by Tom Mahony

My lady and I were in love. There was only one problem: for years she’d harbored an on-again, off-again obsession with John Tesh — the music, the radio show, the mystique. It was a barrier between us. No matter how well we got along, no matter how strong our relationship seemed, she could never quite escape Tesh’s grip.

But things changed during a summer trip to a rustic lodge in the Sierra Nevada mountains. For a week we left society behind, a complete social and media blackout. We hiked through conifer forest, swam in gurgling streams, sunbathed on warm slabs of granite. We dined by candlelight and talked for hours about anything and everything and nothing. I sensed a turning point in our relationship, and it was time to cement it.

One afternoon, while she napped, I hoofed down the road to a general store and purchased a cheap plastic ring from a toy vending machine. I would propose at the next opportune moment. She’d love the quirkiness of the ring, and a proposal in the beautiful mountain setting was a perfect way to begin the rest of our lives together.

That evening, back at the lodge, we lounged on a couch drinking wine beside a roaring fire. We discussed our dreams for the future: a brood of kids, a big house on a leafy street, golden years spent together. I’d never seen her so happy, her eyes wide and playful, her mouth smiling and quick to laugh. As the wine and conversation flowed, I knew the moment was right. I excused myself and hustled to our room to grab the ring.

When I returned — heart pounding with excitement, the plastic ring clasped in my sweaty palm — I saw that things had suddenly changed. Her smile was gone. She stared out the window frowning and muttering, her brow furrowed and fists clenched. A vague desperation hung in the air. I walked over and gently touched her shoulder.

“Tesh again?” I said.

She nodded. A tear rolled down her cheek. I slipped the ring into my pocket. I knew right then we’d never be free.

Damn you John Tesh, I fumed. Damn you to hell.

TOM MAHONY is a biological consultant in California with an M.S. degree from Humboldt State University. His fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in dozens of online and print publications. His first novel, Imperfect Solitude, is forthcoming from Casperian Books on December 1, 2010. Visit him at tommahony.net.

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