William and Mary exited the church with her parents after saying goodbye to Father Peters.
“Mary,” William said. “How about a walk in the park?”
“That would be lovely,” she said, showing him a rather large smile.
“Have a nice day,” he said to her parents as the held each other and smiled. Her father winked at William, and her mother’s eyes became a bit glassy as she waved, too choked up to say anything else.
They turned the corner toward the park and Mary looked up at her boyfriend. “Can you believe it’s been a year since we met? A whole year.” She put her arm through his and pulled him closer as they passed the five and dime, which was closed.
“Too bad everything is closed, we could have picked up something and had a picnic,” she said to him. He looked at her and smiled.
They continued to the park entrance, which was eerily empty today. Mary stopped. “That’s odd.”
“What is, dear?”
“Where is everyone? Mister Simpson is always feeding the ducks at the pond at this time of day. And this is a park, usually there are children playing! No jumprope, no kites, nothing. Nobody is here.”
He smiled. “It is rather peculiar, isn’t it?” He turned and looked at the Johnsons’ home, noticing the curtains move just the tiniest bit. He knew it was a small town and word traveled fast; it wasn’t the least bit surprising that Mrs. Johnson would take a peek as they passed.
“My, the trees look beautiful, don’t they? Look at all the red and orange. I love Fall,” she said to him as they promenaded through the park. He nodded.
Deep in thought, William hadn’t noticed that his pace quickened and he’d left Mary a few steps behind. He realized it and stopped, waiting for her to catch up. “Did you forget me?” She asked him.
“No, no I guess I was in another world,” he responded.
“Are you nervous about something? You seem to have a small case of the jitters.”
He smiled and took her hand as they walked past the trees, some of which were already bare. He pulled Mary from the path onto the grass toward a hill and the sound of crunching leaves under their feet echoed through the empty park.
“William M. Masters, what’s gotten into you?”
He smiled and led her through a small grove of bright orange and red trees that still had their leaves and there was a red and white checkered blanket with a picnic basket waiting.
“Oh, look at this! Someone has left a perfectly good lunch here,” he said with a sly smile. She squeezed his hand as he brought her over and helped her onto the blanket.
“Why thank you!”
“You’re welcome, darling. Why don’t you go through the basket and see what we’ve got for lunch?”
She got up and walked over to the basket, opened the lid and on top of some chicken, potato salad and fruit she found a small, black box. She picked it up and when she turned to William he was down on one knee.
“Mary, will you marry me and make me the luckiest man in all of Greensville?”
She smiled with a glow and said yes.