I woke with a start and sat up in bed. I tried to catch my breath. Did I oversleep? Slowly I lay back down and collected my thoughts. I looked at the time on the alarm clock. 6:17 a.m. I listened to the sounds in the house, to my husband’s quiet snores. Quiet. Peaceful. I finally relaxed and realized what day it was.
Carefully getting out of bed, I pulled on my robe and tucked my feet into slippers. Softly I tipped toed downstairs to the living room. With a click, the lights to the Christmas tree came alive. It stood tall in the corner glowing from the many lights. Beautiful, if I do say so myself.
Today was Christmas! I felt so blessed and excited to celebrate Christmas day this year as a married woman. I removed a gold ball ornament off the tree. Carrying it with me into the kitchen, I thought back to the day when I acquired it, and my husband.
During my last year of college, I lived in an apartment above a flower shop. I developed a daily routine to walk up the alley stairs to the second floor. The reason? Flowers. The storeowner would toss out flowers into a dumpster that weren’t good enough to sell, but they looked fine on my tiny kitchen table.
It was the day before Thanksgiving and I came home after classes around noon. I wasn’t going to dumpster-dive for flowers. I was leaving for home for the next four days. Then I thought it’d be nice to take some for the Thanksgiving table.
This time, among the flowers, were lots of Christmas ornaments. Realizing I didn’t have any and thought well, what a great time to start collecting some. A clear bag of shiny gold ball shaped ornaments tempted me. And just my luck! They were way down at the bottom of the smelly dumpster.
Nothing was going to stop me from getting those free ornaments. I stuffed my loose hair in my cap and then pulled it down tight around my head. I jumped so my body hinged on the edge, my arms stretched and reached way down to fetch the bag. I was getting a good grip on them when I heard someone clear their throat.
“Oh!” Started, I tumbled in.
A young man quickly came to the dumpster and looked down at me. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you like that.”
“Well, you did! I had no idea anyone was around.” I snapped. My stocking cap covered my eyes. I smelled something that wasn’t pleasant and saw some unidentified goop on my jeans.
“Are you all right?” He offered me his hand and pulled me out. He was tall and thin, but he had a lot of strength. He practically lifted me out.
“Sure,” I said when my feet touched the ground. I pushed my stocking cap out of my eyes.
“Why are you digging around in our trash?”
“Your trash? I…” Panic hit me. Was it illegal to dumpster dive?
He looked at me closer. “I’ve noticed you before. You live in 2B, right?”
I could only nod my head yes. Great! Now the cops knew where to find me.
“My uncle owns this place.”
More bad luck, the nephew caught me.
“Oh, I see,” I said, finally, feeling my face turn red.
“Find what you need?” Was there a hint of laughter behind that question? I could have sworn there was a twinkle in his eye. Twinkle or not, he held me spell-bound with his beautiful brown eyes. I felt an instant attraction, but I didn’t think it was mutual.
“Um…yeah. I didn’t have any for my tree,” I explained. Feeling very foolish, I looked down and mumbled, “Here.” I pushed the sack into his hand. “Gotta go. See ya.”
As I started to run up the steps, he called, “Hey, dumpster girl, I won’t tell if…”
Dumpster girl? I stopped. Turning, I fearfully asked, “If what?”
He handed back the sack. “If you’ll go out with me.”
I heard my husband’s footsteps coming down the stairs bringing me back to the present. My husband. My heart swelled with love and I gave the gold ball a quick kiss.
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