The Gift {Short Story Part Three}


I'm still having fun writing this.  I hope you still enjoy reading.  As with every part of this short story, stop me at any time.  Be my editor and my critic.  I can take it.  Give me pointers on how to write dialogue.  Tell me when I'm spending too much on something and not enough on another.  If you are just joining the story, you can read part one and part two, before continuing on to part three.  It all started with a simple prompt and has taken on a life of it's own.



The Gift

A rosy and rambunctious Ed answered the door with a grand slosh of his highball glass.  Whiskey I assumed, and it wasn’t his first.

“Well it’s about damn time Witter, where they hell have you been?”, Ed boomed, and slapped Caleb on the back, knocking a bit of air out of him.

“Sorry, sorry”, I apologized as I walked in behind them, and stopping as I came into the living room.  Tara and Mike, sat side by side, like matched set.  Nina was on the chaise, with Peter at her feet.  They all looked up, and smiled.  We hadn’t been together like this in months.

“Don’t you apologize.  We thought you’d changed your mind”, Nina said, waving her hand as if she owned the place.  That was the thing about Nina, she always owned the place, whether it was her’s to own or not.

“That’s a great dress”, Tara said from her place beside Mike.  They looked blissful sitting next to each other.  They were holding hands, like newlyweds, even though they had been married for close to six years.

“Thanks, it’s…”, but before I could finish I heard her voice.

“Well I hope you brought me one hell of a gift to make up for being so late”, she too was booming tonight.  I suspected there was wine behind this cheerful taunt, yet I could feel a darker tone in her voice.

“Oh shit”, I said as I started to blush.  “It’s…” on the kitchen counter.

“In the car.  I’ll get it”, and with that Caleb was out the door.  I almost cried with relief that he had remembered to grab it.

As we waited for Caleb to retrieve the gift, I sat next to the matched set of Parkers (Tara and Mike), while Ed, poured me a glass of something red.  I didn’t have the heart to tell him red wine wasn’t my favorite, but I took a sip and smiled anyway.  Melissa just stood there, expectantly.

Oh, right, it’s her birthday.

I stood up and made my way across the room.

“Happy Birthday Mel, you look amazing tonight”, and with that I hugged her.

“Well Thank you Jenn, you look pretty good yourself.  New dress?”

“Yes, I was just telling Tara...”

“Finally’, she said, but then I realized she was talking about Caleb's return.

Melissa took the bag from Caleb and set it on the coffee table with the other gifts.  Caleb joined me and the Parkers on the couch.  Melissa and Ed stood in front of their fireplace.  

“Let’s have a toast to the birthday girl, my beautiful wife, Mel.  Mel, happy 2nd 29th birthday”, Ed bellowed as he raised his glass.

“Cheers”, we replied in unison.

“Are we doing gifts now?”, Nina asked.

“Yes, because you have to see what Ed got me before we get too drunk”, Melissa replied.

We watched as Melissa made her way through tissue paper and custom gift wrap.  A spa gift certificate, from the Parkers.  A pound of gourmet coffee and a French press from Nina and Pete.  Did Mel even know what to do with a French Press?  

Mel came to my gift.  I held my breath.  It wasn’t extravagant, but it was thoughtful.  She carefully opened the pink zebra stripped bag that I bought at the store along with formula, diapers, and a People magazine.  It paled in comparison to the fancy wrapping of the other gifts.  This was my life now I thought.  Drugstore gift wrap.

Mel lifted the bottle of wine out of the bag.  She looked at me in confusion, and then at the label.

“Four Corners Vineyard.  2000”, she whispered.

“The one and only”, I said.

“Where we met those Canadians and we got in a fight about California wines versus French wines?”

“Yes, but that was all you.  I still don’t know anything about wine”.

“Four Corners.  That was a trip”, Mel said, placing the bottle on the table.  “It feels like a hundred years ago”.  It was actually twelve.  To celebrate college graduation.  I bought that bottle of wine back then.  I still had yet to find an occasion to open it.  It seemed too special. But now, with no money for a proper gift, I gave the only one I knew I could afford.  A happy memory.

“Those were the days”, I replied back.  Because they were.  Before careers, before husbands, before babies.  Before the two of us had to grow up.  Before the two of us became strangers.

2 comments:

  1. More please!!!! I know I sound like a broken record but u r so talented!

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  2. I just caught up on all 3 segments today - and this is a GREAT short story! I love how you made Caleb seem awful, but he came through in a clutch. Can't wait to see what else you put together :)

    ReplyDelete