Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Anniversary (04/11/05)
TITLE: Freddy's Fifth
By Karen Deikun
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On their first anniversary, Tay left work early. She bought all the ingredients for Freddy’s favorite dinner, and cooked up a storm. Candles stood ready to light and Tay waited as the clock ticked. He came home three hours late, looked at the candles and said: “Oh, guess I ruined the dinner, huh?” He gave her a little hug by way of apology, and turned on the TV. He’d had a rough day at the office, so he needed to veg. She brought dinner down to him but he wished she’d waited until he’d actually gotten home before she started cooking. The meat was a little tough. He didn’t notice the tears in her eyes.
The following year, Tay teasingly reminded him of their upcoming second anniversary. She was sure things would be different this time. Sure enough, they were. He called, excitedly telling her that his friend Ed had gotten tickets for all the guys to go to the football game. He hoped she didn’t mind. He said they could go out for dinner on the weekend. It would be better that way anyhow, because he wouldn’t be tired from a long day at the office. Somehow, the weekend got busy, and the dinner never happened.
The third year, he didn’t forget, though. He came home an hour late, but he had a great excuse! He’d spent the whole afternoon shopping for their anniversary gift. He began bringing in box after large box – a complete home theatre set up! It was just what they needed! She didn’t even remind him that she rarely watched TV. He told her about woofers and pixels as he set up the equipment. At midnight, when he finally finished, he urged her to sit down with him on the couch and watch their wonderful new big screen TV and listen to the amazing surround sound. He commented that the other guys would be so jealous, and they’d probably be over watching the games all the time. He put his arm around her stiff shoulders, excited as a boy with his first electric train. Tay went to bed, leaving him to watch a late night show.
When year number four came around, he asked his secretary to remind him of the date, but somehow, she overlooked it. The day came and went: Tay didn’t even mention it. But they did celebrate his promotion that year to department head. The dinner was held at a fine restaurant and Freddy jokingly told his wife that it was such a grand affair that it should cover their anniversary as well.
On their fifth anniversary, Freddy’s secretary dutifully reminded him of the date. He asked her to order flowers and have them sent to his house, and to reserve a table at the new French restaurant. His wife would be awed; he was sure. The fine French food and the intimate atmosphere would surely impress her. He called her at work and left a message on her voice mail to be at the restaurant at six, and just in case, he also left a message at home.
Pierre’s was crowded that evening as Freddy waited. By quarter past six, he got out his cell phone to call the house. No answer. She must be on her way. He called again fifteen minutes later. “Where could she be?” he asked himself. At half-past seven he left, angrier than he’d been in a long time. How could she keep him waiting like that and not even call?
The porch light went on automatically as he searched for his key, and he saw the box from the florist sitting there – the pretty flowers peeping through the cellophane. She hadn’t seen the flowers. She hadn’t been home. The house was dark, and Freddy felt a moment of uneasiness. Where was she? he wondered again. As he went upstairs to change his clothes, he saw that her side of the closet was empty. There was a note on the bathroom mirror: “It hasn’t been important to you – now it’s not important to me.” He didn’t quite understand the note. But he was beginning to realize that Tay was gone.
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