by J.L. O'Dell
Story of a young couple, strange happenings and a little humor
Wendy and I shopped at Goodwill a lot. It wasn’t just because we thought our purchases would help others, but the simpler truth was, that we were usually broke and couldn’t afford to be extravagant. We were both just 19, starting out in life. We were in college, in love and in debt. Wendy worked part time at a department store and I worked at a sandwich shop not far from campus. Poor Wendy had to take the bus to and from work. I walked the short distance from our apartment.
We loved shopping at Goodwill because of the wide variety of things you would find. Wendy was great at repurposing those items we bought. We would pick an item off the shelf and try to imagine a story for each. Once, Wendy found an old tea cup that we imagined belonged to an elderly woman who sipped tea at precisely 1PM every afternoon. She sat alone in her apartment staring out the window as the world passed by, sipping her tea. When she died all her belongings were given to Goodwill. We, of course, paid the fifty cents for the cup and took it home. Wendy drank her herbal tea from the porcelain white cup with the red and orange flowers dancing around the side, every morning before we left for classes. Me, I drank my coffee from anything that was clean.
It was on one of those shopping trips that we discovered a matching saucer for her cup. We were looking for Halloween decorations, it being only two weeks away, and managed to find some. But, the big score for Wendy was the matching saucer.
“Do you think the cup and saucer were separated or could this be from another home? Weird. Isn’t it. Finding it like this?” Wendy was all smiles. “And look,” she said as she turned the saucer over, “it’s also made in Ireland. What are the chances?”
“Who knows, but it’s our lucky day. Finally, a matched set of something in the apartment.”
When we returned to our apartment, Wendy washed her new saucer and placed it under the tea cup. A perfect match. She put the set in the cabinet with our mis-matched dishes. After feasting on pizza, we went to bed early. We both needed the extra sleep. It had been a long, hard week.
The morning sky was gray, and you didn’t need to be a TV weatherman to know rain was coming. I headed for the kitchen. Wendy had the water brewing for our tea and coffee. As I entered from the narrow hallway, Wendy was staring at her cup.
“What’s wrong?” I saw a puzzled look on her face.
“It’s sweet to surprise me but you didn’t have to put this in the cup, sweetheart. I mean, it’s not my birthday or our anniversary or anything.” Wendy put her fingertips into the cup and pulled out a $50 bill folded in half. I was stunned. I hadn’t seen a $50 bill in a long time.
“Me? I don’t know what you’re talking about. If I had a fifty, I would have told you.” I took the money from her hand and held it up to the light. “It looks real enough.”
“OK, then you tell me where it came from. Come on. I want to hear your explanation.” Wendy turned around and made her tea and me a cup of instant coffee.
“I don’t know,” I told her as I went to the entry door to check it. It was locked from the inside.
We sat in silence as we finished our corn flakes and hot drinks. It was a mystery to me, but I wasn’t complaining. Payday was a week away for both of us and an extra fifty, where ever it came from, was not only welcome, but a blessing.
I arrived home after work before Wendy like always, so it was on me to dream up dinner. The fifty was in the tea cup where Wendy left it, so I went to the corner store to buy food. We didn’t have a microwave, so anything frozen was out of the question. I bought a pack of hotdogs, buns and a can of beans. No sense in spending too much. We might need the money for some other expense.
Wendy arrived home not much later. Dinner was ready, so we sat and ate. “Still no ideas about the money. It didn’t just appear.” She asked between chews. I thought about it, but I had nothing to contribute. After washing the dishes, Wendy put them back into the cabinet.
“Nick, what did you buy the food with?” Wendy stood looking at me.
“I took the fifty. I have the change in my pocket if you want it. Why?” I stood from the table and took the five steps over to Wendy. She pulled her hand from behind the cabinet door. “Because of this.” She was holding another fifty.
“OK, Wendy. I know Halloween is around the corner, so you want to play with my head. Your boss gave you an advance on your check, didn’t he?”
“No,” she said quietly. “I knew buying the saucer would make the old lady happy. I felt it. Something inside me told me to keep them together.”
“Come on Wendy. What are you trying to say? We made the old lady story up. And money doesn’t pop up out of teacups.”
“But, what if we were right and she’s happy her cup and saucer are back together. What if she knows we need help, and this is our reward. This is her way of saying thank you.” Wendy looked up at me and I could see she was dead serious.
“So, when we put the set together ….”
She looked at me. Wendy smiled and laughed, “How was I supposed to know it was haunted?”
Word Count 988