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Strangers in Love

By Adelle Sepulveda


Chevon skims through the email she’s sending her supervisor for the nth time. Celeste Barrera is a snob when it comes to work. Sick days are looked down upon, and God forbid you take a vacation for more than five days. Damn, she loathes her; the send button looks disasterly. But then she thinks of Micah, and the plans he made all by himself for this trip. The couple is going to Cancun for the weekend, and a beautiful vacation away only makes Chevon hope for one thing, and one thing only: a proposal.


Before she can spiral into thoughts of how he intends to propose, finally, the man of said thoughts comes in, back from work. His chocolate colored hair is still slicked and styled from this morning, but there is no restfulness to his face; only dried sweat and grime from a day’s work. The crinkles on his face, between his brows and near his mouth, have only gotten deeper with time- the time throughout their relationship.


Chevon looks at him for a while. And when he catches her staring, he smiles crookedly, turning to lock the door and putting aside his jacket and bag. “Hey,” he greets with a quick peck, before going about their small kitchen. “Whatcha got there?”


Chevon looks up from her computer screen, “An email to Celeste. I procrastinated and still haven’t told her about our trip next weekend.”


Micah doesn’t look at all concerned, but blasé when he shrugs, “We can always postpone if you need. I’m sure I can get a flight for another time for the same price.” Chevon frowns, immediately disagreeing with the idea. “What? Absolutely not. You planned this all by yourself and have everything in place already.” She sends the email without hesitating, “I’m not going to cancel because of work.”


Micah chugs the rest of his water, coming around the tabletop. “Whatever you want, Chev. It’s no big deal.” The last part makes her frown deepen. “I’m going to head into the shower.” Once more he kisses her, gives her his go-to smile, and goes down into the hallway that leads to their bedroom.


Chevon can’t help but think down the rabbit hole of what he means the entire time he’s in the shower.


 ‘No big deal’? But it should be, because he is going to propose… right? After eight years of dating, two of those years living together, they should be moving onward to marriage. It is not just about what is conventional, but about what she desires. Ever since she was a teenage girl she’d dream of getting married to someone she loved, so why is it that it is taking too long?


Chevon doesn’t want to wallow, so instead she fixes up a quick dinner.


The kitchen is her favorite place in the apartment. Though small, the area is wide enough for her to move around when grabbing ingredients. In the center is a deep mahogany table top with drawers filled with sharp knives and other utensils that are made for prepping food. Above are simple and dainty glass light fixtures that resemble blooming flowers; toned down yellow light bulbs shine through the glass. Across from the center of the kitchen is her favorite kitchen appliance of all: a silver toned smart fridge, which makes cooking and life more convenient with its WiFi powered set up. With it you can make phone calls, look up recipes, and set reminders and timers for cooking. The cabinets all around the area of the kitchen are painted a creamy white with silver knobs and small carved-in floral details around the edging of them. The floral details match the design of the light fixtures; an intricate, small detail Chevon thought to be very tasteful for her kitchen. Last but not least, a matching colored awning hovers above the stove, where steam is currently wafting from her cooking.


 When the meal is done, she sets the table in their equally small dining room and waits for Micah to come out. She checks her phone for a minute, seeing that she’s gotten a response from her boss, who’s approved her days off without a fight. Chevon sighs in relief just as Micah exits their bedroom. He’s already dressed for bed, and smells like aftershave and soap when he comes around to sit in front of her.


Micah thanks her, like he always does, and begins eating. There is no conversation to be had. So Chevon initiates, not yet touching her plate, “I sent the email and my PTO got approved, so we are good to go.” She looks down at her food and forces herself to eat, even with no appetite. Micah distractedly nods with a mouth full, “That’s good.”


No clue why, but the toneless reply pisses her off just a tad. She huffs audibly, and he gives her a concerned look with a brow raised.


The last time the couple had a fight was almost three years ago. Chevon can still replay it in her head frame by frame. Micah had gone MIA days after they had just started looking at houses together; he’d been staying over at her apartment for a while.


No notice, no call when he didn’t show up at her door from work one day. Chevon went ballistic when he finally came home after 24 hours with nothing but a tired face and a bouquet of her favorite flowers- purple hyacinths. The downplay of his disappearance is what set her off, and when he wouldn’t tell her what caused him to ignore her and leave, she had left her own place for a bit as well.


Micah found her at their favorite takeout spot, apologized profusely and promised to tell her everything if she just came home.




He’d said it, not her, and that gave her everything in that moment.


Micah divulged that night in their bedroom, speaking of his insecurities in committing to buying a house with her. Deep down, in the depths of her conscience, she knew he left some thoughts unsaid, hidden away in his heart. But Chevon was tired of fighting and missing him, so she proposed that they rent another apartment instead.


 Later that night, they promised to communicate thoroughly. And they did, about everything and anything, except for their future. There have been no inklings of what later in life could entail.


“Why are you so okay with postponing the trip?” No beating around the bush. Chevon wants to know his true intentions, and if all of these hopes of proposals were just that- hopes.


The skin between his brows scrunch, and his eyes, so deep and brown, look utterly confused and innocent. “Because I know work is important to you, and we could always take some time off later.” He motions mindlessly with his fork, “When you finally get that position you want at work and can be your own boss.”


Micah sounds perfectly understanding, and so very oblivious to her assumptions about what the Cancun trip would entail. Chevon merely nods, suddenly furiously irritated at his attitude that is too cordial and too bland.


