every woman is looking to get a guy to buy her a ring.”
He shook his head to signify no, and raised his voice a bit, “yeah. Well, eventually if you are to be married, some dummy is going to have to purchase you a ring that he spent thousands of dollars on in order to win your love.”
The woman laughed and then continued laughing. His face turned bright red as she insisted on giggling. He turned around prepared to walk away but she said, “hey don’t leave!”
“I’d rather sit her while you laugh at my expense if that’s all right with you.”
“Look, you came over to talk to me. I’m laughing because you nothing of women. You don’t know me and perhaps I’m gay. What if it’s another woman I’m preparing to marry.”
“Well, is it?” He questioned. His mind danced in circles as the thought of how wrong he may have been becomes a revelation.
“That’s irrelevant, isn’t it? The point is you have not a clue about anything. Obviously, you’ve been hurt. Maybe even destroyed by love! True love has no price tag. This ring in the window means nothing. All a ring does is symbolize love. It is not love itself and certainly doesn’t define it.”
Now, the young man laughs. There it was again, talk of true love. The same ideals which placed the ring in that window, and caused him more pain than he’d ever felt in his life. He spun his head back and forth, then replied, “here we go. True love doesn’t exist. All love is are thoughts and emotions you believe you feel. Brain waves which trick you into thinking you actually have these feelings.”
“Wow. She really messed you up, didn’t she? I take it this is THE ring. The one we are both admiring in this very window. Am I right?”
He brows knit, “yeah, how did you know that.”
“I have an amazing intuition about these things. I know the power of love, and what it can do to someone such as yourself. Remember, without it we are nothing. You speak of brain waves as if we are machines. Having emotions and feelings is one of the most wonderful gifts given to us. I hope one day you can get over this and move on with your life. Its no way to live.”
He couldn’t listen to another word. The young man stormed off and shut his ears to the last few words of encouragement yelled to him. How could she be right? He reached the park just outside his housing complex and saw the bench where it all happened. He sprinted over and kicked it with all his might. A howl of pain oozed from his lips as he hobbled to sit upon the bench. He has injured is foot trying to break the relic which reminded him of that night.
As soon as they came from the restaurant, the little Italian bistro, he recommended they sit in the park to take in the full moon. It was beautiful, and romantic, and the perfect opportunity for him to tell her how he really felt. As she sat upon the wooden table and him the bench, he slyly pulled the ring from his back pocket and babbled. He must have used a thousand cliches, and another thousand I love yous before the courage was built up to actually propose marriage.
She looked at him like a deer in headlights. She fumbled over her words until she arrived at the point. It wasn’t him she loved but his best friend. She’d been trying to find the words for weeks but couldn’t go on with the charade any longer. When she confessed his best friend felt the same – the young man still wouldn’t believe it. He left the park that night without a best friend nor fiancée. The moon still hung in the air for a few days after as a constant reminder of what had occurred.
On the next full moon, which was this night – he would remember everything as if it happened yesterday. He sat in the park for a few more hours cursing love, his ex best friend, and the strange woman who tried to convince him otherwise. Love didn’t love inside his heart anymore and perhaps never would again.
A soft whisper caught his attention. The voice familiar enough. He knew it too well to bother to turn around. The young man stared at the moon and questioned everything that happened that night nearly a month ago.
He spoke to the voice without looking, “I proposed to her here. She was with my best friend. Let me buy her dinner before she finally told me. Did you follow me here?”
“No. I live nearby. Just noticed you sitting here wanted to make sure you were all right. I felt like maybe I was rude earlier.”
He looked down at the woman and said, “no. I was. That’s a really lucky girl.”
“What girl?” She asked.
“The girl you’re dating. Didn’t you say you were gay?”
“I never said that. I said maybe I’m gay. Just trying to make a point. I’m Persephone. Nice to meet you.”
“I’m Justin. That’s a beautiful name. Truly.”
“Thank you. I appreciate that.”
They sat and talked all night long under the soft light of the moon. He walked her home to make sure she was safe. As he walked home with a smile on his face, a crack of thunder shook the earth. Gray clouds moved in overhead, and released rains even heavier than before. This time it was warm, and he slowed his pace enjoying the last day of summer. With a new season on the horizon, perhaps will come change. For better or worse he realized whatever it was it would make a better, stronger person.