Monday, February 6, 2012

An Early Wicked Valentine

This is a deliciously wicked tale I wrote for the 2008 SDWI  Valentine's Day Contest (and won it too).


When we were teenagers he would deliver the present by hand, leave it on the inside of the gate meant to keep people like him out.  He’d leave a joint and a drug store teddy bear; items that were easy enough to hide from my parents who did not approve.  There was the long hair, of course, and the questionable family, of course.  I left for college and for life and eventually he did too.  Still, every year, the present would come.

 It was no longer covertly delivered by his hand but out in the open by young men or fat men or baseball capped men in brown uniforms.  When I was single my girlfriends would be jealous of the mystery man who sent roses.  I could, back then, wait until the blooms were almost falling off the stems and then tie them upside down to dry.  They could stay that way all year, hanging in an entryway for me or anyone to see.  Later, I took to saving just one bud, tucking it into a book he had lent me by Tom Robbins, a book that had his handwriting on fourteen pages.  He had lent it to me the last time I saw him.  I had gone to his college graduation, a plane ride to Boston purchased on credit card, and a restless talk fuelled night.  It was the night before he left with a non-governmental organization to travel the world.  We laughed that while I was having happy hour with the girls from work he would be building latrines in the sand and, once it became ubiquitous, we carried on the conversation across oceans and over sand dunes via the world wide web.  And every year the flowers or the candy came even after I wrote him that I was engaged and even after I changed my last name.  The Valentines Day my first year of marriage, I cut the buds off and dried them in a shoe box in my closet.  I pulled apart the clam shell petals and turned the pile into sachets.  Everyday that year my tee shirts, blue jeans, socks and underwear smelled like roses.  Other years I almost didn’t get the delivery before my husband came home.  One year, I took a box of chocolates and cut each one into fourths and baked them into cookies.  I fed them to my young children with tall blue glass tumblers of whole milk.  Another year, I wore the pearl studs he had sent every day to work, taking them out each night on the commute home with one hand and hiding them in a matchbox in the glove compartment.  I enjoyed my small espionage and got away with it each year almost cavalierly.  But his year I have no game to play.  There is no evidence to reshape and the emails I sent sit in the ether unresponded to and most likely unseen and no matter how clever I am, I’ll never really understand.

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