Oh, Dear (Fiction inspired by Emilio Pasquale photo)

This story is inspired by Emilio Pasquale’s photo. I didn’t ask permission to post the photo here, but you can view it in another window by clicking the link on the first sentence. (Trust me, you should see it!)

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“Yes, Mr. Collins. The cabin will be set just how you requested. I took excellent notes.”

Samuel tapped his fingers on his desk. “You’ve got the dozen pink roses and the box of truffles in the bedroom?”

“Yes, sir.”

He exhaled. “Thank you, Josie. Everything has to be perfect; exactly like it was twenty years ago.”

He hung up the phone and rested his forehead in his hands. He knew his future depended on the success of the upcoming weekend. Twenty years ago, he had taken Deana to the rustic cabin on their honeymoon. They hadn’t had much money and, although the cabin was only two hours north of Phoenix, the climate was a world away. Three weeks ago, Deana moved out. Now, he had to prove to her that he still loved her. Recreating our honeymoon for Valentine’s Day is perfect!

He picked up the phone again and pressed the first programmed call number.

“What do you want?”

He gulped. “Listen, Deana. Just give me a chance.”

“I’ve already given you too many.”

“Please, just meet me at the Ponderosa Inn and Cabins on Saturday.” When the silence dragged on for several awkward seconds, he continued, “Cabin 9. Just one more chance. Please.

“That’s where we spent our honeymoon.”

“I remember.”

“I don’t think-”

“Don’t think, just show up.”

She sighed. “Fine.”

He exhaled and his shoulders slumped with the release of tension. “The room is ours at two, if you want to head up early. I have a couple things to take care of, but I’ll be there by four.”

She snorted. “Another one of your business weekends, huh? Never mind. We’ve been through-”

“No!” He took a breath to calm his panic. “No, wait, it’s not like that. I’ve reserved two hours of spa time; you pick the services.”

“Oh.” She paused. “They have a spa now?”

“They added it a few years ago.”

“Okay.”

He smiled. “You won’t be disappointed.”

He hung up the phone and dialed the Ponderosa Inn.

“Hi, this is Samuel Collins,” he said once the front desk picked up the line. “I need to schedule two hours of spa services for Saturday.”

“I’m sorry. The spa is fully booked until Sunday afternoon.”

“How much would it cost to make it happen?”

“Sir, it’s Valentine’s Day. The schedule is full.”

“Okay, okay.” He ran his fingers through his thinning hair. “Can you call people who are scheduled between two and four to find out if they will sell their appointment? I’ll pay any price.”

“Sure, Mr. Collins. I’ll see what I can do.”

“I appreciate it, Josie.”

***        ***        ***

On Valentine’s Day, Samuel called Deana. “Yes, the spa appointment is all set. When you check in at the front desk, ask for Yolanda and she’ll get you started.”

“I’m impressed. I didn’t think you could pull it off. I always planned our vacations.”

“I’m full of surprises.”

“Wait a second; you didn’t have your assistant set everything up, did you?”

“Actually, no.” That would’ve been smarter. “I’ve made our dinner reservations for 6pm, so that should give you enough time to get ready.”

“All right.”

“I love you, Deana.”

The line disconnected. She’d avoided saying she loved him for months. He didn’t pick up on it at first. A twinge of pain ran through his chest. He should’ve asked questions. He counted out twenty-three one hundred dollar bills; enough to cover the spa appointment and tips. He folded the wad in half and shoved it into his blazer pocket. He grabbed his overnight bag and headed to the car.

At four-twenty, he parked his car in the dirt parking to the left of the main building. He patted his pocket and strode into the lobby. The heat from the fireplace across from the front desk enveloped him as the door eased closed. He detected a sweet smell commingling with the pine scent, and just then, he noticed the plate of chocolate chip cookies on counter.

A brunette with large eyeliner-rimmed brown eyes greeted him with a smile. “Good afternoon.”

“Hi. You must be Josie?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I’m Samuel Collins. I wanted to thank you for your help getting this weekend set up.” He pulled out the wad of bills and peeled four bills away. He handed her the cash. “This is for you.”

Her eyes widened. “No way!”

“Do you have an envelope?”

Josie reached into a drawer to her right and pulled out a letter-sized envelope with three green pine trees stamped in the upper left corner.

He took the envelope from her manicured fingers. “Are the Davenports dining in the main room tonight?”

Josie’s nails clicked the laptop keys. “They have a six-thirty reservation.”

“Perfect. I owe them for the spa appointment.” He stuffed a few bills into the envelope and tucked the rest into his pocket. He handed the envelope to Josie. “Please see that this gets to those who attended to my wife today.” His phone vibrated in his pocket and he checked the screen. Deana. He tapped the screen. “Hi, hon-”

“What is wrong with you?” she shrieked.

He pulled the phone from his ear and turned away from Josie after catching sight of her perplexed expression. “I have no idea.” He didn’t know how to answer. “How was the spa?”

“Nice, until I got back to the cabin!”

“Why? I had them set it up exactly how it was for our honeymoon.”

“We didn’t have two deer in our bed on our honeymoon!”

“What?”

“Two deer. In our bed!”

“Hold on.” He turned to Josie. “She says there are two deer in our bed?”

Josie nodded. “Yes sir, just as you requested.”

“I didn’t ask for that!”

She pulled out a manila folder and flipped through some papers. “Right here.” She handed the paper to him. Scrawled in purple ink was, ‘two deer for our anniversary.’

Samuel rubbed his forehead. “No!  It was supposed to be a card that read, “To my dear for our anniversary.”

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If you didn’t check out the link to Emilio’s photo at the beginning of the story, here’s a second chance. You really should see the photo that inspired this story – it’s awesome!

I purposely left the ending open so you can determine how it plays out. If you’re a romantic, then she ended up finding the mixup “endeering” (sorry, that was really bad) and laughed at the mishap and they lived happily ever after. If you are a cynic, then she was so mad she drove home that night and reconciliation hopes were dashed 🙂

I still have a lot of “stuff” going on, but I couldn’t resist this distraction from the weight of life. I appreciate all the kind comments and prayers that many of you have sent my way. You all rock! I hope to be back more regularly soon.

It Can Only Mean One Thing…

It’s February 14th, and like many Americans, one thought weighs heavily on my mind today.  The pink and red hearts adorning grocery store end caps are a stark reminder of what February is about.  The cute little boxes of candy with 20 classmate cards and the large heart-shaped boxes of chocolates that beg to be placed in my cart can only mean one thing:  time to start my tax return.

Yes, it’s already the middle of February and the stack of “tax stuff” piled on my printer can only be ignored for so long (62 more days, to be exact.)  But I don’t want to wait until the night before and then deal with the rush at the post office.  It’s worse than an after-Thanksgiving sale at Wal Mart….you fight the crowds and you don’t even have a chance to pick up a flat screen TV for $100.

This is what procrastination looks like…

Until last year, I was just a number to the IRS.  I would send my love via e-file without any kind of response.  The relationship resembled that of me and my junior high crush, Kirk.  No matter how many times I rode my bike past his house, he never waved.  Only this time, I was okay with the one-sided relationship.  Really, I was.

I guess it was inevitable that a slim and trim household income like ours, would garner attention.  Not adorned in bogus deductions or inflated donations, our modest means don’t draw envious stares from our neighbors.  Yet, last fall, our numbers caught the eye of none other than the IRS.  Instead of blushing like Cinderella at the Prince’s ball, I cried like I just received, well, a letter from the IRS.

I called the phone number on the letter and found I wasn’t that special after all.  The eleven minute wait confirmed what I already suspected:  the IRS gets around.  The woman on the line explained the $1,600 in additional taxes/penalties/interest stemmed from over six grand of unreported income, from my HSA used for medical expenses.

“B-but it was supposed to be tax free,” I explained.  “I didn’t do anything wrong.  I swear.”

“All you need to do is fill out a Form 8889 and fax it back to us.”

“I have it right here,” I said, holding the printed tax return produced from my tax prep software, which I also used to e-file the return.

“We don’t have one in your file.”

A file.  That sounded stalker-like to me, but I reminded myself that the IRS wasn’t just any suitor.  They could decide if my life would have misery or bliss.  When given a choice, I always go for “bliss”, so after hanging up the phone, I decided to fax that form in immediately.  Twenty-seven tries, and nearly an hour later, my fax finally went through.  I ignored yet another sign of the IRS’ polygamous ways.  I had heard of its gold-digging reputation, but I just knew, with me, it would be different.  I could change things.

Over the last several months, I received several love letters.  The revised tax notice gave us the amount we would owe if paid by a certain date.  Funny thing is, they forgot to send us the bill until several days after that date.  Sometimes, important dates can slip by, even in new relationships, right?

In case you’re wondering why we owed money since we sent in the missing form, we forgot to include the prior year’s stat tax refund on our federal return.  With penalties and interest, the IRS sweet-talked us out of about $30.

Since the IRS showed such interest in us, I thought perhaps I could get the inside track on how they are able to get a 4% interest rate on money owed to them.  You see, my savings account has earned a .01% interest rate for the last three years.  I wanted to know if there was any way to invest my money in their accounts, being that we’ve been in a relationship corresponding for several months now.

It seems I am anonymous again.

I thought our relationship meant more than that.  I’m beginning to think the IRS only wanted me for my money.  They didn’t get $1,600, but they did get some of my money.  Maybe they’re mad because they didn’t meet quota and had to cancel the department Caribbean cruise?

Letter To An Over-Hyped Underachiever

Dear Valentine’s Day,

I feel compelled to write you on this day colored pink and red (and sometimes white) – colors that have become synonymous with hearts and cupids.   You have instilled panic and fear into thousands of men and women, who struggle to come up with the perfect trinket to give their significant others as a symbol of their undying love.  Do you not realize the pressure you put on the masses to compete with gifts of Valentine’s Days past – or old boyfriends/girlfriends?

Why must we feel obligated to give a gift of love on your day?  Shouldn’t this be done on any day, or every day throughout the year?  Does a gift of a dozen over-priced red roses, a sappy card and a heart-shaped box of candy on your day make up for 364 days of thoughtlessness?  I think not.

I want–no, I deserve –to be appreciated every day.  I don’t expect gifts (things) every day, although chocolate once in a while is a nice gesture.  What I want doesn’t even cost a dime, which in this economy is a good thing.  I want hubby to leave me a post-it note with words of love, or cook dinner, or vacuum the floors without me asking him to, or just tell me why I’m special to him.  Yes, these are things I want throughout the year.  I want him to do them because he wants to – not because the calendar tells him he should.

You know what, Valentine’s Day?  You’re nothing but a bully.  Yeah, that’s right – a bully.  But you’re not going to force me into submission because I fought back.  Sure, I bought my husband his favorite cookies and a card, but I gave them to him on Saturday (February 12th), not the 14th.  Take that, Valentine’s Day.

Sincerely,

JannaTWrites, a peaceful protestor of obligatory gifts of love

Is Valentine’s Day  your friend or foe?  Do you love it or hate it?  I want to know…