I gently opened the flap and pulled out a white card.
It said, “Charlie. I hope this makes you happy. Seeing you always makes me happy.”
I immediately got tears in my eyes. I took a deep breath and exhaled a little shakily.
I handed it over to Abby who was impatiently reaching for it.
“NOT SIGNED!!! IT’S NOT SIGNED!!!. Abby shouted as she read the card.
“That’s it. I’m done.” And Stella got up, stretched quickly and jumped down to the floor. She headed off to the top of the living room sofa, to begin one of her many daily vigils of the front sidewalk.
“I cannot believe it is not signed. This is pure torture.” Abby tossed the card back down on the table, got up and started to clear away the last of the dishes.
I looked at her in shock.
“YOU can’s believe it!” I almost shouted at her. “YOU can’t believe it…how do you think I feel?”
“For the first time in months I have something, ‘maybe kind of swell’, happening to me and it’s a secret.” I shook my head in sad exasperation.
And then I looked at the beautiful rose again. I picked it up and sniffed. It was wonderful to smell something like this in the middle of winter on one of the coldest days of the year. I smiled and carefully laid it back in the box.
“Abby, have you seen a small vase anywhere? You get so many flowers from Ralph…” I turned to talk to Abby but she had gone.
I got up and pulled a kitchen chair over to a seldom used cupboard over the stove.
“I think this is where mom kept vases.” I said to myself since apparently no one was around to listen to me. I rummaged around and found an old, small, painted vase. It was the smallest of the lot so it would have to do. It was pretty, too.
I got down , shoved the chair back and went to the sink to fill the vase with water.
“Why doesn’t he want me to know who he is?” I asked Abby who had returned to the kitchen.
“Well, I hate to say this. But maybe he’s a married guy and just wanted to do something nice for you, like Jake? He would have seen how much you were hurting last night.” Abby was speaking carefully, not wanting to upset me by using the word married and Jake in the same sentence.
I carried the vase over to the table, put it down and carefully added the rose and the greenery that had come with it. I gently touched a yellow petal.
“Or Bobby?” I mused. “He did seem to be paying more attention to me than usual last night…or at least I think so.”.
“I hope it’s not from some creep who’s going to start stalking us!”