The Perfect Time

 

“Hi, Katriona. I’m on my way to pick you up and should be there in twenty minutes. See ya then.”

Jeff Kendall whistled as he drove down Highway 694 to pick up his girlfriend, Katriona. Today he was going to ask her to marry him. He had been thinking about proposing for awhile, but wanted to be certain they were ready for the important step of a wedding. At last he was sure they were ready, but he needed to find the perfect time to ask her.

Fate had intervened two weeks ago when they had been strolling through the shopping mall together. She had mentioned that she didn’t care for conventional diamond engagement rings and that what she really wanted was a sapphire ring instead. She showed him her heart’s desire at a jeweler’s in the mall. It was an oval sapphire with tiny diamonds encircling it in a white gold setting. When she tried it on, her face lit up like the stars in the evening sky. The next day Jeff went back to the jeweler’s and bought it for the proposal.

I’ll be paying off this ring for a long time, but it will be worth it when I see the smile on her face, he thought happily. He gave his coat pocket a confident pat where the black velvet ring box was nestled inside. But the expected bulge was not present. He checked the other side pocket and there was nothing there, either. He shifted as he checked his pants pockets, but still — no ring. He finally came to the realization that he had left the most important thing of all at home. He clapped a frustrated hand to his forehead. How could I have done such a stupid thing? Now I’m gonna to be late!

“Hi, Katriona, sweetheart, it’s me. Something came up and now I’m running a little late. But I’m on my way, okay? I won’t be long. See ya soon. Bye.”

After he retrieved the ring, it began to rain. The closer he drove to Katriona’s house, the harder it rained. It was the kind of rain that the people from his hometown, Blaine, MN, would say was “raining cats and dogs.”

This is not the way I planned things to be, Jeff thought, disappointed, as he drove down the highway. I looked up the weather for today in the Farmer’s Almanac, and it said it was supposed to be sunny, warm, with a temperature of 72 degrees, and dry! If you can’t trust the Farmer’s Almanac, then who can you trust? he thought disgustedly, shaking his head.

Then there was a clap of thunder and a flash of lightning streaked across the sky. Now I have a thunderstorm to deal with.

He wondered how he was going to be able to carry out his surprise. It was supposed to be a  picnic, which was one of Katriona’s favorite things; but how could you have a picnic in the rain? He had packed a delicious lunch of ham and cheese sandwiches, chips and dip, fruit salad, his mom’s famous home-baked brownies, and he had even brought champagne with special glasses. He knew Katriona would love it. It would be the perfect time to ask her to marry him — if only it would stop raining.

The storm was getting worse by the minute. The rain was so strong he could barely see well enough to drive. To make matters worse, the windshield wiper on the driver’s side quit working. Jeff pulled over onto the shoulder of the highway to replace the broken wiper.

It’s a good thing I picked up one on sale last week and threw it in the trunk, he thought. Maybe my luck is beginning to turn.

As he was replacing the windshield wiper, an eighteen-wheeler semi-trailer truck drove past Jeff and at the same time rolled through a huge puddle, splashing him from head to toe with dirty, muddy water.

“Thanks a lot, buddy!” Jeff yelled.

He had to work at 6:00 p.m. so he knew he had no time to go home and change. He would either have to cancel his date with Katriona or still see her, even though he was a filthy mess. He was determined to keep the date. He was going to ask her to marry him today, no matter what!

“Katriona, baby, it’s me. One of the windshield wipers broke so I had to get out and fix it. Then this semi came along and splashed muddy water all over me. Anyway, I don’t have time to go home and change, so I’m kind of dirty. Is that okay? I knew you’d understand. I know I’m late, but I’m on my way. See ya soon.”

He got into his car and began driving again, with both windshield wipers working and the engagement ring safe and secure in his pocket. But it was still raining. I’ll figure out something, he thought. Maybe we’ll drive to the park and if it doesn’t stop raining, we’ll have a picnic in the car. I’ll play some CD’s — yeah — that’ll be perfect!

Jeff exited on University Avenue and was just a few miles from Katriona’s house when the tire blew out on the right rear side.

He parked the car on the side of the road and pounded the steering wheel. “Are you kidding me?” he yelled. He took a deep breath and sighed as he dialed Katriona’s phone number once again. “Katriona, darling, you won’t believe this, but I’m three miles from your house with a flat tire. I’ll try to get there as fast as I can. I love you.”

Jeff got out of the car and began to change the tire. The rain continued to pour down with no end in sight. By now he was not only drenched to the skin, but he was chilled to the bone. As he was loosening the lug nuts, the wrench slipped and he scraped his knuckles on the pavement. “Ouch! Can this day get any worse?” he moaned, looking heavenward, as he rubbed his throbbing knuckles.

With the tire finally changed, he got back into the car to drive the remaining three miles to Katriona’s house. Still the rain poured down. Still the thunder boomed. Still the lightning streaked. “At least now the rain has cleaned off all the dirt and mud from me,” he laughed sarcastically.

It seemed as though it had taken forever, but at last he arrived at Katriona’s house. She was watching for him and came running down the path as soon as he pulled up. She hopped into the car and leaned in to give him a kiss.

“I thought you were never going to get here,” she laughed.

“Me, neither,” he laughed back.

Now that she was with him, his world was much better. He didn’t feel so wet or cold, and even his knuckles didn’t sting so much anymore.

Then suddenly, the rain stopped and the sun came out from hiding behind the clouds.

“Look,” smiled Katriona, pointing to the horizon. “There’s a rainbow.”

Then Jeff knew: Now is the perfect time.

 

 

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