Ambrose stared listlessly at the phone, vaguely wondering what he ought to do with it. I should do something…something…put it in…something…
His head drooped towards the glowing keypad. horses…stop the horses…pull reins…
He raised his head. “Of course.” He went into Contacts, pressed Sammy’s name, and tapped Call.
“Thank you for calling Sammy’s Place. This is Sammy Borscht speaking. How can—”
“Yeah. Yeah. Whatever. Sammy. It’s me. Ambrose. I don’t want to get into a whole long conversation. I just want an answer.” He rubbed his forehead against the heel of his hand. “Are there any places around here that…so tired…can’t think…horses…”
“Horse. Carriage. What am I trying to ask? Ugh.”
“I honestly have no idea.”
“Rides. Carriage rides. Horses. Horse-drawn carriage rides. Any around here?”
“Well. They have the hay wagon rides at McGillicudy’s Farm around Halloween.”
Ambrose dropped his hand. “Idiot. Who takes a grown woman on a hay wagon ride? That’s just disgusting.”
“Ah. Is this regarding Ms. Addleston?”
“Yes. I have plans. I want to surprise her. I tried looking it up on her computer.” He winced at the memory of the blank screen. “It’s dead now.”
“Ah. If I’m understanding you correctly, you wish to take Ms. Addleston for a romantic buggy ride?”
“I hate the word buggy. It’s stupid and gross and…” He scrunched his eyes. “I’m so tired. Do you know of any places?”
“Not off the top of my head, but I can research it for you.”
“Lovely. And I don’t want a driver.”
Profound silence on the line.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Smith, but…What?”
“I want to drive her myself.”
“Uhh, Mr. Smith.”
“I want to impress her with my amazing horse driving skills.”
“I don’t think—”
“I don’t care what you think.” He opened his eyes. “This is what I want to do. This is how I want to propose to her.”
Sammy was silent for a few minutes.
Ambrose’s head started to drift downwards again.
“When was the last time you controlled a horse drawn carriage?”
Ambrose huffed out a loud sigh. Right into the speaker. “I don’t know. I’m tired, Sammy. I don’t want to think about…” He laid his head on the pillow. “I don’t want…I don’t…”
He closed his eyes. “Just…” He sighed. “…do what you can to…”
Sammy waited for Ambrose to finish his thought.
Ambrose’s breathing softened into a sleep pattern.
He ended the call and set his phone on the desk.
Help him. I have to help him propose to Ms. Addleston.
His pencils snapped in half – one at a time.
It’s galling, but what else can I do? I did give him my permission.
Those halves snapped into smaller halves.
And I can’t take it back.
The erasers exploded like champagne corks, shooting out in all directions. None of them hit him.
He took a breath and softly exhaled. Kittens playing with yarn, puppies running through a meadow, rainbows, pink, blue, green, white, rubies, emeralds, lapis lazuli, wedding rings…
He swept the shattered pencil mess into his trash can.
She chose him.
She wants him.
He makes her happy.
I have to let her go.
The pencil bits went up into flames.
If only letting her go didn’t hurt so much.
I never had her to start with.
The flames flickered down.
“I will insist on a backseat driver, though. Just in case.”