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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Valentine (05/16/05)

TITLE: Like Percolating Coffee
By Sally Hanan


Walter’s bulbous fingertips prodded out each letter with care.

Roses are red,
Violets are blue…

He grimaced at how uncreative he was, and to add to his frustration, the computer was still not acting like a trusted friend. He knew he’d have to struggle through this lack of technical knowledge alone. After a tranquil ten year marriage, Walter was a widower again. Two years had since passed, but he still had to hush the grief that stirred his stomach.

Today was Valentine’s Day. The winsome bouquet of pink and white flowers lay beside the monitor. Walter had never bought Louise flowers before, but he wanted this visit to be different- something Louise didn’t expect, something that would make her feel special. He had wanted to give her some fresh flowers from his garden, but truth to tell, his green fingers had fallen to his sides since his second wife had died.

What if she won’t take them? What if she’s happy with the safe distance we have kept?

Shaking hands reached out to the keyboard again, the veins on them pulsing with each heartbeat of fear. This poem had to swoop into her heart.

Bah! Walter pushed back from the monitor shaking his head in dismay. This wasn’t going to be quite as easy as he’d thought. He reached in and scratched his hairy ear. Come on Walter, you've got to speed up. She’s waiting on you.

She was waiting on him, sort of. This was her shift at the diner, and he always came in at the same time – 4pm. It was the quietest time of her working day, and Louise would usually sit with him and listen to his stories. She seemed to enjoy his company, which surprised him, but he was scared of reading into it the wrong way. What if she was merely being polite?

Walter bowed his head and prayed for inspiration. As he lifted his humble head a warm glow of a smile stretched across his face, stretching the facial gnarls of years gone by. Like percolating coffee, the flow from his brain filtered through his fingers.

It’s the way you care Louise-
when I speak you listen to each word
and make me feel like I am your only customer.

I love that you won’t let me tip you,
saying that I’m family
and you wouldn’t dare.

I love to watch you at work-
you’re so efficient, so quick to take care of everyone.

I love the way your hair settles gently on your face,
and the way you impatiently flick off that little curl that rests on your shoulder.

You remind me of my first love.
I know, I know, I shouldn’t be talking about another woman on Valentine’s Day of all days,
but I recognize the characteristics of a great woman when I see them
and you have them,
just like she did.
I miss her, but I know you understand.

You are so special to me.

Walter leaned back in the library chair in satisfaction. Thank-you for understanding too Lord, and thanks for the help with this contraption. He patted the monitor. After a few whirrs the finished love letter was in a pink envelope and gently centered within the roses.

His arthritic hand held the base of the bouquet tightly as he crossed Main Street, the noise of traffic dull in his ears. Sneaking in while she wasn’t looking, he stood by the door for a few minutes to watch her. He savored the thrill of being able to love so much.

Walking in farther, the mix of pale colors, scent and petals seemed out of place in such a garish place, but they were laid softly on the slippery diner seat at ‘Walter’s’ table.

He caught her eye. Grinning as she approached him, he pulled out the flowers. She shook her head, in shock but smiling. He was almost breathing on her in his eagerness to see her reaction to his letter. Pulling the envelope out of the spray her eyes questioned his. He nodded encouragingly.

After savoring each word, Louise lifted up her head with a poignant smile.

“This is my favorite line in the card.” After she took a quick swipe at her eye she pointed it out to him.

Love Walter,
a.k.a your step-father,
But I hope that now you’ll call me Dad.

“No wonder Mom loved you so much! Thank-you for never giving up on me. I’d like nothing more…. Dad.”

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This article has been read 1199 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Maxx .05/23/05
Has all the ingredients to be a winner!
Dixie Phillips05/23/05
Your story flows so beautifully! Loved the plot and the ending was the icing on the cake. YUMMMY! I loved ever single bite!
dub W05/23/05
Very good. Watch the POV shifts in the final paragraphs.
Lynda Lee Schab 05/24/05
Oooh...I didn't see it coming! Great twists always rate high with me. Wonderful writing. I wouldn't be surprised if this one percolates right to the top.
Blessings, Lynda
Phyllis Inniss05/25/05
Held my interest throughout and getting such a surprise at the end must put you in winners' row.
Val Clark05/25/05
Neat twist in the story. The character was well rounded and believable.
Shirley Thomas05/26/05
I really enjoyed your story, especially the heart-felt Valentine note. What a blessed young woman to have a step-dad that cares so much!
Dori Knight05/26/05
Your portrayal of a loving step father touched me deeply and made me cry. I love this piece - very well done!
darlene hight05/26/05
Wonderfully written! Nice little twist!
Tesiri Moweta05/27/05
Beautiful! The story is as beautiful as it is well written!Love is beautiful.It never closes but keeps opening in new ways for those who desire it.Thank you so much! God bless you.
Amy Michelle Wiley 05/27/05
I didn't see that ending coming! I liked it (especially the "hairy ear" part, of course!!! LOL)!
Suzanne R05/30/05
I too loved the twist, and also the description of Walters 'bulbous fingers'. It is a beautiful piece!
Deborah Porter 05/31/05
Hi Sally. Just popping in again very quickly to let you know that you were in the semi-finals for the Valentine Challenge. You're definitely doing well! Love, Deb (Challenge Coordinator)
Joanne Malley06/08/05
Wow! What awesome writing...Amazing, just amazing!