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This is a type of Lollipop
Nothing had changed in ten years. Liz hadn’t cared he wasn’t a romantic when they married. She’d accepted it. Why did it matter now? Was the sound of the clock ticking louder and louder towards her thirty-fifth birthday putting her on edge? Possible, but not probable. Her birthday was three months away. She yearned for something, something to change. Did the why matter? Sam was a good man. Eyes wide open, she’d married him, hadn’t she? Put aside yearnings and whimsy for married life.
Lost in thought, she started when Max the family poodle nudged her hard enough to knock her over. She landed bent over the kitchen counter. “Hi you—oh!” Liz squinted at the wall clock surprised at the time. “Thanks, boy. Better hurry and clean up.” She patted his woolly, apricot head. “Don’t want a nickname like painted lady and scare the other parents, do I?”
Before rushing out, she shut the door to the studio at the back of the old house. A warm glow filled her, as it did each time she admired the huge window Sam had insisted she have. No, he might not be romantic, so what silly goose? Still, Liz craved something. She didn’t understand what.
Her teeth chattered. The temperature must have dipped since early morning. Hands buried in yellow wool gloves, she drew her hat lower and clutched the white quilted coat at the throat. A throng of other parents at the corner stamped feet and circled round each other like piranhas in a fish tank. She laughed aloud at the thought hustling to the bus stop stomping as well. At the sound of crunching snow, several of the waiting looked up, waved or nodded. The shake and rattle of the school bus caught their attention. They turned as one. No one noticed Liz wave. The changing gears grated, whined, and stopped. The door screeched opened. Six-year-old Cat lumbered down the stairs first as always, wobbling past the throng of parents into her mother’s arms. “What a sight you are, darling.” Hat askew, blonde bangs and hair messy as a haystack, the girl’s face red from the overheated vehicle showed no concern. Her eyes glowed, a smile stretched across her face, missing teeth yawning.
“Mommy, Mommy. Wait till I show you my picture from school. My friend Nathan—he’s a artist like me—made a wonderful picture with me. My teacher wanted to hang it in class, but I said no.” Liz zipped her daughter’s snowsuit and wound the scarf round and round her head.
“I want to know all about your valentine’s party too, but not now.”
“Hey, I can’t talk.” Cat pushed the wrapping beneath her chin.
“Darling, it’s too cold to talk. Tell me at home. Let’s hurry. Mommy’s freezing. Aren’t you?” Liz caught her daughter’s hand. “Let’s run. Bet you can’t beat me.” Cat yanked her hand from her mother’s grasp and tottered forward like a miniature Michelin man. Liz stomped in place holding back.
At the bottom of their front steps, Liz swung the backpack over an arm, grabbed Cat beneath the arms from behind, and frog-marched them to the door. Inside Cat unwound, unzipped, tugged and wrenched, sweating like a lumberjack. “Darling, you’re hot.” Liz dropped to her knees, seized the bottom of her boots and heaved off the one-piece snowsuit.
Without missing a beat, the girl dumped the contents of her backpack on the floor. Wrapped chocolate kisses, a box of Reeses Pieces, and loose valentines scattered all over the floor. Hands shaking, a look of reverence on her flushed face, Cat unfolded a white sheet of paper, studied it for a couple beats, and nodded. She stood as if in a trance offering the gift to her mother.
Biting her tongue and blinking back tears Liz knew that look, understood the satisfaction and amazement her daughter was experiencing. Her heart swelled all the way to her throat. “Let’s see. Ooh.” She swallowed hard to push it back. “Wait till Daddy sees this. Your attention to detail is astonishing.”
“So, you like it, Mommy? Happy Valentine’s Day.” Cat drew invisible lines on the ceramic hallway tile with a stockinged toe, hands clasped behind her back.
Liz sank to her knees, clasping the girl as tight as she dared. “This is the best Valentine’s gift ever. Thank you. Come. Let’s make a special supper tonight to celebrate.”
“I’ll set the table. Want the dishes from the china cabinet?”
“Good idea. Wait. l’ll take them out for you. Your favourite tonight, roast chicken.”
Cat clapped her hands, stopped and tore down the hall. “I have to go to the bathroom.”
Liz chuckled. “Don’t forget to wash your hands.” I’ll open a bottle of wine. It’s Valentine’s after all.
* * *
An hour and a half later, the doorbell chimed. Mother and daughter stared at each other. “Who can that be?” Cat turned to the door. “No, you don’t young lady. I’ll get it.” Shoulders back, Liz snatched open the door. Her jaw dropped.
“Are you Liz Wilson?”
She nodded if you could call it that. The deliveryman handed her a bouquet of yellow flowers, spun around, and disappeared down the drive.
“Mom, you’re letting in the cold. What is it?” Cat lingered down the hall knotting fingers together.
With gargantuan effort, Liz unglued her feet from the floor and closed the door. “Flowers.”
“They’re pretty. Who from?” The girl tiptoed within reach of her mother, extended a finger.
“Don’t know.” She held the cellophane wrapped bouquet away from her body, eyes feasting on them. Yellow. My favorite color.
“Doesn’t it say who they’re from? My teacher got flowers today. There was a card.”
“Oh. Yes. There is.”
A key in the door announced Sam’s arrival. He grinned. “They’re Lollipops. Like ‘em? Cat, these candy ones are for you.” His daughter squealed.
Blinded by tears, Liz grabbed Sam’s tie and pulled, crushing the flowers between them.
© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles.