When Gwyneth saw the box of chocolates sitting on her desk, she was not surprised when there was no note attached. Depositing her coat and purse on her desk, she plopped unceremoniously into her ergonomic desk chair and took a closer look at the heart-shaped mystery gift. Double-checking for a note from the sender without finding one, Gwyneth shook her head as she unwrapped the cellophane, “Oh Keith…”
In typical style, Keith- Gwyneth’s boyfriend of five years, had stuck to their ‘no notes, no fanfare, no showboating’ rule for today- also known as St. Valentine’s Day. Neither Keith nor Gwyneth especially liked the holiday, feeling it was mostly a dedicated day for couples to demonstrate how much better they were than every other couple on the planet. Usually Keith would do something a bit understated and very personal for Gwyneth and she in return would cook a fancy meal or drive an hour out of town to pick up some of his favorite beer from a microbrew that didn’t distribute to their area.
Come to think of it, chocolates, especially the kind you could find in any grocery store, were not really Keith’s style. Gwyneth rolled this thought over in her mind, much as she did the orange-centered chocolate she had already popped into her mouth. “Maybe it’s the beginning of some elaborate scheme he has cooking for tonight”, she thought excitedly. If that were the case, she had better come up with something else than just the dopey card and specialty ice cream she was planning on giving him. Blindly reaching for another chocolate, Gwyneth decided she’d better comb the internet for a few more ideas for Keith before she got entrenched in her work.
Scanning through a recipe for homemade heart-shaped ice cream sandwiches, Gwyneth almost didn’t hear her cell phone ring from where it still sat inside her purse. Digging through her purse to find the stupid thing, Gwyneth was surprised to see an hour had passed before accepting the call from Keith.
“Hey sugar britches, Happy Valentine’s Day!” Keith said in his best Rhett Butler voice.
“Oh my, you know I can’t resist you when you talk Butler to me,” Gwyneth replied coyly. “And before I forget, daaarliiing… thanks for the chocolates, they were apparently very good- I’ve somehow managed to eat half the box before ten o’clock,” Gwyneth laughed at her overindulgence but stopped suddenly when she didn’t hear Keith laughing with her. Thinking the call had been dropped, she looked at the display of her phone and saw the call was still in progress and returning the device to her ear said, “Keith? Did I lose you?”
“No, I’m hear… sorry, babe. And I hate to tell you, but it wasn’t me who sent you those chocolates- looks like you may have a secret admirer,” the digitized words struck Gwyneth like a punch to the gut and she immediately let the caramel-filled dark chocolate fall out of her mouth in a gooey glob.
“Wha… What do you mean, they aren’t from you? You are they from then?!?” A note of panic was rising in her voice and she struggled to regain her composure. She needed to think. Feigning a need to return to work, she hung up with Keith and tried to focus. Wiping a bead of sweat from her forehead, she noticed her hands were trembling- as were her legs. A wave of nausea washed over her seconds before she felt her throat begin to close.
In their modest apartment near the park, Keith set out the wine and began to grate the cheese as he half-listened to the six o’clock local news. Gwyneth was due home any second and he couldn’t wait to see her expression when she found him cooking for once. He began to daydream about the night he could imagine them having when something from the broadcast caught his attention.
…that’s right, Tina, I’m here outside of the Pentagon where police are still interviewing witnesses and aren’t giving us many details at this early hour but sources claim that at least ten people are dead and over fifteen are in critical condition. Reports are that the poison was laced in the anonymous valentine chocolates delivered to each of the victim’s offices sometime last night. Already being dubbed as the Death by Chocolate murders on the internet, police are still in the process of contacting the victim’s families before releasing their names to the media. We’ll have more on this disturbing story as it develops…
Time had stopped for Keith as he hunched over the 14 inch kitchen TV, cheese grater still in hand, the chunk of aged Gouda forgotten on the floor. The newscast disappeared and a commercial for Corvettes and a jumping dog came on the set. It couldn’t be real, it was a dream, Gwyneth was fine, she would be walking through the door any minute. Keith looked up towards the door as if the mere suggestion of her walking through it would cause her immediate manifestation.
Instead, his phone began to ring.
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: Ah, Valentine’s Day…. Actually, I had a pretty good one. I was greeted by a mystery box of chocolates on my desk that were waiting for me at work this morning, made some yummy cookie ice cream sandwiches for my honey and got one of the best Valentine’s gift’s I’ve ever received from him in return. The only loose end for this day of love is still not knowing who left the box of chocolates for me. I have my suspicious, but whoever you are, thanks bunches (glad it wasn’t poison!)
Love & Squirrels.