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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1529937-Unexpected-Gift
by IdaLin
Rated: ASR · Short Story · Contest Entry · #1529937
Miriam gets a surprise gift in the mail.
Word count: 669
Prompt: Write a story or poem containing the following: the year 1966, a Coke can, an orange tabby cat, and an unexpected gift.

"Come along, Liza, we'll go see if the mail's come yet." Miriam said as she grinned at the orange tabby cat by her feet.

Her feet shuffled along the hallway as she made her way to the apartment's wall of letter boxes. The disdainful glare of another resident at Liza following closely on Miriam's heels went completely unheeded. Miriam had noticed the young woman's scowl, but she merely smiled and said, "Good morning, Elizabeth."

The cat stopped, its wide-eyed gaze following Elizabeth up the stairs. She quickened her pace but kept looking back until she rounded the stairwell, and Liza turned and caught up to her owner.

Miriam opened her letter-box with her key, and exclaimed, "Look here, Liza! We have a key in our box. That means we have a package. Wonder what it could be?" She beamed at the cat who simply looked at her, ears erect.

The large parcel box was in the next section of the mailboxes. She opened it and there was a medium-sized box wrapped in brown paper inside. She smiled and grasped her prize and ambled back to her apartment, Liza at her side as always.

"Well, kitty, I wonder what this could be?" She said as she placed the box on the counter and squinted at the neat writing on the package. I haven't sent for anything, so it must be from someone. An unexpected gift? What a nice surprise!"

Liza hopped up onto the counter and sniffed the box, her tail wagging back and forth. This was unusual, and unusual was never a good thing in Liza's experience.

Miriam fiddled in the drawer for a moment and pulled out her spectacles to better make out the writing on the package. She read aloud "Mrs. Miriam Tuttle, 112 Westgate Drive, Brahmstown." She looked up, "Well, I suppose it's ours then, Liza."

Just as she was about to pull the end paper open, she noticed something else. The package looked a bit weathered, not damaged, but a bit faded, and then the postmark caught her eye. She pulled the box closer and read. "September, 22, 1966?" Her brow furrowed. "This can't be right."

There was no return address. Miriam opened the end of the package and slit the tape across the top with her fingernail. The first thing she saw was a Coke can. "That's odd." She said. The box was stuffed with newspaper, dated 1966.

Wrapped carefully inside the paper was a smaller box. She carefully withdrew it and set it on the counter. She dug around inside the larger box, hoping to find a letter, or something, but that was all there was.

"Might as well see where this mystery takes us, Liza," She said as she lifted the small box, turning it over.

She gasped as she opened the box, and a neatly folded letter fell out. She stared at the diamond ring inside, and picked up the letter.

It read:

Dearest Miriam,

I hope this finds you well. I am shipping out on Friday, and I wanted you to have this before I left. I know you said we should talk when I returned, but I couldn't wait. Please marry me. I know you said you would never want another husband when Robert died, but I hope you will consider me as your friend. The Coke can is the one we shared that night on the dock. I will write often.

Love always,


Miriam sat down hard. She knew now. The tears streamed down her lightly lined cheeks. She had been 35 when Robert died. Johnathan had been recalled to service in Vietnam in 1966, but had been killed by enemy fire less than a month after he had arrived. She had mourned his loss as a dear friend, but had never known about this. She smiled at Liza. "Well, at least we were loved once...no, twice." Liza jumped into her lap and they sat that way for some time. An old woman and her cat.
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