She found it stuck between two floorboards when the dresser was moved. It was sticking out a little, just one corner above the boards. Curious, she pinched it between her fingernails and pulled it out.
It was a small piece of blue cardboard, ripped along the edges. She turned it over and saw her own signature on the back, or at least most of it.
Her mouth fell open as she realised what it must be.
It had been years since she and Ollie had split up. She had almost forgotten about it, but now this tiny piece of card brought it all spilling back into her mind as if it had been yesterday.
Spring was in the air. It was only early February, but the sky was blue and the sun was warm, even if the air wasn’t. She had a spring in her step as she walked home with her carrier bags.
She was usually dreadful at presents. She would spend so long trying to decide on something perfect that she’d end up leaving it far too late. Her perfect presents would be sold to somebody else and she’d have to get something at the absolute last minute, something that would do, not what she wanted. This year would be different. She had planned it all perfectly.
She had a giant card, bought from the card shop in town. It had to be a big card, to express the depth and breadth of her emotions. It was mostly blue, though, not a crass and obvious red. It was more masculine that way. She knew he’d like it. Especially once she had written it- not just “Dear Ollie, Love Kym.” No, that wouldn’t be enough. She was going to put on her CDs, listen to all their favourite songs, find the best lyrics and write them all in the card in different colour pens. It would be a work of art.
Her carefully prepared menu would be the perfect Valentine’s dinner. Lasagne, his favourite, with an expensive wine that the very posh man in the specialist shop had assured her would match it perfectly. Candles, soft music. Then the present. Silk boxers- designer label. He would look gorgeous in them. Not that he would be in them for long. It would be the best Valentine’s day ever. And she was ready for it in record time- everything planned out more than a week in advance.
She spent all evening writing the card. She didn’t hear the phone ring over the music- even if she had, she was sprawled on the bed in the other room with the card on a large drawing board and pens all around her, trying to write as neatly, beautifully and perfectly as possible. Getting up quickly wouldn’t have been easy.
The card finished, she left it open on the dresser so that all the ink would dry before she folded it up and slipped it into the giant envelope. She stretched, smiled, and decided to treat herself to a hot chocolate. She was on the way through the lounge to the kitchen when she saw the flashing message light on her phone. She pressed the big red button, expecting a short message from her mum, perhaps.
“Ummm hi Kym. I, uh, I didn’t really want to do this on a message but, uh, well if you’re not answering my calls I guess… I guess I have to. Kym, I don’t think we should see each other any more. I, uh, that is I met someone. I’m sorry.”
She sat down on the floor with a thump. After the shock subsided, she tried calling him back. He didn’t answer his phone. She sat and cried for what seemed like hours, only stopping when, exhausted, she fell asleep on the floor. She woke up at two in the morning and dragged herself wearily into the bedroom. The card was still there, spread out on the dresser, taunting her. She tore it into tiny pieces, not caring about the mess, screaming out her anger.
Kym knelt on the floor beside her dresser and stared at the small piece of blue card. A smile slowly spread across her face.
Dee leaned over the dresser. “Whatcha got there?”
She looked up with a grin. “Last bit of Ollie’s card. You remember him?”
Her girlfriend smiled back. “Ollie? Isn’t that the guy I ought to thank for meeting you?”
Kym laughed. Dee had been on the tills when she had taken the silk boxers back, tears all down her face. She was the most sympathetic woman Kym had ever met, and she’d insisted on taking a break to share a coffee with a perfect stranger in distress. They hadn’t remained strangers for all that long.
“Yep,” she said. “That’s the one.”
Dee reached out with long, perfect fingers. “Then I’m going to take this,” she said. “I’m gonna put it front and centre in my next scrapbook.”
Kym caught Dee’s hand before she pulled it back and kissed it. Yes, she thought, we really ought to thank Ollie.
© Kari Fay