I recently offered to post this story on my website for the holidays. I wrote the first version for a contest in 2013 and changed it over the next six years. Here is my new and improved 2019 version. Please enjoy, and have a wonderful Christmas, however you spend it!
Look What the Wind Blew In
by Renee’ La Viness
Steam rose from Opal’s cup of hot chocolate as she carried it to the living room.
The early December snow was beautiful, but to an elderly woman living alone, it was cruel. It made the bones ache and the body shiver. She set the warm drink on the side table then wrapped the small blue afghan around her legs and settled into her easy chair.
A soft thump sounded on the front porch. It was probably a wandering dog, but she decided to check it out. Slowly, she rose from the chair and shuffled across the room.
When she opened her front door, the bitter wind barged in without permission, and tiny ice crystals danced in with it. On the porch floor, a mess of shoe prints led to a pot of poinsettias trimmed with a wide gold ribbon. They were her favorite holiday flowers. In the middle, a small note attached to a plastic stick fluttered in the icy air.
Careful not to slip on the porch, Opal leaned over and snatched the flower pot. She quickly carried it inside and shut the door, locking out the wind and snow.
In the warmth of her living room, she read the note.
“WILL YOU…” The rest had been torn off.
“Will you what?” she asked out loud, as if expecting an answer. “I need the rest of the note. I wonder who left it.” She set the pot on a small table between her matching chairs. The bright red flowers seemed to make the room smile.
“I bet this is from Betty.” She picked up the phone to call her friend. It rang twice before anyone answered.
“Betty? It’s Opal. Thank you for the poinsettias. They really brightened my day. But, part of the note was missing.”
“What are you talking about, Opal? I’ve not left this house. I’m not stepping outside until the ice and snow melt.” Betty chuckled, then gasped. “Flowers, you say? A note? Did somebody leave you flowers, Opal? Do you have a boyfriend I don’t know about?”
“I’m not sure,” Opal replied, absently running a finger around the rim of the flower pot. “I’ll let you know.”
After hanging up, she leaned back in her easy chair. Trying to occupy her mind with something else, she opened the newspaper. She had read all the stories yesterday, but there wouldn’t be another issue until tomorrow, so she would read ads and clip coupons today.
A dentist was running a special on dentures and cleanings, a furniture store was having a price blowout, a book club was searching for new members, and the senior center wanted grandparents for needy children, especially for the holidays. She had signed up for one of those surrogate grandchildren last week, when the medical folks gave free blood pressure checks. She always took advantage of the health checkups. A person should be watchful of their health.
When she finished reading the ads, she reached for her scissors.
Another sound on the front porch. She headed to the door with great curiosity. Nobody was there, but another poinsettia had been delivered. She brought it in and set it beside the first plant. Taped to the side of the pot, she found the other half of the note.
Opal raised one eyebrow and lowered the other. “Great. Will you please what?”
Her mind struggled to put the clues together. It wasn’t her birthday, but it was almost Christmas. Could it be a romantic gesture from a secret admirer?
“No,” she surmised. “Just like Betty said, nobody my age in his right mind would be out racing to disappear after leaving me a secret admirer gift, no matter how important the question. Not in this weather.”
Her face melted. It had to be some heartless kids playing a practical joke. There was no other explanation. She wondered if they knew her husband had recently died. Having no family left, she was all alone in the world.
With shaking fingers, she called Betty and asked her to help watch for the pranksters. She would not let those brats taunt her. She would catch them and call their parents or the law. If parents don’t know what their kids are doing, they can’t fix the problem.
Opal sat back in her chair and picked up her newspaper and scissors. Maybe clipping coupons would help her sort things out.
She considered calling the police. Even if she did catch the kids, what would she say to them? She’d heard today’s teens could be dangerous to deal with.
The phone rang, startling her out of her daydreams. She quickly answered.
“Opal, someone’s walking to your porch. They’re—”
Opal hurried to the door. When she opened it, a woman and a young boy stood before her on the front porch. The boy raised a handmade sign that said, “BE MY GRANDMA?”
Opal’s heart melted and a smile stretched across her face. “Oh, my surrogate grandchild is here! Please, please, come in.” She held her door open as they entered the warm, loving atmosphere of her living room and her heart.