With the twins asleep and my mother was watching reruns on the telly, I took my chance. Grabbing my purse, I slipped out the door, and hurried down to the shops. This was Bob’s and my first Valentine’s Day together and it was going to be absolutely fabulous.
I’d taken in in some extra sewing and with some economy had been able set aside just enough for the perfect gift. According to his best mate, Jack, Bob had been a real wine connoisseur in his bachelor days. Although we’d never shared anything more exotic than a pint of Fullers, it gave me great pleasure to know that,once upon a time, Bob had drunk only Chardonnay.
I pushed open the door to the new wine shop on the corner of Market Street. A little bell tinkled. It sounded so jolly – just like at Christmas. And there, on the counter, along with jars of cheeky chilli-pepper chutney and fat, white balls of goat’s cheese, was the pair of the most beautiful wine tasting goblets in the world – Chef Sommelier – tall, sleek, and wondrously thin.
“How much?” I asked even though I already knew.
“Fifty-two pounds.” The leprechaun-like man stroked his beard. “Gift wrap? Extra five quid.”
I shook my head and glanced up at the clock. Bob would be home any minute now and I still had to take his shirts to the cleaners. He was very fussy about his shirts. Understandable. In his job, he had always to look his best.
Having misjudged the effect of rush hour traffic on the buses, I arrived at my neat little front door at just past quarter to six.
“What’s for dinner?” asked Bob, as he sat propped along with my mother in front of the telly with a beer.
“Hold your horses,” I said. “First, I have to have a peek at the girls.”
In the safety of their room, I pressed out some silver wrapping paper I’d been saving for a special occasion. After adding some curly red and white ribbon, I scribbled ‘I love you’ on the gift tag and rehearsed my presentation for the last time.
Sadly, nothing ever turns out as planned and at the last minute, instead of reciting my pretty poem, I just held out the package and smiled.
“What’s this?” he said. “It’s not my birthday.”
“Valentine’s Day,” mumbled my mother.
“Oh,” he grunted and turned away.
“Open it,” I urged. “Please?”
“Wine glasses?” He pulled a funny face.
“For your Chardonnay.”
“Just like in your wine connesisour days. Jack told me all about it.”
“Jack’s full of shit. How could you be so stupid as to believe a word he says? By the way, how much did these cost? They look expensive.”
“Fifty two pounds,” called my mother from the couch.
“You spent fifty two pounds on these?” he growled. “Are you crazy, woman?”
“I don’t care what you wanted.” One by one, he heaved the goblets against the wall. “I want you to stop wasting my money.”
As shards of glass shimmered back at me like cracked ice, I remembered the jolly little bell in the wine shop and picked up the broom. Next Valentine’s Day would be absolutely fabulous. I was certain of that.