Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Cards (11/06/08)
TITLE: Card Games
By Rick Higginson
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Worse, the company had sent her husband off on another emergency overseas business trip. He’d left in the wee hours of the morning on a red-eye for the coast, where he would catch the overseas flight out of Los Angeles.
She gave the cat a farewell scratch, which earned her a purr, a turned up chin, and a puzzled look when she stopped, before she walked out the door. Opening the car door, she set her purse on the passenger seat, and with the stiffness the cold weather always brought, settled in.
A red envelope rested on the steering wheel, its corners tucked into the elastic of the steering wheel cover. With a smile, she opened it and read the card. The preprinted message was romantic and slightly suggestive, followed by her husband’s handwriting. <i>“I wanted to be sure the first Christmas card you received this year was from me. I love you, Nina. Roy.”</i>
She started the car, feeling a little less of the post-Thanksgiving let-down, and backed out of the garage into the cool morning air. The drive to work was less stressful than normal, and it seemed many people had extended their weekends into Monday. The office, likewise, wasn’t as crowded as normal, and she grabbed a cup of coffee from the bagel cart on her way to her desk.
A group of her co-workers stood around her cubicle as she approached, and shot her curious glances. “Okay, Nina,” the nearest one said. “What’d he do?”
“Pardon me?” she asked, and then saw the flowers on her desk, with a large green envelope taped to the front. This card was still romantic, but lacked the suggestive aspect. She appreciated that with her co-workers straining to read over her shoulder. <i>“Just in case you missed the other card. I’m looking forward to another Christmas with you. Love, Roy.”</i>
The teasing from her co-workers couldn’t diminish the warm feeling all day, particularly when the electronic card from her husband arrived in her e-mail that afternoon. <i>“There’s nobody I’d rather meet under the mistletoe,”</i> this one read.
No matter how rude the drivers were on the way home, nothing dampened her mood that evening. She walked into the house, sorting through the mail, and found a yellow envelope. This card was silly, but the message still made her smile grow. <i>“No matter where this life sends me, I’ll always send you my love at Christmas and every day.”</i>
She opened the freezer for some vegetables to go with her leftover turkey, and found the white envelope inside a freezer bag. <i>“I love how you thaw me out on cold winter days,”</i> he’d written in that card.
Dinner in hand, she opened the entertainment center to watch her favorite television program. Another red envelope was taped to the front of the TV. This card’s message said, <i>“It’s a Wonderful Life with you as my wife. (See? I can write poetry)”</i>
After her program and taking care of the few dishes she’d used for dinner, she slipped into her robe and retrieved a clean towel for her bath. A blue envelope rested just under the top towel. The illustration on the front of the card showed a puddle of water, with a few pieces of coal and a carrot in the middle. <i>“Thinking of you in a bubble bath has the same effect on me,”</i> Roy’s handwriting read right below the humorous Christmas greeting.
In her flannel nightgown, she sat in the bed and unzipped the cover of her Bible. Another card was tucked in the pages, and she opened the envelope to find a classic depiction of the Nativity. <i>“Of all the gifts God has given me, Christmas lets me celebrate the two best – our Savior, and you. I thank God for the love He has demonstrated in my life through both of those gifts, and I pray that I’m able to be even a fraction of the blessing you’ve been to me.”</i>
With the card setting on the night stand, she fell asleep wondering how he was enjoying the cards she’d hidden in his luggage.
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