open it.

by s.m.

Paolo popped the cork from the Moet bottle.  “Open the other one,” he said.

She looked at the little box and was suddenly terrified.  It was too small to be anything but jewelry.  He never got her gifts.  He had just given them a trip to St Kitts.  He was serving champagne.  She felt dizzy, like she was hovering over the scene and watching herself.

He nudged her.  “Open it,” he repeated.

She tore through the paper and lifted the lid on the box to reveal another, smaller box inside.  Red leather with a little gold edging, it looked like a Cartier box.  It was a Cartier box.  She felt certain that she was hyperventilating.  This type of thing was not supposed to happen, not after barely three months, not after a night of fierce sex during which she told him if he gave her head like that he’d never have to give her another gift again.  She’d just introduced him to her family.  She had promised to go to Napoli and meet his for New Year’s.  He was a football player; she didn’t even know if he had a secondary school diploma.  There was obviously some impediment limiting the oxygen traveling to her brain.

He looked at her expectantly.

Her fingers felt numb as they opened the red leather box, and even once she had opened it she blinked several times before she could register a reaction.