Georgia’s Boundary Line
Georgia fiddled with the radio, trying to find the perfect song. Nothing came in but a wall of static. After enjoying a sizzling surf ‘n turf dinner at the downtown café, they headed to their rented log cabin for a romantic getaway. Today marked their one-year anniversary of dating. This was the night for a marriage proposal.
He’d better, or I’m leaving. She will not let him embarrass her after she told her parents and the girls at work.
“Pick a station already. I’ve never driven at night in the pitch-dark woods. I don’t wanna hit a deer. It’s spooky with no streetlights. Don’t you think?” Mitch asked without taking his eyes off the road.
He’s so cute when he’s nervous.
Georgia was trying to find a 1980s station. A song by Air Supply or Foreigner set the mood. Ever since she was a teenager, she needed music playing like a soundtrack to her life. “Sorry. I can’t find any stations that come in. It’s so romantic with no one around. Did you see that owl hoot as we left dinner? I’ve never seen or heard one before.” She smiled to herself as she reached to place her hand on this thigh.
Out of the darkness, a shadow floated towards their vehicle.
Mitch jerked the wheel, swerving to the other side of the road.
“We hit something.” She knew they hit something as she heard the metal crack on her side of the vehicle.
They sat in stilled silence, looking out the rear window, waiting for the shadow to move.
“We need to get out. It could be an animal on the road dying back there. I knew I should have been driving. You had too many beers with dinner.” He insisted on driving after dinner. Georgia learned the hard way not to question him when he had a few drinks.
Nothing will ruin tonight.
“I had three beers. You know I can handle more than that. Why can’t you trust me?”
As Mitch pled his case, Georgia saw movement out of the corner of her eye. She pulled on her red knit gloves as Mitch was digging through the glove compartment to find his work flashlight. “Hold on. I don’t think we should get out. What if the animal bites us or something? We could get rabies.”
“Stop being a baby. Some poor animal could need our help. I want to make sure it’s okay, and then we’ll go back to our cabin,” she said.
Mitch looked over at her. He snapped on the overhead light. She saw it in his eyes. His pupils, dilated and darker. Rage. She’d seen it before. “I am NOT a baby.”
She pinched a flap of fat on her arm. It would leave a bruise as a reminder. Mitch taught her a lesson not to say dumb things that triggered him. His father was abusive, called him a baby because he cried so much. And no wonder he did because his dad was abusive. What a messed-up family. The next day he served her breakfast in bed as a reminder that he couldn’t manage his anger. As if that was enough. The bruises were her reminders.
Mitch smacked her along the back of her head. Georgia didn’t flinch anymore. She knew when to expect it. “Go over there and check it out. I’ll check the car for damage,” he said.
She looked back over to where she last saw the shadow in the middle of the road. It was still there, not moving.
As she got closer, Mitch yelled, “Use your cell phone flashlight.”
Georgia powered her phone on, hoping the battery wasn’t dead. She needed the remaining battery life to take pics of her engagement ring. The flashlight lit the surrounding scene. Once she saw it was an injured dog, she ran over to it. As she bent down to feel for a pulse, she noticed a small box wrapped with a blood-red velvet ribbon. She bolted back up as if it electrocuted her. What the hell?!
“Surprise, babe,” Mitch whispered, now standing behind her.
The road filled with Georgia’s scream.
As he grinned like the clown in It, he dropped to one knee while opening the ring box.
“Will you marry me, Georgia?”
She was transported to her childhood home on her sweet-sixteen birthday. It was like a Christmas car commercial when someone receives a new car wrapped in a huge red ribbon. As she pulled out of the driveway to pick up her best friend, she felt a lump as she rolled over something in the driveway. She slammed on the brakes. Honey, her Golden Retriever, was still. Blood pooling around his head. His skull, crushed. She turned around and threw up on her new car’s hood. It took two months before she would drive that car.
Mitch knew this story, her reason for wanting to be a veterinarian. She couldn’t afford a four-year college. Instead, she completed a vet tech program.
“Georgia, did you hear me? It’s okay. It’s not a real dog. Hey, John, come on out!” Mitch yelled towards the woods. Mitch’s older brother wandered out, dressed in all black.
She bent down to feel what she thought was a dog, realizing it was a stuffed dog from Mitch’s family cabin. Taxidermic animals lined every inch of that place since his grandpa was the local taxidermist. She had nightmares for a week the first time they spent the weekend.
“Did she say yes?” John asked as he approached the scene in the middle of the road.
Georgia stood back up and headed back to their car. She pulled up her contacts to find the number of a friend she knows who lives in the area to see if they will come pick her up.
Mitch ripped the phone from her hand. “What are you doing?”
“Is this a joke? This is how you propose?” She pleads. “I will not be proposed to like this.”
“Am I not good enough for you? I arranged for this weekend away at my Grandpa’s cabin and my favorite restaurant. You love horror movies, so I thought this would be exciting and something you would remember.”
“Do you remember me telling me about, Honey? Do you remember me telling you that was the most traumatic thing I’ve been through? I don’t like your grandpa’s cabin. I don’t care about the cafe in the middle of nowhere. How about you marry yourself? I’m done. And if that is not clear enough for you, the answer is no.”
Georgia slid into the driver’s side. She felt his car key still in the ignition. As she drove away in the dark, she blasted static to block Mitch’s voice fading in the distance.
Photo by Tirza van Dijk on Unsplash