Blueberries, My Favorite

By Alyssa Leininger

That evening, Isabella could feel it: the excitement that coursed through her veins, the way her hands shook with anticipation, and how her lips curved into a smile that just wouldn’t straighten out. Tom would finally, finally, pop the question and ask her to be his wife.

Tom is such a fool, she thought as she watched him hop out of his expensive car, scurrying his way to the door. As the doorbell rang, she took her time gathering her things, but there was a beating in her chest that sped up with a nervous energy and a flutter of wings in her stomach that just kept flapping as she hopped down the stairs. 

“Wow, you look really good tonight,” was the first thing Tom said as she opened the door to him. He clutched a bouquet full of red roses in both hands, like he was afraid he would drop it. “Like really, really good.” 

“Really?” Her eyes shined as he stumbled over his words, and a smirk crept its way onto her face. 

“Don’t make fun of me,” he chuckled and wrapped one arm around her as he led them to the car, holding out the bouquet for Isabella to smell; however, the bouquet didn’t get far as Isabella pushed it away from her face, a look of disgust replacing her previous expression.  

She plucked one petal out and dangled it in front of Tom’s distraught face, “This is red.” Tom’s eyebrows furrowed together in confusion, and Isabella suddenly felt the strong urge to pull her hair out in frustration. “I didn’t ask for red!” 

He shifted his weight on both feet, suddenly feeling like he was shrinking in on himself. “Right, right…” he trailed off as he watched her high-heeled foot tap impatiently, “they didn’t have any pink.” 

Isabella knew it was true that she had never asked for white roses, but seeing Tom try so hard, it was almost admirable. In truth, she had never known a man to care so much about something so small, and Tom always did.

Their car ride was relatively quiet. He knew Isabella was mad at him, but he didn’t know how to get her to talk to him; he never really had. The offending red roses were now laying in his trunk, their petals thrown around haphazardly in his rush to get in the car.  

Tom seemed a little bit awkward as he pulled open Isabella’s door. “I told you I don’t like blueberries,” she hissed, her eyes narrowing at the basket of fruit in Tom’s hands.  

“They’re grapes,” he stated, his face blank. She blinked at him once, twice, then scoffed and made her way to the sand. Tom followed, his shoes dragging their way down.  

“Well,” Tom started, “we are at the beach.” For some reason, Isabella seemed on edge to Tom. Sure, Isabella was someone who could not be pleased easily, but Tom had seemed to figure out her sweet spot regarding that. Today, though, she seemed to be on the defensive of everything he did, and he wasn’t sure why. The critical behavior she exhibited could only be a sign of her nerves, something he was not experienced in handling, and it was starting to rub off on him as well.

Isabella halted. She thought his attitude had grown a little snippy, and she wondered why. Sure, she had been a little rude about the flowers, and she didn’t really hate blueberries, she just didn’t like them. All-in-all, she thought things were going very well, and she assumed Tom thought the same, although those thoughts were beginning to change. Even when she acted like that, Tom never got angry, never raised his voice, but she could tell he was getting upset. On any regular day, it wouldn’t bother her much that he was unhappy, he was normally the one making sure she was happy, but today meant more. This wasn’t just a random trip to the beach, she knew it. Her mind swirled with worry as she watched the sun start to descend from the sky.  

“So why did we come to the beach anyway?” She blurted out without meaning to. Tom looked anxious and it made her feel the same. “You look nervous.” 

For a second, Tom looked straight at her, almost through her; then he looked out to the sea. As the last light of the sun went drooping down under the horizon, Isabella swore she could see a glimmer in his eyes. Was he about to cry? 

“Isabella, there’s been something I’ve been meaning to tell you for a while now.” He continued to look out to sea, and she watched as one hand dipped down into his pocket. Isabella’s hands suddenly shook with excitement by her side as she realized she had been right this whole time. Tonight was going to be a special night after all. She almost grabbed him and begged him to just get on with it and finally, finally put that ring on her finger. 

“Isabella, I really love you, and I think you’re a wonderful person,” he expressed, his eyes finally landing on hers. Her heart fluttered with happiness as she tried to grasp onto any patience left in her body.  


“Tommy,” she said with a broken voice, “what did you say?” 

She didn’t understand the feeling that wrapped itself around her and squeezed until she had no air to breathe. Why did it hurt so much and why was she crying? This feeling wouldn’t go away and she couldn’t shake it as she stood there with her face wet with tears that just would not stop falling, and it made her angry. She was angry about the way Tom stood there and didn’t comfort her, the way he just looked down at his shoes covered in sand, and it made her angry that she was weeping over him, tears pouring all over her face.  

“I can’t believe this!” She bellowed suddenly. Tom looked up at the loud noise and found her glaring at him with a look of utmost hatred. “You want to break up with me?” She scoffed, her face morphing into a deep shade of red. “How could you do this to me?” She nearly screamed. Tom was stunned, and his heart felt like it was breaking.  

“I wasted all my time for this?” she questioned, ears nearly blowing out steam.  

“I’m sorry,” Tom spoke out, his first words revealing how his throat was closing in, and he felt like he was choking but he wouldn’t let that stop him from talking. He would tell her exactly how he felt and hopefully she would listen. “

His words only let out half of what he was feeling. Inside, his stomach twisted, and his heart pounded in a sickening thud that pushed against his rib cage, over and over again. Even though he had known about Isabella and her plot, he couldn’t help but to fall helplessly in love with her. He knew Isabella, and that seemed like it could be enough for him. He could get over the fact that she sometimes reacted poorly to seemingly small things, because when things were good between them, they were really good. What he had held onto was hope, hope that she would see him without the guise of her materialness. Hope, that was slipping away like the waves off the shore, barreling off the coastline and twisting into a rip current of emotions that Tom had never felt before.

Isabella couldn’t understand what he was saying through the way her heart pounded in her ears, and the way her vision was morphed into nothing but a blur. “If you felt that way, why didn’t you leave earlier?” She waited for an answer and when she didn’t get one, she continued, “Why didn’t you tell me if I was being so awful, why were you so sweet this whole time if your plan was to leave? Was it to lure me in and then drop me at just the right time? Was it that?” She was greeted with silence once again and it only made her angrier. The tears that poured down her face felt like hot lava, and it burned like that mere flame turned into a giant forest fire and it was wild and wicked, and out of her control. She burned as she stomped her way towards Tom, and screamed right in his face, “God damn it, why didn’t you leave earlier?” 

He stumbled, surprised by her sudden hollering and almost tripped over his own two legs, which shook like crazy. What he didn’t feel was the box that he swore he had tucked deep within his suit pocket fall out and hit the sand with a plunk. He heard it hit the sand, but couldn’t bear looking down at it as his eyes widened and his heart picked up to a speed that definitely wasn’t good for him. As much as he tried to look away, he couldn’t stop Isabella from looking down at what he already knew was an engagement box, which held an expensive engagement ring inside. The one that was supposed to belong to Isabella. The one that Isabella was supposed to be wearing on her finger right now. 

As she looked down at it, she thought of herself as a fool. She thought Tom had played her, but she knew he loved her. 

You’re a fool,” she gritted out as she took one last glance at his hopeless face. He would come back to her, she knew that, and so she stood up, wiping the tears from her cheeks, and with one last glare she kicked the basket of fruit and left him, stranded in the sand still, rooted in place.  

Tom felt as if she had walked away with a piece of his heart. Whether she meant her last words or not, he had loved her truly. He flopped down onto the sand and found that the basket still held some fruit. 

“Blueberries, my favorite.” 

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