Alumna (fiction, ’09) and 2011-2012 Joan Beebe Teaching Fellow Rachel Howard‘s short story “Do-Over” appears online at Tin House.

Do-Over

Julie found it a nice distraction from death to fixate on her engagement ring.

Max approved.  For one thing, it gave them something to shop for on the weekends when he wasn’t traveling for DVD Kiosk investor pitches.  And for another, he was eager to cover the tracks of his earlier bullet-pointed email proposal, which—now that he was no longer on a kamikaze mission to get Julie back—resurfaced in his memory during coffee breaks as an embarrassment that he must erase.

So when a larger-than-usual unemployment check arrived, with a letter from the unemployment administration stating they were fixing an error, Max did not resist Julie’s pleas to spend the windfall on a ring, right away.  Yes, Max would have preferred to use that $2,100 to repay his brother, or get Wells Fargo off his back about the overdraft (the bank was calling every day now, and Max had to silence his cell phone when he was with Julie so she wouldn’t suspect something was up).  And yes, he still thought Julie would be smarter to wait until DVD Kiosk landed the Series A funding, because then Max could buy her the 1.5 carat, color grade D Ascher cut solitaire at Saks.  But Julie had gone to an estate jeweler and found a half-carat emerald-cut diamond with a cloudy inclusion in the center of the stone, which she protested nobody could possibly see.  And the sooner Max got the ring and got down on his knee, the sooner they would have an acceptable engagement story...[Keep Reading]…

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