By Ekta R. Garg
Prompt: Hand it over: Reluctantly, he handed over the key…
Reluctantly he handed over the key and knew right then his life would never be the same.
He used to be a legend. Women would flock to him like geese to a pond. Guys would come to him in the back of the bar over a game of pool or on the basketball court and ask, between shots on the table or at the basket, for his secret. What made him so irresistible? What made the women want him?
On the court, behind the cue stick, he did it with swagger and with a grin. What can I say, he’d tell them. They just can’t get enough of me.
He never told them the truth. Well, not most of them. A few of the guys he told only because he knew they were like him: gentlemen.
When most guys would go through a door first and hold it open behind them, he darted around his dates and held the door open. And he always added the flourish. The little hand gesture with a “Ladies first” always made the women grin. A couple of them even blushed.
But it didn’t stop there. He pulled back the chair at the table and waited for his date to sit down before hustling around the table to his own seat. He always brought a wrist corsage on the first date and a few yellow roses on the second one. The yellow roses, he told them, meant friendship. Friendship, he told all of his dates, formed the basis for all of the best relationships in life.
On the third date, if they got that far, he went for the first kiss. He liked to wait until the third, he told the right guys, because guys thrived on curiosity but so did women. Three dates teased them long enough without frustrating them so much that they got huffy and dropped him.
After that he would let the date decide how far they went, how fast, how often. Some of them left it at the kissing. A few let him go farther. But he never took it personally either way.
He also never bothered with his heart. He liked treating women well. He relished the way their eyes lit up when they realized he wouldn’t push them, that he would let them lead. He just didn’t want to get involved for anything long term. He liked his rep. He liked his freedom. And he didn’t want to fight for the toothpaste in the morning for the rest of his life.
And that’s why most of the relationships didn’t go past the first three months.
Until today. Today when he handed over the key. The round metal shape glittered at one point, and it made regret reverberate through his body when he offered her this vital part of his life.
Regret. That he hadn’t found her sooner. That he hadn’t known earlier how giving up the key to his heart would seal all the cracks.
He grinned. “I do.”