Have you ever dreamed of a future for yourself, one where you made all your own decisions and were perfectly content, only to realize that it would never happen? I certainly have.

 

It had been a couple of months since I met the boy my father wanted me to marry. I admit, at first I did carry a bit of a torch for the boy. There was something about him that intrigued me. As time went on and we began to go on official outings, Anton started to grow on me. Perhaps this would not be so bad… He was funnier than all the other boys I had been forced to meet. Plus he had a love for his country and planned to protect it during the war. Anton seemed to be a noble character, which was better than any of the other boys I went on dates with.

 

Although we were getting along well, there was something about him that I was unsure of. We often got into fights over the smallest of things. There was a specific moment when we were in the marketplace and it was warm outside. I took off my cardigan and he was angered by this. Anton made me put my cardigan back on because I was showing too much skin and he claimed that I looked to be a lady of the evening. Although I disagreed with him immensely, I put my cardigan back on. My father threatened me that if I did not marry Anton, then I would be kicked out of the household. I was frightened of having to live on the streets, so I would go along with Anton as to please my father. Often times I would have to bite my tongue to keep from protesting against something Anton said. Anton was a bit pig-headed and often times would not listen to my own opinions about things.

 

Our relationship was giving me whiplash, for I never knew if he was actually interested in me, or if we were only doing this to please our families. There were moments in our relationship that I felt I could eventually learn to love him. I prayed that things would work out for the better, for he was the one I would have to marry. My father would make sure of it.

 

I went out on a walk one evening after dinner, trying to clear my mind. The situation with Anton was beginning to get hectic and I knew that soon, my father would want us to become engaged and be married. I wasn’t ready for this. Although I enjoyed spending time with Anton, on some occasions that is, I did not want to marry him. Instead of being married so young, I wanted to do other things. I wanted to explore the world and to travel to unknown places. I wanted to fall madly in love with a stranger who knew nothing about me or my family. Every day would be spent doing something new and wild. Malta was not where I wanted to be. I, Makenna, wanted to be free of this place.

 

I returned home from my walk, just as the sun was beginning to set. I entered the house, only to be surrounded by mine and Anton’s entire family. Everyone parted as I entered and it grew silent as I made my way into the living room. There, surrounded by all of our family, was Anton, who was down on one knee. I covered my mouth with my hand, in shock that the proposal was really happening. A part of me was hoping that something bad would happen to Anton so that the engagement would never happen. I didn’t seem to be that lucky.

 

I looked around, meeting the eyes of my family members. My eyes went to my mother, and I hoped she would see that I was pleading for this to stop. She knew I did not want to marry him, but she wouldn’t dare raise her voice to my father. Next I made eye contact with my father. He simply glared at me, silently telling me to accept this marriage proposal or else there would be consequences. Finally, I made eye contact with the boy in front of me, down on one knee. He lifted his hand, holding up a ring. It was a simple gold band with a small emerald on it.

 

“Makenna Geraldi…” He paused, thinking of what to say. I watched him carefully, noticing the forcefulness of his movements and his words. “Would you do me the honor of becoming my wife?” I closed my eyes for a moment, aware of everyone I loved watching me intently for my decision. Taking a deep breath, I opened my eyes again. My line of vision landed on Luca, who was lingering silently in the back of my family, watching me intently. I wondered if he could hear how loudly my heart was pounding, or sense how much I wanted to turn and run. Luca watched me, tilting his head slightly. It was then that I finally recognized the expression on his pale face. Luca pitied me.

 

I took one final deep breath before looking back at Anton. “Yes.”

 

My family began to clap and hugs were exchanged as Anton rose from his position on the floor and slid the ring onto my finger. Instantly I was greeted by all of my siblings, all of whom began to hug me and congratulate me on my proposal to Anton. It was in the midst of hugs and appreciation that I realized how much I wanted to run away and never look back.

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