Martin wiped his hands across his pants’ top, leaving the kind of sweaty residue you might expect from your average slug. His breathing was shallow, his heart was palpitating, and his dilated eyes probably made him look high. He was going to ask her.
There was no way she’d say no, but that didn’t make the whole thing any easier. He’d be down on his knee, like some sad parody of a squire waiting to be knighted. And there she’d be with her big green eyes, watering no doubt as she came to an all-encompassing silence.
And the ring. The thing she’d be wearing for all to see. He’d gotten it from the strangest of jewelers. He was a bug-eyed little man who kept looking to the sky and muttering to himself. But who cared? He got it and it was beautiful. She’d love it.
There was his Ashley. She stood radiant in the dull pink glow of the polluted sky, shining through even despite it. She was dressed for the occasion, with that black-and-white polka dot dress that made Martin’s brain turn to mush every time he looked her way. This wouldn’t be easy at all.
She smiled in the way a person does when they’re in on a harmless secret, her knowing eyes scanning Martin’s hand as it awkwardly left the ring box’s pocket. She knew. She always knew. It was one of her many talents. But he’d make a show of it anyway.
Martin took his lady down by the water, and they skipped stones in the exact spot they did on their first date so many late-night summers ago. They were practically babies then, their eagerness matched only by their all-encompassing naïveté. Even so, they were in love. Even then, on that first stone-skipping night. And they both knew it.
Martin snapped back from his reverie, he made a point to be as casual as possible while looking for opportunities to ask. Every time it got quiet and he thought he’d do it, something would happen. Ashley would tell a joke, or a nearby frog would make its sloppy entrance into the water. After a few minutes of this, Martin said fuck it.
He got down on his knee, right then, and looked his lady in the eye.
“I don’t care if you saw this one coming, try to act surprised.”
She started to tear up, even though she told herself that under no circumstances would she do so. But when he pulled out that ring, she just couldn’t help it. Ashley said fuck it.
“Ashley, will you marry me?”
She nodded immediately, falling into a happiness-induced silence the likes of which even Martin didn’t see coming. She proffered her finger to him. He slid the ring onto it.
Colors Martin didn’t even know existed flew by at breakneck speed. The sounds of what people from the ‘70s thought space sounded like were all around. Synthesizers ascending in pitch, coupled with Pink Floyd-esque guitar work. And here were Martin and Ashley, locking hands in a desperate attempt to not be flung into the multi-colored, space-rock abyss.
A parallax gave way to a gilded nebula, stars whizzed by them and planets fell in and out of sight. They were travelling too damned fast.
The stars turned black, the inky darkness of space turned to a milky white. There was an ocean at their feet, which were in the sky. Nothing made sense and everything was kind of sort of completely weird.
An orb was fast approaching in the distance. Or rather, Martin and Ashley were fast approaching it. Within seconds it was upon them, a massive planet of purple and orange and green and landmasses that jutted out millions of miles into the atmosphere.
The newly-fianced couple entered the atmosphere at incomprehensible speed, their insides feeling as though they were a few miles back and trying to catch up. They landed in the milky sweetness of an alien ocean, warm as it basked in its fourteen suns.
A beam shot them out of the water and onto land, where they faced a creature who sat upon a throne, surrounded by his subjects. They all had the general appearance of a dog mixed with a chimpanzee if said combination had eight eyes. It was compellingly disturbing.
“I AM NIMROD, RULER OF THE SEEN AND UNSEEN DIMENSIONS OF THE ALL-CONTENTS. YOU WILL RETURN THE RING OF POWER YOU PILFERRED FROM ME AT ONCE.”
Ashley looked at Martin, judging whether he’d be ready to make a break for it or not.
“Hehehe… his name’s Nimrod.”
Nimrod ignored this dig, instead raising what appeared to be a wand, but which looked more like a cute squeaky toy that a puppy might play with. With a flick of the wand, Ashley’s ring came loose on her finger. It started to float away.
Martin was on it in a second, he snatched it out of the air before Nimrod could steal it away. As Martin clutched it in his hand, the ring gave off a jolt of electricity that knocked everyone in the vicinity on their asses.
The kingdom’s subjects raised their own wands, shot off spells at the young couple. It was all Martin could do to keep from getting killed, but he kept them all at bay with the magic of the ring.
He grabbed his lady tight and handed the ring back to her. In a flash she slipped it on her finger and pointed to the sky.
It all flew past faster this time, the colors and Floydian sounds all one big, great blur.
And then they were there. Back by the water’s edge, hands unbelievably clammy as they remained tightly locked together. Martin turned to Ashley, still out of breath.
“I should’ve just gone to Zales or something, huh?”
“Meh. Wouldn’t have been as fun.”
Martin nodded his agreement. The couple walked off and went about the rest of their day.