 “I get that, but you planned everything Micah.” He finally leaves his meal alone at her sudden aggression. “If I hadn’t gotten time off you would have had to uproot everything you set into place for the trip, which would have been a total disaster.”


Chevon dislikes the way she has suddenly become spiteful; all for him doing nothing wrong.


Nothing. Micah has done nothing for the past 2 years they’ve been living together. No talk about their futures, no talk about moving forward, only staying static in their current lifestyle.




Perhaps she has been this way all along, and it has been slowly boiling up to a point where she cannot take it anymore. Her head suddenly hurts, but she tampers the pain down uselessly.


“Chevy,” he calls dotingly, dragging out the last syllable as if he’s calling for a pet’s attention.


‘Chevy’- a nickname he calls her, only when he wants to patronize.


“Why are you so upset? I don’t get it. I’m trying to do what’s best for you, and here you are, blaming me as if I’ve done something?”


Though their tones are steady, not yet loud enough to be heard through thin walls, Chevon knows that an argument, loud and raunchy, is going to unfold. An argument that has been needing to happen for the past 5 years. Now is just the right time for it.


 Instead of leaving him be, and keeping her heart guarded, Chevon questions him, “So, you weren’t going to propose then?”


“What?” He finally abandons his plate, giving her his full attention. “Where is this coming from Chev?”


“Just answer the question, Micah. Were you or were you not going to propose on that trip?”


Micah shakes his head as if this is all just a bad dream. Acting suddenly distressed, he swipes a hand through his hair, sighing. “Chevon, can we just eat first and then talk about this, please? I had a long day at work, and I’m starved.”


“And, you made this food for us. It’d be a shame to let it go to waste.” Micah picks up his fork to take another bite, but her next remark cuts it off. “Oh, please shut the hell up,” she replies with distaste in her mouth at his kind facade. “We’re talking about this now.”


“Not after dinner, not after we’ve gone to bed. Not next year when the lease is up. Now!” She points a finger down, clenching her other hand into a fist beneath the table.


“We’ve been in this relationship for eight years Micah,” she repeats, “Eight years and nothing. No change, no marriage, not even talk of it.” Chevon suddenly realizes she is crying silently. Salt water streams down her face, erasing a day’s worth of makeup. Micah’s face wavers from across the table; it changes from stumped to hurt as he looks away shamefully.


That last look gives her some satisfaction, but not all.


Micah draws his elbows on the tabletop, throwing his head into his hands. “Chevon, where is this coming from?” He repeats the question hopelessly. “We have a good life. We’re happy. I’m happy, you’re happy.”


“But are we though, Micah? Are you?” Chevon’s voice has gone from overbearing to defeated. The woman tilts her watery eyes up, meeting the shocked gaze of her partner.


Micah gives her a look of frustration, shouting in declaration, “Of course!”


His golden skin is now red from anger, and the tendons and veins in his neck bulge through. Those brown eyes she loves so dearly go wide and panicked. His control is hanging by a thread, and her fingertips reach out to tug it.


  “Of course I’m fucking happy! I have you. The woman I love!”


The last part solidifies everything. “Then why haven’t you asked me to marry you?”


He looks stunned, trapped. It’s an image you don’t want to see as a partner. It’s an image that tells you everything you’ve been avoiding. And it makes one feel as if the world has ended.


A shocking silence goes over the dinner table. There is nothing but the sound of his heavy breathing and her fast-paced beating, broken heart. Chevon feels like she’s been beaten and cast aside. Pathetically he answers, “Because there’s no reason to. We’re happy- we’re good where we are.” It’s a statement that is trying to convince, and it is doing a terrible job at it.


Chevon shakes her head, “No, we’re not. We’re not good, and we’re not happy.” She scowls through her last sentence, “I’m not happy.”


Micah croaks out, “Chevon.” Immediately she shuts it down, throwing a hand up to stop whatever it is he is about to say. “Do you want to marry me, Micah? Yes or no? It’s a simple fucking question.”


Now his eyes are glassy, and she wishes she could erase all the emotion from them, but she powers through, awaiting his answer. “I- it’s not about that Chevon.” She demands through clenched teeth, tampering down the sob that grows in her throat, “Yes or no?”


Solemnly he looks down, his face breaking as a tear escapes and falls. “No.”


The organ in the middle of her chest feels like it’s been squeezed into nothing. A sudden heavy emptiness captures her insides. To go along with that, a heap of questions and somber why’s go through her head, but she cannot physically get herself to vocalize them. She’d break right in front of him if she tried.


And Chevon does not want to break. So, without further explanation, she gets up from the dinner table and straightens her shirt, quickly walking to their- her bedroom. From behind her she hears him call out her name desperately, following closely behind her with scuffling steps. “Chevon, wait.”


Once she gets to their bedroom, she begins picking out his clothing from the dresser, politely folding and setting them aside on the bed. Micah stands right next to her, forcing himself in front of her so that she has no other choice but to meet his stare.


 “Chevon, please,” he begs. “I love you.”


Once upon a time those three words sounded heavenly, but now they just feel like hell.


Chevon continues with the task, forcing herself to ignore the searing pain in her chest. “Those words don’t mean anything.” Her head shakes hopelessly. “They don’t mean shit. Not if I’m not going to be your wife.” Chevon’s voice sounds far out in her own ears. “I want you out by morning.”


Micah doesn’t push for more fighting; no sigh or breath escapes his mouth, and that makes the decision to leave him set in stone.


The ex-lovers stand stagnant by each other, never looking one another in the eye, nor uttering words as Chevon removes everything of his from her life.


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