Every year on my birthday since I was seven they always appeared on my doorstep, those bright red roses. They weren't from my mother or my father or any of my siblings nor did they appear on the door steps on their birthdays. Only mine.
I've changed schools and even graduated but they still appear, I have made new friends and new enemies yet still, once a year, they appear on my front door step. There was always a rose for every year that I have been alive. I try not to expect them but they really mean alot to me just the thought of knowing that some random person out in the world cares about me enough to buy roses and remembers my birthday makes me smile.
Tomorrow I am hoping for twenty one roses but of course I will not get my hopes up. I unload the dishwasher as my mom scrolls through Netflix never finding something to watch, which has been her coping device ever since dad died in the accident. She seems so lost and so distant now, which is why I have to be here for her even more.
“Hey mom, I’m going to bed now. Goodnight!”
“Okay, see you tomorrow,” she says in the same monotone voice. I slowly walk up the stairs and find my way to my room. The second my head hits the silk pillow I fall into a sweet sleep hoping never to be woken.
I wake up and walk down stairs only to find my mom fast asleep on the couch. I decide to let her sleep as I make breakfast. I crack the eggs and pour the milk as the bacon sizzles in the pan. “That smells good,” mom says sleepaly with a smile. It’s so good to see her happy.
“Hey mom, if you want to sit at the table, it will be ready in a second.”
“I was going to take you out for breakfast, you only turn twenty one once you know.”
“Maybe we could do lunch,” I say as I serve her eggs and bacon.
She smiles a real smile that I haven't seen in a while and nods agreeing to lunch. We eat quietly, enjoying the birds chirping their melodious songs outside of the window.
After I clear both of our dishes and rinse them off in the sink my mom pulls out a gift which surprises me because I don’t know when she would have got it. I slowly open it, like always being sure not to tear the wrapping paper. I open the lid to a box and find a photo album.
“Your father kept it for you. He said to give it to you on your twenty first birthday,” my mother said, clearly holding back a generous amount of tears. I opened the first page and it was full of pictures of my father and I.
An unintentional tear rolled down my cheek and silently splashed onto the table. “Thank you,” I whispered. “This means a lot to me. I will cherish it forever.” I flipped through the book and found my eyes drawn to a picture of my father handing me and my mother a bouquet of red roses. “Hey mom, when was this?” I ask not being able to recall when the picture was taken.
“Oh, I forgot about this,” she said with a content smile on her face. “This was your fifth birthday and all you wanted were pretty flowers. Your father picked them himself.” I tried to remember this birthday but I couldn't, it had completely escaped my memory. “Speaking of roses,” my mother said. “Did you have any left for you this morning?”
“I haven't checked,” I said as my mom sat down on the couch. I opened the front door and there were twenty one white roses. “Oh!” I said out loud to absolutely nobody. They were beautiful but not what I was expecting. As I picked them up to smell them, a small note fell to the ground. I reached down and picked it up and it read:
Hello I know you don’t know me but I am hoping to
meet you today. I am truly sorry for not revealing myself
for all of these years but I am hoping to make up for it with a
nice dinner tonight. If you will kindly accept my invitation than
we shall meet at the diner on 8th street at 5. Hope to see you there!
I put the mysterious note in my pocket and took the roses inside. “They're beautiful!” My mother exclaimed jumping up from the couch right away to get a vase to put them in. “Who expected white this year? I guess turning twenty one is a big stage in life.”
I counted each rose out and put them in the vase one by one seeing if there were actually twenty one roses and like always there was. “Ready to go out to lunch mom?” I asked, trying to keep my mind off the note. I haven't decided if I am going to go or not. I mean meeting a stranger is very dangerous but then again they have been doing this since I was seven.
A few hours later
“Thank you for lunch! It was delicious!”
“I know,” my mom said with enthusiasm. “There are so many restaurants opening in town that there is always a new one to try. What do you want to do for dinner? It’s your special day so you can choose anything.”
“Actually mom I was going to go to dinner with some friends tonight if that's okay with you.”
“That’s great honey! I’m glad you're making good friends!” my mom said with a huge grin on her face.
“It’s kind of a fancy dinner so I’m going to go shower and get ready.”
“Okay that’s fine with me. Tell me if you need anything!” my mom yelled up the stairs.
“I will, thanks!” I yelled back. I showered and put on light makeup but was at a loss for what to wear. I looked at the note again and it said a nice dinner so I decided to go with a short dress with a jacket and boots. It seemed fitting for the occasion.
I walk down the stairs and my mom comments on how good I look which is very reassuring to me. “Where are you going to eat?” she asks.
I think it would be best to be completely truthful to her in case something does happen. “We planned to meet at the diner on 8th street.”
“Okay sounds good. Just text me if you need anything!”
“Awesome thanks mom!” I say as I am heading out the door and getting into the car.
I arrived at the diner exactly at 5 which was perfect. I just hope whoever it is is on time. How will I recognize them? I think to myself just as someone tapped me on the shoulder. “Hey, I’m Jarett.”
“Hi,” is the only thing I can squeeze out of my mouth. I don’t usually get nervous to talk to people but something about Jarett makes me a bit shy.
“I have been leaving the roses for you every year on your birthday.”
“Thank you, they are beautiful. I especially like the white ones this year,” I say as I take a seat that he kindly pulled out for me. I think I’m starting to like him a little bit. He seems about my age too.
The waiter comes to our table and he orders a steak with fries. “May I please have the Salmon?” I asked once Jarett had finished ordering.
“Of course young lady,” the waiter said and then walked back into the kitchen after writing it down.
“Nice choice,” Jarett said with a contagious smile. I couldn't help but look at the ground.
“So how do you know when my birthday is and where my house is and stuff?” I asked, wanting to make sure this guy wasn't a stocker.
“Oh,” he said as he reached into his pocket. I was scared he was going to pull out a gun or something but he pulled out a picture. It was the same picture of my father handing my mother and I roses.
“How did you get this?” I asked, slightly alarmed.
“My father was a photographer and when that picture was taken you couldn't just text the photo to someone you had to print it out and give it to them. Your dad asked mine to take that picture so that you would remember.”
“Oh,” I said, wanting him to go on.
“It just so happened that I went with my father that day to take your picture and I fell in love with you the second I met you,” he said, looking at the ground and noticeably blushing. “We never officially met but I swore to myself that I would get to know you. Every year on that same day I would leave roses at your front door and then hide to watch your reaction to them. It melted my heart every time. Those days of seeing your face light up have been the best days of my life.”
I have never felt like this before, my heart felt jumpy and I couldn't look Jarett in the eyes. “My father died and getting those roses has been such a sweet reminder. I looked forward to them every year. Thank you.”
“It’s my pleasure,” he said with that contagious smile again. Our food came and we focused our attention on that for a little while. “Do you think that you would go out with me again sometime?” he asked, looking a little bit desperate.
“ I would be honored,” I said, still not able to look him in the eyes.
I went out with Jarett for about a year and a half and then one day on the beach he proposed. Later there was a wedding cake and tears of joy from my mother. Thank you Jarett for my twenty one roses.