Ultraviolet catastrophe.

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An evening walk in the local park was often the best part of Niel’s day. An opportunity to wind down, to plan future work and explorations. Half the reason he had got Planck was to have a reason to do this. The black labrador was even now wandering across the path to investigate a lamp post. It was only when Neil glanced up still smiling at Planck's insatiable curiosity that he noticed the girl jogging towards him. She was looking at her ipod and before he could pull Planck back or shout a warning she was face down on the black path in front of him.

‘I am so sorry… I didn’t see.. I mean I…’ he reached down to help the girl up, but her hands batted him away, annoyance written on her pale face.
‘Are you ok? I really am sorry, he was just…’ She silently glared at him, brushing the gravel from her arms and inspecting the light graze, red blood already seeping into the small scratches. She was slightly shorter than him, and somehow it made him feel worse, like he should have protected her.
‘Look, can I make it up to you, do you need a drink or..’
‘You’re asking me on a date? That’s your way of trying to make things better?’ She looked up at him as she scraped her red hair back into a ponytail. He gaped at her, unsure of how to respond, unsure of where this conversation was now going.
‘I..’
‘Ok then, I guess it’s better than nothing. I’ll see you tomorrow at 7, we’ll meet here.’ And with a smile she was off running along the path.

Niel was unsure what to expect as he waited the next evening. He had dressed carefully, unsure what this was he had opted for a light orange shirt and jeans, a choice he was now regretting. Yellow? was that ok? Should he have played it safe? Was this really a date, he didn't even know her. 7pm exactly she arrived. Her running gear replaced with a soft orange summer dress, he cringed, it was like they had matching wardrobes. Her face as she looked him up and down clearly said that she thought the same.
‘No dog?’
‘No, Planck is at home, it’s a little bit late for him.’
‘Planck?’
‘Named after Max Planck...he’s one of the first people to discover Quantum theory.’ she raised her eyebrows. ‘I’m a quantum physicist’
‘Wow. intelligent then? Explains the lack of observation.’ her smile softened the jibe, and to his surprise he found himself smiling back.

They went to a local pub ‘The Yellow Sun’. It was quiet on a Wednesday evening, they both ordered local ale and sat outside in the small paved garden. The evening passed quickly, and before Neil knew it last orders were called and they were still chatting. He was even more surprised when she asked for some paper from the barmaid and wrote down her number asking her to call him. He went home with that scrap of yellow paper in his hand and a feeling that the world was smiling on him.
And that was how it started. She joked with friends about how she had ‘fallen’ for him, and Neil felt himself falling deeper and deeper as time went on. They went on weekends away and had lazy sundays in bed, and Neil felt like he had come home.

After 8 months he found himself stood in a jewelers confused and overwhelmed by the array of sparkling white diamond rings in front of him.
‘What cut are you looking for sir? We have pear, cushioned, princess, radiant.’ The girl behind the counter looked slightly bored.
‘Radiant, radiant I think.’
And what about the carat and the clarity sir?’
Here Neil was on firmer ground. ‘I would like a diamond with a flaw’. The girl sneered a little as she pulled out a cheaper drawer of rings.
‘The cost isn’t a problem.’ he explained ‘It’s just that the flaws will hold our memories.’
20 minutes later Neil left the shop with a small white box tied with a blue ribbon.

He had spent weeks planning. The box feeling like a beacon hidden in the back of the drawer, but finally the day arrived. He had asked her to meet him in the park near where he had tripped her. There was a champagne picnic and the sky was a beautiful crystal blue. They ate,laughed, drank, Planck begging the occasional piece of food, their conversation punctuated with gentle caresses.

As dusk drew in the clouds came too, blanketing the blue sky in soft white. Neil fumbled in his pocket for the box, wanting them to watch the sunset in their new state of happiness. He cleared his throat and went to one knee. He had never been good with words and this moment did not seem to need any.

She looked from him to box, and said nothing. Niel was confused, perhaps words were necessary. He took a deep breath.
‘There are only two possibilities: yes or no.’ she stared for a moment at the box and then finally looking him in the eye she spoke softly.
‘I’m sorry. I can’t’ she stood up tears in her eyes, patted Planck on the head and slowly walked away.
Neil sat looking at the white box in his hand. It felt like he sat there for hours, but when he looked up the sunset had only just started. The sun a deep yellow ball on the horizon spreading streaks of orange and then red across the clouds. Only when it had faded into the black of the night sky Neil realised that it was over.

He packed up the picnic and called Planck to him. Planck led them back through the park in the gathering darkness, Neil focusing his damp eyes on the back of the black dog.

About the Author: 
Cat is a Drama teacher in Vietnam who is always interested in learning more about the universe.
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