Later that evening, they sat alone in their apartment, wondering if they had made the right
decision. Barb and Gary sat across from each other at their tiny kitchen table. The Scrabble™
board placed in front of them.

Gary handed the cloth bag of tiles over to Barb and thought, hope this game will take my
mind off what we’ve just done.
He rubbed the back of his neck because he could feel it tightening

Barb reached her left arm out over the table to take the bag and thought, has my mother
pushed me into marrying him?
She noticed her fiancé watching and she beamed a big smile at
him across the table as she selected one tiny square.

Gary brought the bag back towards himself. We’ve only lived together for about a year
now. That’s not enough time to really get to know he
r. He crossed his arms in front of himself.

She looked at the tile she took and said, “It’s an M.” But she thought, have I made a

They both knew the player that gets the letter closest to the letter A goes first.

“I’ve got a G. I start.” Gary reached back inside the bag and counted out six more little
tiles and thought, is this next step too fast? I don’t like commitment. He could feel his hand shake
slightly as he handed the bag of tiles back to Barb.

Moving in with him five months ago was such a huge step and getting rid of his old
secondhand furniture was a difficult process,
she thought as she slowly counted out six more
tiles and placed them on the tray in front of her.

Gary studied his seven tiles and laid down letters to spell B, E, D, thinking, shopping for
new furniture was expensive, but I especially like the bigger bed. We sure have had some good
times in that bed.
“That’s six points,” he told her.

“Let’s see.” Barb’s voice sounded a little doubtful as she looked at the instruction sheet to
tally up the points. “The B is three points. E one point and D two points.” She wrote a six under
his name. My mother kept badgering me that we were living in sin, we should get married before
we HAD to marry. Oh my God, she is so old-fashioned.

Gary drew three new tiles from the bag. Does everyone have doubts? “I’m going to get
some chips.” He pushed his chair back and stood. He reached his long lanky body to the counter
to grab the bag of chips.

How can he eat already? Barb studied her mixture of letters before her. We just left the
restaurant where we announced our engagement to our parents.
Then she picked up an R, I, D,
E off her wooden stand and placed them to touch Gary’s B. “R, E, and I are only worth one each
and a D is worth two points.” That was nice of our fathers to split the tab. She wrote a five under
her name.

He sat and dug his hand into the bag of chips. Then placed a W and an E before her D
thinking, How long can I drag this engagement out before we have to do this whole thing?

“Can you put the bag on the table so we can both have some?” How big of a wedding will
my dad be willing to pay for?
She rearranged the tiles on her wooden stand.

Gary placed the plastic bag of chips to the side of the game board. Worst case scenario,
we end up divorcing like Jason and Sadie.

Barb looked at the brand new engagement ring on her left hand and took a handful of
potato chips with her right.

“It’s your turn.” Gary rolled his shoulders back trying to relieve the tension. Of course,
there’s the honeymoon. Where can we afford to go?

“I know. Don’t rush me.” She slowly munched on the chips. Then she perked up and
placed an A, G, R, E above Gary’s E on the board. Should I ask Jackie or Becky to be my maid of
Then, verifying the values, she said, “That’s five points for me.” She took four more
square tiles from the bag. She started to rub a hand over her churning stomach.

Wonder if I could talk her into returning the ring to the jeweler to pay for a fabulous trip
somewhere? Just skip all this marriage nonsense.
“I’m going to use a blank and make it an O.”
Gary added an R, the blank and M after the G. His right leg started a nervous tap, tapping on the

Barb began twisting the engagement ring around her finger. “You get five more points
for that.” This is crazy. I’m too young to commit, she told herself. Proudly she added a J and a Y
to each side of his blank O. “I get to use a J and a Y. Wow, that’s twelve points,” she said after
verifying with the instruction sheet.

I’m not old enough to settle down with a girl. What have I done? Gary could feel
perspiration across his forehead. He shifted in his seat, then stood. “I’m getting a Coke. You
want one?”

“Yeah.” She rearranged the tiles in her stand to keep her hands busy.

As he returned from the refrigerator with the two cans, he looked down at the Scrabble
board. His eyes opened wider. “Do you see what we’ve just done?”

“What?” Her face darted up at him.

“Stand up.” He was pointing at the pieces in the middle of the game board.

Barb stood. “Joy, groom, bed, bride, wed.” She started to chuckle.

He was laughing. “Don’t miss the word agree. I guess we don’t have any reservations?”

Or do we?

Susan Wells is a 2018 graduate of Citizen’s Police Academy and completed a ride along in 2019. Secret Lives, her first mystery novel, has received 4 stars on Goodreads. She has been published in Chicagoland Gardening, Garden Glories, Reminisce, and Birds & Blooms magazines, local newspapers, The Daily Herald, and various local fiction and poetry anthologies. She has begun her second novel, a mystery titled Samaritan Sins, with the same detective team. She is a member of Facebook’s Mystery Writers, Reedsy and American Christian Fiction Writers. Susan has been a finalist in a ReedsyPrompt five times during 2021.

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