Contemporary Friendship Romance

 A Strange Package at the Door

George has a Strange Experience

‘There was a knock on the door. The dogs heard it too, as they first barked like mad, and then rushed to the front window to try to find the one who had violated their territory. I was the third and last to get to arrive there By the time I opened the door, there was no sign of the person who had knocked. But there was a fairly large cube-shaped package carefully placed on the doormat.

           As I picked it up, I saw no indication of a name or address, nothing to identify me or the sender. It certainly had not been mailed, puerolated, or shipped in any way. And I hadn’t ordered anything recently, so it could not be anything that I had sent out for.

           I carried it inside carefully, wondering whether it could be something fragile or precious. The dogs moved in to sniff it carefully and found it very interesting, as if they hoped it contained dog treats or raw meat. But disappointment soon covered their long faces

           Well, the only way I could solve this mystery that had come my way was to open up the package. It was tightly wrapped, so I had to use my sharpest knife to cut my way through the tape and cord. 

           When I finally had it opened up I was surprised, and that is putting it mildly. What I saw inside, wrapped up in soft pink tissue paper was a female doll dressed in red, a baby doll. Who would send us a doll? The kids were only away for the weekend. We are hardly empty nesters. I searched for some indication of who sent it to us and why. Then I found a piece of paper upon which were written the following cryptic words: “From your past and mine. I thought that you should have it. Seeing it always brought you, sadly, to my mind – JT.”

           I am a happily married man, with two children (both giving us freedom this weekend by visiting with friends), and I cannot bring to mind any girl or woman in my past with the initials – J.T. What should I do with it? As it was so precious to someone with those initials, I could not just bin it.

George’s Wife Emma Appears on the Scene

“Was someone at the door, George? I heard the dogs barking.”

George points at the package, then shows Emma the doll and the note. He doesn’t say a word.

“Is there a story here that I should know George, one you haven’t told me about?”

“Nope. As it is there is a story here that I do not have the slightest clue about. I cannot remember knowing any girl with the initials J.T.”

“How can we explain it then?”

“I just had a thought.”

“Write it down before you lose it.”

“You know the little sign with our address number that used to be up on the front porch. The one that got broken in the storm?”

“I remember you saying that you would replace it. Yes”

“I was thinking that the person who placed this package on our welcome mat might not know who lives here as there is no clear indication of our address number.”

“But she, I am assuming it is a woman, could have known our number by looking at Fred’s number next door, the one on the sign on the edge of his property.”

“You’re right.” (to himself he thinks a silent ‘damn’)

There is no resolution of what to do with it. So I placed it so that it could sit on the big chair.

George Walks the Dogs and Gets Inspired

It is Saturday, so George takes the dogs for an afternoon walk. While doing so, he keeps coming back in his mind to the situation with the doll and the package found on the doorstep. No good idea comes to mind. And he cannot think of anyone with the initials J. T. from his pre-Emma days.

As he crosses in front of Fred’s frontyard he stops suddently, noticing something. Fred’s sign giving his street number is on a patch of land that could be thought of as being on George and Emma’s lot. Maybe the gift-giving note writer made a mistake. He had to tell Emma of this new discovery.

George and Emma Have a Discussion

“Emma, I’ve got a new idea.”

“George, tell me quickly, so it won’t get forgotten.”

Both laugh lightly. Then George explains to her about what he saw and thought in the last part of the dog walk. She agreed that it was a distinct possibility. Then both of them decided to go together to see what Fred’s reaction would be.

The Character of Fred

George’s father would have called Fred ‘a real character’, which was his way of saying that he was ‘weird’, ‘strange,’ or ‘with a screw loose’ Both George and Emma would say instead that he ‘had real character.’ They had him over for dinner often, as he was a good friend and a very good story teller. He was also single, and much appreciated their ‘home cooking’, even when George was the cook – “What chilli again? My favourite. No really.”

Going to See Fred

           George and Emma went over to Fred’s place, and George knocked hard on his thick wooden door. 

           “Both of you at my door at the same time. I must be in trouble. Did my tarantulas escape again and kill one of our neighbours again? I hate when that happens. Someday I’ll get sued.  And what is in that box that you are carrying? Will it explode?”

           That was a typical line from Fred. George and Emma smiled. George began his explanation.

           “Someone knocked on our door earlier today and left this package with us. We were thinking that it might be for you instead of us, a mistake made in our addresses. It contained this.”

George then took the doll and the note out for Fred to see. While he looked ready to say something sarcastic when he first saw the doll, the note provoked a different response, not typical of Fred. He was almost silent, mouthing the initials J. T., J. T. over and over again. Then a light went on in his eyes. He remembered. Out loud, with more volume than was absolutely necessary for his audience to hear: “Jane Turing”.

           “Come inside for coffee. I have a story to tell you guys.”

Fred’s Story

“A long, long time ago, when I was a teenager, Jane was my girlfriend all the way through high school. We used to joke about the family that we would have, a daughter called Gertie, who would become a pilot. This is Gertie, whom I bought for Jane on her 16th birthday. We used to toss her around the room, as a way of getting her used to flight. We broke a few vases with Gertie. Her parents were not pleased. They did not like me for that and other things I said and did.

           We planned to go to the same college after we graduated, getting married once we both finished school. But the year of our graduation, her parents decided to move the family to another city, and I never saw her again. There was no FaceTime then, or we probably would have used it. The desire to call each other on the phone soon faded away. We knew that we were going nowhere.

           I have often wondered what happened to her. I just couldn’t seem to get to know any other woman like I did her. She was a hard act to follow.”

Emma Floats an Idea that Sinks

There was a short silence following that last sentence, broken by an enthusiastic Emma. “You should look her up on the Internet, and reconnect with her.”

Fred responded quickly, with uncharacteristic seriousness and sadness. “She’s no doubt married now, and I don’t want to see her with a new name. Forget it.”

That ended all conversation, and George and Emma soon left.

Another Idea

           Emma was not one to be easily foiled. Rather than look on the Internet, she took out the town telephone book. She soon found Jane Turing’s name and address, no married name. “I’ve got another idea”, she said. When George heard what she had to say, he was truly amazed by her ingenuity.

           For much of the rest of the day, they worked together on two signs. They both thought that it was the type of thing that Fred in his usual mood would have done. Once it was very, very late and dark, they drove over to Jane’s place and planted one of the signs so that it could be seen easily from the front door. They noticed that there was only one car in the driveway, hoping that meant that she lived alone.

The Next Day

           It was Sunday. George and Emma were keen to discover whether her plan worked. But they had to be patient. Not something either was particularly skilled at. Then there was a knock at the door. They both rushed to answer it, George getting their first. When he opened it there was an eager face looking straight at him, the sign they had planted at Jane’s place late last night in one hand, with the drawing in red of a baby flying in a blue cloudless sky, accompanied by the words ‘Come see me tomorrow’ written on it.

“You would be Jane, “ said Emma. “I will confess that we are the ones who created the sign you are holding, without Fred knowing. But we are sure that he will be excited to see you. Let’s go to his place right now.”

           Jane had no words in response, but headed in the direction of Fred’s house as it was indicated in the sign erected on George and Emma’s front yard, with an arrow pointing to Fred’s place and the words “Fred lives here” written in big letters. George and Emma permitted her to knock on the door. Fred answered and soon surrounded Jane with his arms, looking like he would never let go. 

           It was the return to the love of both of their lives.

November 30, 2021 14:14

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