The International Writers Magazine: Love Tokens
George Blake really didn’t like Valentine’s Day. Now that he was an old married man with two kids he wanted his life to go along smoothly and occasions like Valentine’s Day had a way of causing complications.
For one thing, he’d neglected to buy his wife Amy a present and, even though after 15 years of marriage they just got each other token gifts, he knew she was expecting something. Furthermore, she was unhappy about all the nights he’d been working late at his law firm recently, to retain a difficult client, so that made it doubly important he get her something.
Then there was his eight-year old son Kyle. In keeping with current educational practices not to damage a child’s self-esteem Kyle had made a Valentine card for everyone in his class and had received a card from everyone so that no one would feel less popular than anyone else. But, despite the educators’ best efforts, kids will be kids and Kyle was sad because he hadn’t gotten a special card from a girl named Trish that he liked, although he’d made a special one for her.
At breakfast that morning, Kyle was glum. “I bet she doesn’t really like me,” he said.
“I’m sure she does,” his mother assured him.
“Then how come she took my special card and hasn’t given me one?”
“Maybe she hasn’t had time to make one yet,” said George.
“I don’t know.”
“”Well, wait. You may be surprised.”
“All right. I’ll give her a day.”
That would take care of Kyle for the time being, thought George. This still left Justine, their 13-year old daughter, a freshman in high school. With her the problem was different. She had received a special gift, a bracelet, a nice one, which she’d just proudly displayed. It was from her boyfriend, she said.
“I didn’t even know you had a boyfriend,” said George. “How long has this been going on?”
“Oh, for a while.”
“What’s his name?”
“And how old is Bobby?”
“He’s 15. He’s a junior.”
“Then he’s two years older than you. I don’t like that, young lady. You’re two young for anything serious, and that bracelet looks pretty serious.”
“Oh, Dad, it’s only a bracelet. He just wanted to show me how much he likes me.”
“That’s what I’m worried about.”
“Don’t be silly, Dad, we’re just hanging out together.”
“Well, I’d like to meet this 15-year old boy. Bring him around.”
“All right, I will. You’ll see. He’s nice.”
“Just bring him over. I’ll decide how nice he is.”
When George got to his office the first thing he did was call in his paralegal Ruth and ask her to get some flowers and chocolate for his wife. This had worked in the old days and he couldn’t think of anything better. He was busy the rest of the day, which included a lunch with the difficult client, which he thought went well. He’d completely forgotten about his daughter’s promise to bring her boyfriend over to their house. When he arrived home, Amy told him that the two teens were up in Justine’s room, studying, or at least that’s what they’d told her.
George presented his wife with the flowers and chocolate and apologized for being so late. Amy seemed pleased and said she understood. She gave George a small box and when he opened it he saw it was a wallet, something he didn’t think he needed but told her he’d start using right away. So Amy was taken care of, the old standbys still did the trick and George was relieved.
At that moment their son Kyle came rushing in, holding a card that he said Trish had made especially for him. “See,” said George. “I told you she’d do it.”
Then Justine came in, followed by a gangly boy she introduced as Bobby. He immediately came over and shook hands with George. “Glad to meet you, sir.”
This kid is trying to make a good impression, thought George. “So you’re a junior?” asked George
“Any plans for college?”
“Yes, sir. I’m going to apply to Berkeley. If I can’t get into there, then San Diego State.”
“What are you studying?”
... “Hmmm. All right. Nice meeting you, Bobby.”
Justine was smiling. The kid seemed okay, Jack had to admit, but he still had reservations. He knew what he was like at that age. He’d have to talk to Amy about this later. For the time being though he supposed Justine could have done worse.
So Valentine’s Day was over and everything seemed reasonably on track. He’d be able to get back to his normal routine. There was one more thing. The next morning he called his paralegal Ruth into his office and told her to close the door. He handed her a box, which she opened. It was a bracelet. He couldn’t help but think that it was the same present his daughter had received but that was just a coincidence.
“Happy Valentine’s Day,” he said. They moved closer and kissed.
Ruth put on the bracelet. “It’s nice,” she said and smiled.
It was true that the difficult client was one reason for George working late some nights, but it wasn’t the only one. Now that Valentine’s Day was over, maybe one night next week.###
© Martin Green November 2013
We were at a bar, watching a 49er game. “We” were a gang of young guys I’d fallen in with because I knew one of them, Gil Wexler, from the Army. The 49ers scored a touchdown. Everyone cheered and one of the guys, Hugh Ballard, threw up his arms, then picked up my drink and finished it off. “Hey,” I said, “that was my drink.”