Waking, Walking, Singing in the Next Dimension?by Morris Graves 1979
I peer myopically at the birthday cards. As usual I’ve forgotten my reading glasses and there’s no time to go home for them if I’m going to catch the post. Must be quick - time and tide and the Royal Mail wait for no man. How old will she be tomorrow? Twelve? Mustn’t get anything too babyish – children grow up so quickly these days.
Ah! This looks promising – quite pink but then she likes pink; it’s always been her favourite colour, ever since she was a tiny girl. Oh look, are those birds perching in leafy bowers? That’s appropriate – she’s interested in bird-watching, even identified some in my garden the other week. I wonder what they are – I’ll have to ask her when I see her.
I don’t care for verses in cards – all that supposed poetry not scanning properly and with strangely convoluted sentences to make the rhymes fit – you know the sort of thing:-
Today’s a special day for you,
Full of joy and love and laughter,
Here’s hoping Happy Birthday to you
Will lead to happy ever after.
A quick glance inside – no verse, just . . . what does it say? I squint to make out the words. ‘Thinking of you’. That’s good – short and sweet and I can scrawl ‘Happy Birthday’ underneath it. I glance at the large clock above the door – only ten minutes before the postman comes to empty the letter box. Come on, hurry up! Luckily, I know her address by heart. I write the card and address the envelope and slip it through the slot just as the mail van pulls up. Phew! Job done!
A couple of days later I’m at her house. I’ve just given her my present and I’m glancing at the birthday cards on the window sill. Hmm, very nice selection – some quite ‘young’, others more adult as befits a – what do they call them these days? A tweeny? They used to be the in-between maids, the young girls who helped the cook and the housemaid in a large household. I gather it’s spelt differently – tweenie - so I suppose that makes it all right. Ho hum – when I was young there weren’t even any teenagers. Funny how language evolves.
She smiles at me. ‘Thank you for my present,’ she says. ‘It’s lovely.’
‘My pleasure,’ I say. ‘Did you like my card? I thought you might tell me what the birds are. I didn’t have my reading glasses with me when I bought it.’
Her mother laughs. ‘We thought that’s what might have happened,’ she says.
I confess I’m a little puzzled and look more closely at the card I sent. Now, my glasses allow me to see that as well as my scribbled greeting, ‘Thinking of you’ is followed by ‘at this sad time.’ I look again at the front. White doves are depicted prettily posed on pink roses.
I gasp but my granddaughter and great-granddaughter laugh again. My son comes into the room. ‘I don’t think you’ll forget your glasses again,’ he says and hugs me.
Thanks to Tess for this prompt. Go here to read other offerings.