Long Distance Kiss
What is the point, she asked herself, of getting married to a man who's hardly ever there?
She threw herself into the old floral couch with a groan of springs and stared out the window. It was raining, a dull, dreary drizzle which had been going on all day. It was her twenty-ninth birthday and her husband was in Bergen, Norway – of all places! – taking part in a training program in order to climb further up the corporate ladder.
"You crazy workaholic," she told the smiling face inside the locket she wore. "When are you coming home?"
In three months, was the logical answer. But what with the way time stretched like mozzarella cheese whenever he went away, it would feel like years.
He grinned up at her from the photograph – she didn't know if it was bad luck to cut out a person's head from a photo to wear in a locket, but she'd done it anyway. She had a flashback and closed her eyes.
Click! She lowered her camera, thinking that the red-gold maple tree in front of her would make a wonderful photograph. Turning, she noticed her husband's eyes on her, intensely concentrated.
"What? Is there something on my dress or – "
"No. I'm just looking at you. Wielding your deadly beams of light."
The shutter went down a second time. He laughed, threw up his hands and pretended to be terrified; then he took her hand and they continued walking.
It wasn't as if she was completely alone on her birthday. She would be having tea with her parents and dinner with her two best friends – and their husbands – Oh, I hate being the third wheel!
She might as well get up off that couch and do something, be bored to some purpose rather than bored doing nothing. She left the apartment and went downstairs to check on the mail; probably there would be a bunch of bills and a few cards from various friends and relations. As to her husband, he was so absentminded, he probably wouldn't even remember that today was her birthday. They'd fought over it the year before. She sighed and looked around at the beige-painted lobby, then went over to the mail slots and emptied hers (theirs really, since it had both names on it).
A card in a glossy golden envelope, postmarked from Norway, lay at the top of the pile.
She sat down on a bench to open it. It showed a black-and-white photo of an ornate birthday cake, with only the candles glowing yellow. Inside was a short note in his familiar big, spiky handwriting.
Hey Kid, (an inside joke since he was three months older)
Happy Birthday. And before you say it, no, twenty-nine is not old.
I'm sorry I can't be here. Not only because I'm bored and the weather is awful, but because I really miss you.
If I were here right now, I'd give you a back-bending, foot-popping kiss right out of one of those old movies. Just close your eyes and imagine it. It takes more than an icy, oversized pond to keep us apart.
She ran her hand over his illegible signature, shook her head and smiled.
P. S. Look in my closet in the top shelf.
What she found there made her laugh, then drop two happy little tears on the golden wrapping paper.
He'd found her a present – and hidden it weeks ago.
She hugged the hard, rectangular package, probably a book, and unwrapped it slowly and carefully. When she saw the cover page of the book which had inspired her favorite movie of all time – He remembered! – she could almost feel a warm presence and a kiss from across the ocean.