Rainey was less than happy when Joe asked her to accept a very important delivery he was expecting. It had to be signed for, he told her, “and I’ll be at work.” She knew that was code for, “while you get to stay home and do whatever you please, so the least you can do for me is this one, small favor.” Words like that were better left unspoken, but they rolled around underfoot like unexploded ordinance.
She’d had plans for that day, a day of sunshine after ever-lasting showers. It would have been good to get out. Instead, she was stuck waiting for the doorbell to ring. But she acquiesced because that’s what married people do for each other. It meant she’d miss the second monthly Friends of the Library meeting. Not that her presence was essential, but it was a group she enjoyed and she hated to miss two meetings in a row. They’d think she was sick or something.
With her plans laid waste, she found it hard to settle herself. She read the morning paper for a few minutes, then tossed it aside. Picked up her library book, but couldn’t get interested. Watched ten minutes of the morning news before giving up in disgust.
She phoned Joe at work. “Are you absolutely positive your package is coming today? Do you have any idea what time?”
“You know better than to ask. Amazon giveth and Amazon taketh away, but Amazon saith not what time. They did say what day, though, and it’s today. Why? Is it too much trouble for you?”
“No, no, I’ll do it. Just wondering.”
“Look, I don’t ask for much,” Joe’s voice took on the whiny tone she hated.
“I said I’ll do it. There’s the doorbell now.”
She hurried to the door, but was only in time to see the delivery guy swing into his truck and zoom away. So much for the all-important signature. She looked right and left, but there was no large brown cardboard box on the porch. Then she spotted a florist’s arrangement of bright yellow sunflowers tucked beside the doorstep. They flared like a beacon against the brick of the house.
“Wow! What special occasion did I forget?” She scooped up the flowers and searched for a card, but there didn’t seem to be one.
“That Joe! He’s making up for ruining my day. How lovely.”
She reached for her phone and punched redial.
“Joe, you’re a sweetheart! Thank you for these beautiful flowers.”
“Flowers? I don’t know what you’re talking about, honey.”
“Oh, c’mon. Who else would send me flowers? There’s no card, but I know they’re from you. What a nice way to thank me for staying home to receive your delivery. Which, by the way, hasn’t come yet.”
“Yeah, that would’ve been nice, all right. Wish I’d thought of it.”
“You really didn’t send them?” She heard her voice go soft with disappointment.
“Sorry, I really didn’t. Look, gotta run, see you tonight.”
And he was gone, leaving her with what she was beginning to think of as the Mystery of the Flowers. Maybe they’d been delivered to her house in error. But no, there was her name and address on the little envelope. The enclosure had apparently gotten lost.
Could it have been her parents? They’d never done such a thing in their frugal lives. Her sister, ditto. Her brother – forget it, not if he lived to be a hundred. One of her friends? It wasn’t her birthday, nor had she done anything noteworthy that called for a floral tribute.
An old boyfriend then, someone who still thought of her fondly. Her memory turned to a certain boy she’d dated in college. She remembered his soft brown eyes, his kiss. But that was thirty years ago; she was married now and undoubtedly so was he.
Maybe the flowers were sent by a shy neighbor, someone who thought she was special, who liked to see her walking the dog or weeding the flower-bed. Glancing down at her frayed jeans and stretched tee shirt, she ruled that out. Neighbors saw too much to have any illusions. No, it had to be someone else. But who?
The sunflowers were losing some of their appeal. In fact, they were beginning to give her a headache. Hoping Joe’s package wouldn’t come for a few more minutes, she headed down the driveway for a mind-clearing walk.
Her eye caught on a square of white at the curb where the delivery truck had paused. Stooping, she saw it was a florist’s card. Aha! Here it was, the answer to the Mystery of the Flowers. All her speculation was about to end. She’d know who admired her, who wanted to brighten her day, who might be thinking of her that very minute.
She postponed looking at the card, savoring the moment, speculating. Life was full of unexpected twists. What might be set in motion by the little piece of card stock in her hand? With a shiver of anticipation, she raised it to her eyes and read:
“Get well soon. Friends of the Library.”
Rainey didn’t cook supper that night. When Joe came home, he found her in bed with no sunflowers in sight.
“What’s wrong? Are you sick?” he asked.
“Apparently, and I’m not getting up until I’m better,” she said. “From now on, you can sign for your own darn deliveries.”