"Lizzie!" Mrs. Bennet had only been in Lizzie's new apartment for all of the past 5 minutes and Lizzie was already losing patience with her.
Exasperated she replied, "What mom?"
"These window screens are dreadful! Look how filthy they are. It's no wonder William hasn't proposed yet."
"Mom! We've only been dating for 2 and a half months. We are nowhere close to getting engaged yet. And I doubt that the cleanliness of my window screens contains any factor in that decision." She examined the window screens which honestly looked fine to her. Not dirty enough to make people run in fear from the minuscule amount of dirt and dust collecting on them.
"You should really clean these up before William arrives."
"Mom, they're fine! And besides, William will be here in a half an hour or less."
"I'm shocked he hasn't given up on you yet. I mean look at these things! Mr. Bennet don't you agree?"
Mr. Bennet had been sitting on the chair in Lizzie's small cozy living room perusing a book and snickering at his wife's conversation with his favorite daughter. "They look fine to me dear," he said with a sly smile on his face.
"Well this will just not do! I mean really Elizabeth…" Lizzie knew there was really no point in fighting it. Her mother was not going to give up. And the longer she prolonged the discussion the better chance William would find her washing window screens. So she defeatedly went to grab a bucket and fill with warm soapy water. After getting all 6 screens off the windows she took them to the bathroom to wash them in the tub.
Her mother hovered over her, criticizing her scrubbing technique, "Lizzie! You missed a spot! Right there! No not like that! Didn't I teach you how to properly clean things?" She finally finished scrubbing, and washing, and drying after 20 minutes of Mrs. Bennet's insistent critiquing of her cleaning method. She knew William would be arriving at any moment and hurriedly attempted to get all the screens back in before he arrived.
She was putting in the last screen when she saw him walking down the sidewalk. "Why didn't I put the front ones back on first?" she thought, badgering herself on the idiotic mistake. Sure enough he looked up at that exact moment. His face held a wide smile like it always did when he first caught eyes with her, but his brow was also scrunched up in a rather confused and amused look. Lizzie sighed, quickly hooked the screen back into place, and rushed to the door so she could greet William before he rang the doorbell and her parents were aware of his arrival. "I'm gonna go see how they look from outside mom!" So she had some excuse for being absent from her apartment for the next few minutes.
She opened the door as he was walking up the steps. She closed it as quickly as she had opened it so her parents wouldn't hear his greeting.
He had a bemused look on his face. "Hello Lizzie."
"Hi William," she said with slight embarrassment.
His smile grew a little wider. "May I ask why you were adjusting your window screen?"
Lizzie sighed, "My mother." As if this answer could explain everything. And although that did clarify to William the reason why his girlfriend had been putting in a window screen, he was curious to find out her mother's reasoning.
"Ahh. And what was her purpose behind this task?"
Lizzie closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and explained as quickly as she could. "She was insisting that the reason you haven't proposed yet is because my window screens were dirty. Which they really weren't that dirty but I knew it was a losing battle so I gave in. I knew the longer I argued the more likely it was you would see me and what do you know! Here we are." She waited patiently for him to respond to her explanation.
After a few moments he responded, "She really thought I wouldn't propose because you had dirty window screens?" he asked in a partly amused, partly disbelieving tone.
"I told her that they probably wouldn't factor into the decision but she insisted…"
William laughed. "I suppose we shouldn't be surprised."
Lizzie laughed as well. "No we really shouldn't." Smiling up at him, she leaned in for a kiss. He reciprocated and they were enjoying their little moment of bliss when a loud southern drawl started talking out the window.
Ignoring her daughters current position she said, "Why hello William! It's so nice to see you again! Has my Lizzie shown you her newly cleaned window screens?"
William regrettably pulled away from the pleasant comfort of his girlfriend's lips and replied, "No I'm afraid she hasn't." turning to smirk at Lizzie. They walked towards the windows and Lizzie leaned to whisper in William's ear.
"Do you think we can snag a table that's not next any windows, so my mother has one less segway into a conversation about proposals during dinner?"
"I think that can be arranged." He smiled at her then intently looked at the window screens. "Hmm. I can now say for certain that you are the woman I want to marry. Honestly the cleanliness of those window screens has been the only thing holding me back." he joked.
She poked his side and said, "I love you William Darcy."
"I love you too Lizzie Bennet."