By Tashinga Wazara, Zimbabwe:
When I got home and opened the door at my surprise birthday party, my heart sank. It was meant to be one of the happiest days of my life but instead it was one of my worst. I was meant to have walked into the house with Kate on my arm, wearing a big smile and basking in the congratulatory messages from my family and friends. Instead I was standing there alone and the only thing on my arm was a picnic basket.
As my eyes scanned across the room, I saw that all of my close family and friends had come. I saw my parents who had driven five hours from their home to be here, my workmates and my best friends were there. Kate's friends and family had also made it. In fact, the only thing missing was Kate.
I was so sure that Kate was going to agree to marry me. We had been dating for a long time and we had spoken often about our future and what it would look like. Her denial to my proposal had completely caught me off-guard. As I drove home I tried to replay my whole relationship with Kate in my head to see where things could have gone wrong and I couldn't pinpoint a moment. Everything seemed to have been great between us but clearly there was something going on that I didn't know about.
As I walked into the house, people started asking me the inevitable question: 'Where's Kate?' Kate's best friend was the first person to come and ask me that question and when she did so, I began trying to mouth the words, 'She said no' but as I was about to, my tongue became paralysed. For some reason I couldn't bring myself to confessing the truth. It was too embarrassing, too painful. And so I replied her and said, 'Uhm she wasn't feeling too good so I took her home to go and lie down for a bit. I'm going to go pick her up just now though.' 'Oh ok. I tried calling her just now but her phone is off. I guess I'll see her later then.' her best friend said.
I felt my heart sink even further after that lie and I had a feeling that it wasn't going to be the last lie I told. Soon, as the party started going into full gear, the word had spread: 'Kate is coming later on'. I started getting nervous. I had perpetuated my lie and now there was no going back. How was I going to turn round and say, 'Oh guys, by the way, I kind of lied about the whole Kate thing. She's actually not going to be coming. She said no to my proposal.' I just couldn't. I would be the laughing stock of the whole town. I would forever be known as the guy who claimed to be engaged to his girlfriend when she had said no. I would be a joke for the rest of my life.
What would my family think? And my friends? I just couldn't let that happen. As I thought about this, it became clear to me that I had to do something to save the situation. I had to go and convince Kate to change her mind. I would do whatever it took. I would convince her to pretend to be engaged to me for now and then in a few weeks she could 'change her mind' and call off the engagement. That would be a lot better than 'Johnnie was rejected but lied that she had said yes.' I would go down as a guy who's engagement didn't work out rather than a loser. I decided that I would go and ask Kate one more time. She had to say yes.
I announced to the party that I was going to go and get Kate from her house so she could join us. She was, after all, the leading lady in what was turning out to be a real charade. I drove to Kate's house, my heart beating fast, hoping that she hadn't yet spoken to anyone about what had happened between us. I got to her house and fortunately her car was in the drive-way. I knocked on her door and eventually she opened. As soon as she saw me she said, 'What are you doing here Johnnie? I told you that I can't get married to you. It's over Johnnie.' I looked at her and said, 'Kate, please. You can't do this to me. Everyone is at my house now for our engagement party. You have to come Kate. At least let's pretend to be engaged for a few weeks and then we can break it off. Please Kate.'
I was now almost on my knees, begging her and she started crying again and shaking her head. I began to get upset. Why was she being so unreasonable? We were both standing in her living room and she was facing away from me. I felt helpless as she said no for the second time and my helplessness quickly turned into desperation. 'Please Kate. I'll do anything you want. I'll even pay you. How much do you want Kate? Tell me, how much will it cost me?'
'It's not about the money Johnnie. I just can't do it' she said through her tears. Suddenly, in a fit of rage that even surprised me, I reached over and grabbed her by her arms and said, 'Well, you don't have a choice anymore Kate. You have to do it or else!' She looked at me in utter shock and said, 'Or else what Johnnie? Please let go of me, you're hurting me!'
My arms were shaking and I said, 'Or else….or else I'll kill you!' I couldn't believe I had just said that. I hadn't planned on saying that but it just came out. Kate looked at me again, this time with fear in her eyes, and she said, 'Uhm Johnnie are you serious?' and I said 'Yes. I'm dead serious.' I could tell that she didn't believe me and so, as if it had been part of the plan, I reached into my pocket and pulled out my pocket knife and put the blade by her neck. 'I'm serious Kate. I will end your life right now.'
Kate was visibly shaken and she said, 'Ok Johnnie. Please calm down. I'll go and change now and then we can go ok?' I followed her to her room to make sure that she didn't do anything stupid like try call the cops or run away. I couldn't believe what I had done. I was by no means a murderer. I knew that. Kate knew that. But in that moment, in my desperation, there was something in my eyes that made the idea of me being a murderer believable; well, at least to Kate.
As we were driving to my house for the engagement party, we were both dead silent. I was secretly shocked at the person I had become in the last hour and Kate was probably questioning the same thing. As we got to the house, I reached into the glove compartment and pulled out the little box with the ring that Kate had rejected a couple of hours ago and trying to sound as cold and menacing as I possibly could, I said, 'Here, put this on. And don't do anything stupid. I'll be watching you.'
We walked into the party and instead of a picnic basket I had Kate on my arm except that it wasn't because she loved me; it was because of a pocket knife.
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