In the Next Breath
I knew it was a mistake the moment the words were out of my mouth, but it was too late. I couldn’t catch hold of those words, as they raced through the air, and pull them back into my mouth, never to be spoken.
“Will you marry me?”
“Yes,” Megan replied. Her face full of surprise and pleasure. Her expression filled me with guilt. This was the wrong thing to do, but it was what was expected of me, I knew.
We were both eighteen then, but far younger in our shared naivety. We had met at church, but that wasn’t a true description. Our families attended the same Evangelical church, our parents were close, in the closeness that the church fostered between couples, and Megan and I were thrown together. We liked the same things, the same Christian things (we were only allowed to watch and read and listen to Christians entertainment), and we were the youngest children in our families. We had so many things in common and our little world was throwing us together so we became friends without even realising it.
“I have been praying so hard for this,” Megan said, her voice soft and almost breathless with excitement. “I knew the Lord wanted us to be married. I knew the Lord sent you into my live to be my husband. I’d been given so many words of knowledge about it. I was just waiting for you to ask me.”
“I’m sorry it took me so long,” I said, I didn’t know how to answer her.
“I’m just so happy that you’ve followed the Lord’s plan for our lives and have asked me,” she squeezed my hand tightly as she spoke. Her finger nails dug tightly into my skin. It hurt and I knew I deserved it.
We were sat together on the grass, at the bottom of her parents’ garden. It was her parents’ Mid Summer Garden Party, held that Saturday for the whole congregation. I knew I had to do it. Pastor Edward had said that having a girlfriend would make me normal, save me from hell, so I had a girlfriend. He said that being married was God’s will for me, so I had asked her to marry me. But I hadn’t changed, I was still a freak and still condemned to hell.
I looked over Megan’s shoulder and saw Mark, her older brother, in his shorts and tight tee-shirt, playing football with the younger kids. It was Mark I really loved, but I kept that a tightly hidden secret.
“I love you,” Megan said.
I looked her in the face and lied.