The man before me had eyes filled with hope, almost pleading, like an innocent man before a guillotine who had accepted his fate but still prayed for a miracle. The dark blue tie around his neck looked too tight and clashed with the light blue pinstriped shirt on which it lay. He had an air of discomfort about him as he knelt on the carpeted floor of the restaurant, extending to me a small red velvet box.

The air grew dense with silence for a moment until the piano at the far end of the room began to play a gentle melody of encouragement. My eyes were resting solely on his, but we were both very aware of the dozens of eyes that stared expectantly at the box between us as he started to open it. The gem inside looked out of place in his hands. It mimicked the glint in his pleading eyes as he lifted it towards me further. Chatter vibrated through our audience littered with sighs and coos.

The words that left his mouth fell ungracefully to the floor. I broke eye contact and glanced briefly across the tables in front of me, full of smiles and hope. I painted a smile across my own mouth as I looked to the man once again. I gave a slow nod and the room embarked on a scattered applause as the ring was removed from the cushion in which it nestled. He took my hand in his and electricity flowed between us, but it was an uneasy energy. The ring was slid onto my finger with surprising ease and I lifted my hand to inspect it. It felt cold and heavy, its glimmer like a raindrop against my glasses.

I stood and he put his arms around me in celebration. He placed a hand very gently on the back of my head to hold me closer and whispered a message of love into my ear, his breath hot and sticky. I squeezed my arms around him in response before releasing him and pulling away to take my seat once more. He resumed his place opposite me as the rest of the room settled back into their own lives.

The innocent man smiled in relief; his execution had been delayed.


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