Green with Envy

By Reina

“Will you be my wife?”

Funny how five words can change your life.

The man waited patiently for the woman to arrive at their favorite place, which happened to be the most expensive restaurant in town. It was New Year’s Eve, and he was nervous, but excited for the proposal. It had been too long since he had done anything romantic for her because he was very busy with his environmental work, planting trees. Things were slow right now, though, because it was winter, making it the perfect time to pop the question.

Just then, in a swirl of snow, the woman breezed through the door and the host took her scarlet coat. She thanked him, and then searched the restaurant for the man she was meeting. Heads turned and eyes lingered as she walked to the table where he sat.

“Hello, beautiful,” he said warmly, kissing her cheek as he pulled out her chair.

“Hello,” she answered softly, avoiding his gaze as she took her seat. The man returned to

his place across from her and reached for her hands but she drew back, folding hers in her lap.

“Is everything alright?” he asked, leaning forward, concern saturating his voice.

 “No,” the woman murmured, still refusing to look at him. She took a deep breath, steadying herself, and then said in a stronger voice, “There’s something I have to tell you.”

The man frowned, confused. They did not keep secrets from each other. Without blinking her glorious green eyes, the woman destroyed his world in five words.

“I burned down your forest.”

When the man finally grasped this, he felt as if she had actually stabbed him in the heart. He couldn’t think, he couldn’t breathe; he wanted to die. It had been her? All those months of investigating and it had been this woman right in front of him, the one he thought he knew.

“You loved those trees more than you loved me,” she said miserably, but her sadness was nothing compared to his overwhelming grief. He pulled the emerald ring from his pocket, the one that perfectly matched her eyes, and held it up so she could see it.

“I never loved anything more than I loved you,” the man said, fighting to keep his voice from wavering. “Those trees were for you. For us. For the better world we were supposed to be building together.”

The woman gasped, realizing his intent and her mistake. The man shook his head, dropping the ring back into his pocket.

“Now I see that you are too selfish to ever truly support what I am trying to accomplish,” he said. He stood up and left without looking back.

The woman watched him go, feeling like a blind girl finally being able to see. The man’s words resonated within her, in the place where her heart should have been.

“Those trees were for you.”

Funny how five words can change your life.

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