THE GIFT IS INSIDE THE PACKAGE
It was December 30th, a Friday. The next day would be the last day of the year. And it would also have been his birthday. Alex was born on December 31th , fifty years earlier. He would have celebrated his 50th birthday during the New year’s Eve dinner, in the company of his friends, his sons and his daughter, and his two ex wives too.
He ( Alex) would never had expected that visit. Greta had been one of the many women with whom he had had a brief affair , as a young man. He hadn’t seen her for about thirty years, for as many years ,he had not known anything about her, or had he tried to know it.
When he had opened the door and had found her in front of him-…..for a while he had not taken a shot. Even if so many years had passed and she, Greta, was no longer the perky, glamorous girl he had known at the time of his early youth, Alex had recognize her almost soon. Certainly for that mole between her nose and her mouth, but not only . . He almost soon had recognized her also for her eyes, for her gaze. Greta had the same bright and yet cold gaze that she had then , when they were twenty.
“ You certainly don’t remember me….but I remember also your birthday ” These were the first words Greta had said to him, there, standing out of the door, in front of him.
“ Of course that I remember you, instead….You’re Greta, aren’t you? Oh, but what a surprise…” Alex said, almost trembling, almost frightened too….Ah, he felt the earth fail under his feet, he thought he was about to take a shot. It seemed to him that Greta, reappearing so unexpectedly , suddenly, after so long time, was ….something like the return of the past.
Greta held, in her arms, a big package, covered with Christmas paper, with candles and stars on the red background. “ Not only I remember your birthday, I even came to bring you my gift for your fifty years “ Greta said, as he made her come into the house , and sit in the living room.
“ I have to ask you only, dear Alex, not to open this package, which contains my gift for you, until tomorrow” Greta said, before giving him the package. “ Okay. But…may I know WHAT I will find inside this package?” Alex asked, almost perplexed. “ Ah, but it’s a surprise! You will know what’s inside only when you open the package, But, oh, remember : you must not, you absolutely must not open this package before tomorrow” Greta said, rising her index finger straight, as she used to do even when she was a young woman, when she made a request , which indeed was an order.
Greta after giving him the package , which contained her gift for his 50th birthday, and making him the recommendation not to open it until the next day, she stayed ( remained) only for a few minutes with him. Theirs was certainly not a conversation. There was just time to exchange a few words. Neither of them said anything more about their present life than that they were doing pretty well, that they didn’t have major problems. Alex and Greta did not even begin to remember their past, perhaps because that past seemed to both of them another life , compared to their current life. As if young Greta and young Alex, in their twenties ,had been just two people completely other than those they were now.
It wasn’t so much when Greta left, but the day after, which was December 31th , and it was his birthday too, that Alex remembered days, moments of his youth. But about Greta he could not remember anything that made her stand out from the many, perhaps too many girls and women , with whom he had lived short and non-binding stories ( affairs), even if they had been all pleasant stories, before meeting Anne and deciding to marry her.
Greta had said he had to wait to open the package until the next day. She had only said___UNTIL THE NEXT DAY___She hadn’t say what time the next day. So when the next day arrived___it was December 31st___Alex could not wait to open the package, since he was curious to see Greta’s gift for his fifty years. He was curious, yes, but at the same time he felt a certain apprehension every time he approached the package, picked it up, touched it. What a gift could Greta have given him, what gift could she have thought of after a life they didn’t see each other?
Maybe it was something as a joke….maybe in the package he would have found a pair of very small women’s panties, or a garter , or a bra…. Alex had been on the verge of opening the package several times, but then , every time, he had stopped. The package, despite being large in size, was light. What could it contain? Maybe some colored balloons to blow up or…here is! condoms….
Every time he had been about to open the package, Alex had given up, he didn’t know why.
So came the evening and Alex had not yet opened the package , he had not yet seen Greta’s present for his birthday. The table was set for the New Year’s Eve dinner. His guests arrived and sat at the table. The atmosphere was very pleasant ad full of joy. Talking with his sons, Alex came to mention the gift he had, completely unexpectedly, received from a woman he had not seen for a lot of years, who had been a girlfriend of his in the days of his youth.
His sons, but then also the other diners , intrigued, began to ask about Greta and the gift she had given him. How? Didn’t he know what the gift was? Hadn’t he opened the package yet? He had to do it right away! They were now curious as he was, more than he was to see Greta’s gift.
The package with inside the gift was brought to the table , and Alex set about to open it. The eyes of all those present , who held their breath, waiting to see the gift appear, were focused on him.
Inside the large cube shaped package there was a much smaller box ( package). But it took much longer time to open this little cardboard box, which seemed sealed.
When finally Alex managed to open the little box something appeared that, at first glance it was not clear what it was. It looked like a little hand, perhaps a doll little hand, holding a little red ball. There was also a note in the box, that Alex read in a stunned silence:
“Our baby was born, even if you didn’t want….Indeed you didn’t even believe in his existence-
This is the only hand he had. For you, for your fiftieth birthday….Greta”