I'd been engaged to Owen for three long depressing years. Polite people called him 'frugal' but I just called him 'stingy'. At first I thought it was funny how he pinched pennies and always took me out to the cheapest restaurants in town and when I say restaurants I mean the local Chinese or if I was really lucky the $5.00 Sunday roast at the RSL club.
I've never been stingy with my money and Owen's behaviour really started to wear thin with me but he was good to me in others ways so I tried to ignore his reluctance to open his wallet wherever possible and usually just paid for things myself to keep the peace. The final straw came one night when we were out with friends and work colleagues at a beautiful seafood restaurant celebrating the engagement of our work-mate Sarah and her fiancé Nick. The happy couple had paid for trays of delicious nibblies and champagne for us to enjoy but due to the big turn-out we all agreed to pay for our own meals. Everyone was fine with that, we were just happy to be there- everyone that is, except Owen.
"$100.00 for a seafood platter for two, are you serious Anna? I am NOT paying $50 for my half of a seafood platter!"
"Shhhhhhh!" I said looking around. "It's not that expensive Owen, this is a really good restaurant and how often do we lash out? C'mon don't make a fuss, everyone else is happy to pay..." I pleaded in whispers. Everyone knew what Owen was like but just once I wanted to have a normal dinner with no dramas, just once! Was that too much to ask for?
"I'm not paying that Anna and that's final. If you want it so badly you can pay for it" hissed Owen as he pushed the laminated menu away abruptly.
I sighed and felt that familiar heaviness settle over me, the sadness and futility that I always felt when Owen behaved like this. Most men would pay not only for their own half but for their fiances, too. Not Owen. Never Owen.
Just as I was about to agree to pay for the whole thing as he knew I would, I noticed Owen had perked up considerably. To his right was Selina, the new receptionist at work who clearly got the position for skills and assets that weren't listed on her resume. Selina was laughing at something Owen had said as he reached over her and topped up her glass of champagne. Always the gentlemen when someone else was footing the bill!
A hundred different occasions flashed through my mind where Owen had made me feel less than worthy by making me pay or go without or share a main meal with him! Worst of all was the time I had to invent a suitable birthday present to tell everyone about because he'd only bought me a $25 lottery pack with not even a birthday card to accompany it. I didn't want my family and friends to hate Owen so it was easier to lie about things like that.
The only thing I did that Owen supported was entering competitions; 25 Words-or-less were my speciality. I had a bit of a knack for throwing together clever entries and had won some terrific little prizes over the last few years we'd been together. Owen supported this only because it cost me nothing to email an entry and often reaped dividends. The weekend in the Blue Mountains I won was valued at $500!
What I had failed to tell Owen before we'd come out tonight was that I'd won another prize today. I'd been informed that my entry had been chosen over thousands of others and that I was now the proud owner of a house valued at $475 000 on the Gold Coast!
I had planned on telling Owen tonight while we were in party mode but seeing my fiancé sit there flirting with another woman while I yet again planned on paying for our meal was finally too much. I took off the cheap thin engagement ring that I'm pretty sure he got from cash-converters and dropped it in his Champagne glass. As it dropped into the glass it made a faint plopping sound, surprising considering how light it was.
Owen heard the noise, looked at the ring in the glass and looked up at me with a puzzled expression on his face- "Where are you going?" he said impatiently "and why did you do that!?"
"Goodbye Owen, I hope Selina doesn't mind forking-out for your lobster tonight because I sure as hell won't be. I'll send you a postcard from the Gold Coast. Oh, I forgot to tell you? Yes, I won a house worth half a million dollars in a competition! Can you believe that? That'd pay for a few seafood platters wouldn't it Owen?" I said beaming.
And I turned on my heel and walked away from my stingy past.
Names have been changed. Picture posed by models.
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