The Mischievous Nerd's Guide to World Domination
Author: Stephen Oberauer

Chapter 70
Out of the shadows

It was 2004, and Shelley and I had been sneaking around for three years. We had figured out new ways to see each other, and she’d often join me for band practice. In February, 2004 a graphic design position had opened up at Beyond Insurance and I jumped at the opportunity to have them employ Shelley. That way we were able to see each other nearly every day without her having to pretend to be somewhere else. During my three years at BI I had found out what the secret room was for, and the two of us would often spend time making use of the lock on the inside of the door.

Shelley and I had often mentioned marriage to each other, and it was obvious that we were never going to split up. We were sitting in my attic bedroom one evening, and I asked her, ‘How are we ever going to get married, without your parents finding out? Maybe we should just tell them and get it over with.’

‘I know,’ she replied. ‘I’m just worried about what my family and friends will do.’

‘We have a new family at BI,’ I said, without thinking.

‘How would you feel?’ she asked.

‘Sorry,’ I replied. ‘But do you really want to belong to a group that would be so eager to get rid of you for a difference of opinion? I’m sure that anyone who really cares about you will still be your friend.’

‘You’ve got a point,’ she said. ‘It’s just such a horrible thought that people are going to treat me like some kind of criminal.’ Shelley lay down on the bed, and hugging my pillow, she continued, ‘It would be cool if there was some kind of a group that had all the benefits of religion, like close friends that feel like family, and good morals, but none of the bad stuff, like not allowing people to join if they didn’t believe exactly what the religion believed, and not telling you that you’re going to die eternally because you don’t like what they say.’

‘We sort of have that with BI,’ I commented.

‘Yes, but it’s still limited to only a few people. You can’t just join it.’ Shelley paused for a moment, rotated onto her back, and then said, ‘You know what? You’re right. If anyone has a problem with you and me, they can go and jump in a lake. No-one in their right mind is going to attend a party for self-righteous losers, and why would I want to? Let’s just get married.’

And so, Shelley and I decided to be strong, and come out of hiding. Anyone who supported us would be our friends, and anyone who had a problem with us would be forgotten. From that day onwards, whenever I wanted to visit Shelley, I would go to the front door and ring the overly enormous bell. There was nothing that anyone could do to stop us.

On the 27th of May I took Shelley to look at engagement rings. The plan was that she would show me a few that she liked and then I would come back by myself and pick one. In the first shop we looked at, she found something that she instantly fell in love with. It was a set of rings, including the two wedding rings and an engagement ring. They were called the ‘Secret diamond’ collection, because each gold ring had a secret diamond on the inside, with the words ‘Forever’ engraved next to the diamonds. That day, after taking her home, I went straight back to the shop and bought the three rings. Over the next two weeks I took her to five more jewellery stores, so that she could choose more rings that she liked. It was really just to throw her off track, so that she would think I wasn’t getting the rings that she liked so much.

On Wednesday, the 16th of June I took Shelley up Table Mountain Cableway. Because we could work flexible hours, and being the middle of winter, we had the entire cable car to ourselves. It was a bit cold, but a sunny and calm day. Shelley kept walking from one side of the car to the other, taking pictures of the scenery a thousand metres below. When we had reached the highest point of the mountain, overlooking the houses, the city and the sea, I went down on one knee and recited the short speech that I had prepared, ‘Shelley, when I’m with you I feel like I’m part of the greatest team on Earth. I feel like we can change the world. I feel like we can accomplish anything. I love you with all my heart. Will you do me the honour of being my wife?’ Shelley started crying as I pulled the little box out of my pocket, and opened it, displaying the diamond ring, sparkling in the sunlight.

‘Of course I will,’ she replied, and gave me a hug. A couple standing nearby, who saw what I was doing, applauded.

That evening we told our exciting news to our parents. My parents gave us hugs and my dad opened a bottle of champagne, sharing it amongst the four of us. Afterwards we walked to Shelley’s house to spread the good news further.

Shelley took her key out of her pocket and attempted to open the front door. The key rattled against the brass lock, but would not go in. She dropped the key, bent over, picked it up and took a deep breath. I put my right arm around her to comfort her.

‘Telling your parents that you got engaged shouldn’t have to be the scariest thing you’ve ever done,’ she told me nervously. I hugged her and kissed the top of her head.

‘Give me the key,’ I asked, holding my hand out.

I unlocked the door and we both walked inside. We walked into the lounge, where Shelley’s parents were sitting and greeted them. Instead of telling them the news, Shelley looked down and held out her left hand to show them the sparkling, diamond ring.

Her parents were not pleased. ‘Are you sure that’s a good idea?’ her father asked sternly.

Shelley started crying and managed to say something that sounded like, ‘Nathan is the best husband I could possibly wish for.’

‘But he’s not a Witness,’ her dad whispered to her.

Shelley’s voice became louder and told her dad, ‘Nathan does more good than anyone else we know! Actually, he does more good than everyone else we know put together!’

‘You cannot do this,’ her dad told her.

‘I am doing this,’ she replied. ‘I love you both, and we’re going to go away, until you’re willing to accept us.’

Shelley took my hand and led me out of the door. That night Shelley slept over at my house, and the next day we found a flat that we had planned to rent until we got married.


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