I thought maybe the pressure cooker had blown its top. Elsie dropped her spoon full of ice cream and I jumped from my position in front of the sink where I’d been preparing winter squash for canning.
“Bee, Bee, Bee,” Dora Mae’s voice rang through the neighborhood veritably bouncing off the tall pines.
Both Elsie and I hurried to the door to see what was all the commotion. Dora Mae Davenport stood on my front porch waving an envelope over her head.
“Gracious Dora, you’re going to wake all the neighborhood dogs,” I opened the door and watched as Dora bounced into the house. “What are you going on so about?”
Tears were running down my old friend’s face and she was dancing across the hall. “Jerry is coming home, Jerry, Missy, and the kids.” She nearly knocked over a vase of flowers on the hall table. Elsie reached behind me and caught the vase before it tipped completely over. The cat, peacefully snoozing under the table sprung to her feet and scampered down the hall.
“That’s great Dora,” I had little else I could say. Her son Jerry had been on tour with the United States Army band. The last I heard they were stationed in Germany and the whole family had joined him.
Elsie watched the hallway event, replaced the vase, and then plodded back to the kitchen, her only parting word was, “Oh.” My guess was she was more concerned about her melting ice cream.
Dora Mae lived across the river from Elsie and me. The three of us formed the Twin Rivers Methodist Widows Union and Coffee Club. So far we were the only members, not that there were not more Methodist widows in the vicinity.
I touched Dora’s arm, “come on in the kitchen.” Dora usually pushed her way into any room she pleased but that day she seemed in less control.
“Bee darling,” Elsie added “darling” to every imperative, a direct result of too may “Gone with the Wind” episodes. “Would you be a dear and hand me my iced tea?”
Dora Mae recovered slightly, “Ice cream and sweet tea, really Elsie.” However, she acted as the middle agent in the tea exchange.
Elsie ignored her as usual and Dora Mae settled into one of the kitchen chairs. Immediately, tears began to flow again. “Lookie here,” she said.
I had retreated to the sink and had just picked up a handful of squash cubes. “Dora, can I get you anything?” Elsie reached across the table and handed her a napkin.
“No honey, “ she blubbered, “I’m just excited, is all. Lookie.” She held up a small greeting card envelope.
“Let me see,” said Elsie, wiping her hands on a paper napkin.
“Let me show you.” Dora Mae was not going to let the envelope out of her hands. “You might eat it or something.”
“Be nice Dora,” I scolded.
Dora Mae removed a tiny valentine’s card from the envelope. “Johnny signed it himself, he is so smart.”
“He’s five or six years old isn’t he?” Elsie finally held the card. “Neat, when they coming home?”
“March first I think. But, who knows with the Army.”
“Let me see,” I said, rounding the corner and wiping my hands on my apron. Elsie held up the valentine card. “That’s really sweet Dora. Be sure to bring Jerry, Missy and the kids over when they get here. Tell Jerry he can use the hot tub.”
“That will be nice Bee.”
“Bee’s got an admirer,” Elsie chimed in. “She got flowers in the hallway.”
I gave Elsie a dirty look. While Dora was wiping her eyes I mouthed, “hush.”
“Really Bee?” Dora took the napkin from her eyes.
“Oh, just some flowers to brighten the hallway on a February day,” I lied. Floral delivery brought the flowers earlier in the morning – a valentine gift from my kids, their cards were in the bedroom. However, that afternoon was Dora’s, so I didn’t say more.
“You’re always doing things like that, making this place so cheery. Probably why we come here.” Dora took the card back and put it in the envelope.
Elsie looked over her tea glass and winked.
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