I know some of you are still working on submissions for the Themed Thursday. We already have three, so don’t stand on modesty. Let’s get those in today!
In case you haven’t found out some other way, I’m writing guest articles about writing through The Journal of Cultural Conversation. See my newest article, which discusses Eat, Pray, Love versus Julie and Julia.
Also, NQOKD is still seeking guest authors. If you have (or someone you know has) some writing you think would fit in here, send them my way!
On to the story.
“I got a package today,” I said through a smile, my voice a little strained by the heart in my throat. I carried a box into the lonely basement bedroom of the first Boston house I lived in, a two-story duplex out in Newton.
“Oh yeah?” she asked.
“Yeah. And I wonder who it’s from, since the return address is in your hometown. Huh, who could have sent it?” I set the cardboard box down on my bed, dimensions one foot by one foot by one foot.
“I dunno, honey. Sounds like a mystery.” Her voice almost sounded disinterested, almost bored, but I can hear a smile through the phone.
“Oh, well maybe I should wait to open it,” I joked, half-laughing. “Maybe I should wait until I hear from whoever sent it.”
She laughed, and I knew that a smile lit her features then. “And maybe you should just open it, silly.”
“Is it a waffle maker? Did you buy me another waffle press?”
“Shut up and open it, and then you’ll see.”
I took out my keys and used one to pierce the masking tape, dragging it along to split the plastic. “I bet it is another waffle press. You always get me the best presents.”
I slid my arms elbow deep through the Styrofoam peanuts two passed two plastic bags until I felt something solid at the bottom. Grabbing on, I pulled the box straight up, dislodging peanuts and heart confetti. For a moment, as the packing material cascaded to the floor, anyone watching might’ve believed it was Valentine’s day.
“Oh, you sent me a star-shaped box, huh? That’s pretty cool, I guess.”
We laughed for a while before she said, “Look inside, nerd.”
The box held more confetti, a box of Nerds and some other candy, and hundred of little labels ranging from Everything will be alright! to little hearts and other doodads. She must’ve spent hours cutting all of that label tape, typing it all in.
“Aw, honey! This is perfect!” I shouted into the phone. “I can always have a little piece of you with me.” My smile exposed my teeth, a rare expression.
She simply said, “Yeah,” while she listened to me scatter the star’s contents. After a moment, she asked, “What about the other stuff?”
“Other stuff? What other stuff?”
Sarcasm tainted her voice and I could feel her eyes rolling when she said, “Look in the box, stupid!” We laughed again.
I reached in and pulled out the two plastic bags I had felt. I considered them for a moment before I said, confused and a little bewildered, “You bought me… underwear?”
“Yeah,” she answered, her voice rising into almost a question.
“That’s… um, cool.” Uncertainty coated my gratitude.
“Did you look at them?”
I shook my head and blinked a few times while I considered her question, and then I opened a bag and pulled out a pair. On the backsides, she had used iron-on lettering to spell out a phrase on each undie. I LOOOOOOOVE YOU! would stretch across my fat ass to both of our amusements for the next few years.
“Oh, honey!” I cooed. I only continued through laughter: “I’ve never gotten personalized clothing before!”
“First time for everything,” she answered, put at ease.
“It’s perfect, honey. Perfect! Every present from you is better than the one before it.”