We were delighted to welcome back Sue Hunter who clearly couldn’t resist returning although she can no longer commit to every meeting. We had some lively readings today, including poems from Edna, Realising a Dream from John Hermon. There were also some romantic and threatening Unexpected Valentines including this, from Keith McClellan
The Unexpected Valentine
“The Post’s come.” Colin called down from the bathroom, his mouth frothy with toothpaste.
“I’ll get it,” Fiona called back. In the hall, she picked up the scattered items. One particularly caught her eye. It was a big square envelope addressed to her, but without a stamp. She put the others on the side table, and opened it.
“I’ll say! Oh sweetheart , you shouldn’t have. I thought we’d agreed. No valentines this year.”
“Show me,” said Colin. She passed it to him. Her smile faded as she saw his frown.
“I didn’t send this. Are you seeing someone?”
“Of course not love. You know I’m not.”
“Do I? So how do you explain this…this obscenity?”
“I can’t, I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know who would do it, for a joke even.” She grabbed his arm, “You do believe me sweetheart? We are a couple. We love each other – don’t we?” She blinked away a tear.
“I thought so,” he said, “but this is suspicious to say the least. For a start, it’s someone who knows you; knows things about you. It’s bound to make me suspicious. You must see that. If it is as you say, find out who sent it and tell me tonight I’ll warn him off.”
“I’ll try, but I don’t even know where to start.”
“I’ve go to be going. We’ll sort this out tonight.”
Fiona thought about the men in the office as she cycled in to work. It was only a mile and a half and she valued the exercise. Colin worked in Oxford, twenty-five miles away, so he took the car. There was Gary; he was about her age, a keen golfer, he had a live-in girlfriend. They weren’t married but seemed very settled. Besides, apart from the normal friendliness of workmates, he had shown no sign of, that sort of thing, as her mother would have called it. Then there was Ted: she felt sorry for Ted, only a year from retirement and recently widowed. His wife, Mary, had died quite suddenly of cancer. He wouldn’t have sent it. That left Andy, at least ten years older than her. His marriage had broken up recently and he did give her the look occasionally but he wouldn’t send such a card, not in a hundred years. So who the hell was it?
She was hiding something, Colin was sure of it. She hardly spoke about work. Perhaps there was a reason? She said it wouldn’t interest him and he hadn’t denied it. His own work in Oxford was all consuming. He couldn’t concentrate today though. The mere thought of anyone touching her! How could she do it? Had he neglected her recently? He didn’t think so. Yes, work did preoccupy him, but they seemed to be getting along OK. He didn’t feel she distanced herself. Still, women could be deceptive. So could men, I suppose, if I’m honest, he thought.
He stopped at the garage, a mile from the village, to fill up. As he walked in to pay, he wondered about a bunch of flowers. He’d been a bit short with her, he had to admit.
“Fifi like her card did she?” Colin was stunned. Where did that come from?
“I take it that’s a yes,” said the voice. Colin looked across as a youngish smiling face emerged from the tall sweets and booklets display at the end of the counter.
“I’m sorry?” was all Colin could muster.
“Fifi’s card; she did get it didn’t she?”
“Fiona did receive a card this morning, yes and no she did not like it. She was acutely embarrassed. She had no idea who it was from,” said Colin.
“Gets off with lots of lads, does she? Not surprised. Real dish she is.”
“I’ll remind you I’m her husband. How come you know so much?”
“She’s always popping in for chockies or some Kettles. Begs us not to tell you like.”
Colin paid his bill and left.
“Well?” he said, when he got in.
“Nothing I’m afraid, sweetheart. I’m sure it’s no one from work,” said Fiona.
“What about the garage?”
“What about it?” He noticed a light flush rise up her cheeks.
“Lad seems to know you well there. Asked if you liked the card. What exactly has been going on Fi?”
“Oh God! OK, I used to go in to meet my craving for chockies and crisps. Ricky got much too familiar. Almost pestering: he wouldn’t leave off so I stopped going in. That was at least six months ago. If he saw me cycle by he’d yell out, but I ignored him. He hasn’t done that for ages. I thought he’d given up.”
“Clearly not,” said Colin, “Right, I’m going up there now to warn him off.”
“Are you sure that’s wise?”
“Wise or not, I’m not putting up with it.”
Two hours later it was dark. Colin was still not back. Fiona tried to concentrate on preparing dinner. She heard a knock at the front door. He’s gone without his key, she thought. “Is that you sweetheart?” she said. The letterbox flap lifted and a voice said. Yeah, it’s your sweetheart, Ricky. That grumpy old sod won’t trouble you no more. Let me in darlin’.”