“There you are! You’re late. I was beginning to think that turning 30 was more than you could handle.” Molly’s best friend Lisa had a way of getting right to the point.
“I’m not late, your watch is just fast.” The two women settled in for a nice visit. “You know, turning thirty is a big deal. I don’t know why, but it is eating at me.”
“Oh, we all go through that-don’t worry about it. I’m sure Phil will have a nice evening planned for you tonight, and once you get past today, you’ll forget all about it.”
“Phil--have a nice evening planned? Wouldn’t that be different. He doesn’t have a romantic bone in his body. Have you forgotten the “New and Improved” food storage system he got me for Christmas?”
“Oh, don’t be so quick to dismiss the idea. He tries, in his own way. Maybe this time will be different.”
“Yeah, well I’m not getting my hopes up.”
However, in spite of herself, Lisa’s words reverberated in her mind the rest of the day. Memories of whispered phone calls and something being quickly shoved into a pocket when she entered the room came back to her mind. By the end of the day, no matter how she tried to dissuade herself, Molly was convinced her quiet, predictable Phil was planning something big.
That evening they sat on the sofa in front of a crackling fire. Phil’s card was the first surprise-it was the loveliest one she had ever received from him, and the verse brought tears to her eyes. Just as she began to read the note he had written, his pager went off.
“I have to check this out. Go ahead and read it. I’ll be right back.”
In the light of the flickering firelight, she read, “We’ve talked about this in the past. Now we’ll be able to experience it--together. With all my love, Phil”
Molly’s mind was awhirl with the uncharacteristically romantic card and mysterious message. Smiling as she waited for Phil to return, she eyed the pretty little package he had set on the table in front of the sofa.
Phil hurried back into the room with his coat on. “Molly, I’m sorry, it’s an emergency. I have to go, but I’ll be back as soon as I can.” Hesitating, he smiled and said, “Go ahead and open your present if you want. We can talk about it later.” And with that, he was gone.
Stunned and disappointed, Molly wasn’t sure what to do. She picked up her card and read the note again, then decided to open her gift.
As the wrapping fell away, Molly’s mouth fell open. “What is this? A copy of “Alaskan Adventures”? The book Phil has read a hundred times since he was a kid? ‘Now we can experience it-together!’ So he thinks I’m going to read it with him? Is he nuts? So much for romance. I should have been content with another kitchen appliance!”
By now, Molly was pacing the floor, angry that she had allowed herself to have any expectations, but hurt that Phil had failed to see her need for some kind of real celebration on this difficult day. Every glance at the book produced another wave of indignation until, in frustration, she threw it into the fire. Then she ran upstairs, fell onto the bed, and wept.
Several hours later, Phil sat on the side of the bed and shook Molly awake. “Honey, what did you think? Were you surprised? I kind of thought you’d call me.”
Molly turned over and glared at her husband. “Are you serious? Why not just give me toaster? At least that would have been useful!”
Phil sat quietly for a minute, looking at her tear-streaked face. “Apparently, you didn’t see everything. Where is the book?”
“By now, it’s nothing but ashes! Now leave me alone, I’m really not in th...”
”What do you mean, ashes? Tell me you’re not serious!” Phil ran to the fireplace and began raking through the residue, but there was nothing to retrieve. In shock, he sat on the sofa, muttering. “So much for my attempt at romance.”
Molly walked into the room as he spoke, and upon hearing him, said, “What romance? There are four copies of that book in this house already.”
Phil looked sadly at his wife. “This one was different. There were two tickets for an Alaskan cruise taped inside the back cover.”
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