Wrapped in brown paper
Kelly loved her little neighbourhood with its little rows of houses that dated back to about 1930 or so. Most of the houses were run down and showing their age, but it was working people who didn’t have the funds to renovate, or seniors, like the lady who lived across from Kelly. Mrs. Weston had lived in that house since she had first gotten married. She and her husband had bought it with their savings and wedding gifts from both their families. Mr. Weston had passed some 15 years ago, before Kelly had ever moved there. Kelly made the time for having tea with Mrs. Weston whenever she could. She loved hearing about the stories of the people who had been neighbours through the years and what had changed. Mrs. Weston always brought out her fancy tea set and made cookies. Kelly felt like she was important to Mrs. Weston and truthfully she was. Mrs. Weston didn’t get many visitors and her son was divorced with a son of his own. They lived 3 towns over, so they didn’t visit often. Kelly knew Mrs. Weston was expecting them to visit soon as she had baked extra cookies and there had been a maid service over and grocery delivery had been a bigger order this week. Plus Mrs. Weston had mentioned they might come for her birthday a while back. Kelly was glad as it had been a while.
Kelly could see Mrs. Weston’s place very well from her front window and if she looked out the kitchen window over the sink she could see the side of her yard where the driveway was. Kelly wasn’t trying to be nosy. It was that Mrs. Weston was like family to her and that she was turning 94 this weekend, she couldn’t do the upkeep on her yard and home like she used to. So Kelly kept an eye out for her and tried to help when she could. Kelly would take the garbage can to the road on pick up day and bring the bin back. She would call for snow removal for herself and get them to do across the street too. Kelly even mowed the grass on both houses each weekend during spring and summer.
Working from home as a writer meant Kelly was able to be there for Mrs. Weston. Kelly wrote technical manuals and was pretty good. Though It paid well and at least she was writing, she wished she could get out of the tech manual world. What she wanted to write was novels and maybe that is why she loved hearing the stories from Mrs. Weston. It fueled her passion for writing and made her want to explore her creativity. Mrs. Weston always told her that she could use any of the stories she had shared if it helped her write. She was so kind and supportive. Mrs. Weston also said “Just because the voice inside your head is shouting the loudest doesn’t mean it is right. Listen to the whispers too.” This was her way of telling Kelly to follow her dreams and not just do what she thought others wanted her to. Mrs. Weston was a wise lady and Kelly loved her dearly.
The other neighbours were nice, friendly sometimes, but kept more to themselves. That was just fine for Kelly. She and Mrs. Weston loved watching the neighbours come and go while they sat and had tea in the fancy china cups and ate cookies. Sometimes they would talk so long the tea pot would stand empty for a while after.
“Did I tell you how I got this tea set?” Mrs. Weston asked one afternoon.
“No you didn’t.” Kelly was excited to hear a new tale.
“My Frank was up to something one year and my mother thought he might be having an affair. I couldn’t think of any reason why he would tell me he was going for a long walk twice a week and wouldn’t ever ask me to join him or even give me a chance to say I wanted to.” She was sitting with her thin hand resting against her cheek and a look of discouragement on her face. “He had me worried, but I just couldn’t believe he was unfaithful.”
“Did you follow him one day?” Kelly asked, so worried it was an affair.
“Oh, I would have, but I was pregnant at the time.” Mrs. Weston smiled and made an exaggerated belly motion with her hands. It made Kelly smile.
“No, I finally got mad one evening when he was getting ready to leave. I told him he had my mother thinking he was unfaithful and I demanded he tell me what he was up to.”
“What did he say?” Kelly loved how Mrs. Weston told her stories with just the right dramatic pause each time.
“He merely said I would see and there was nothing to worry about.”
Kelly’s jaw dropped open, “You accepted that? You let him go?”
“Oh my Frank wasn’t the type to wander. He loved me and I loved him. We had a trust. The fact he said I would know later and there was nothing to worry over, told me he was still my Frank. He kept it up for a couple more weeks and by then I just wanted the baby to come. I wasn’t worried about what Frank was up to anymore. I had a baby coming and I had plenty of other things to worry on.”
“Wait, what does this have to do with the tea set?” Kelly wondered if Mrs. Weston had gotten off topic. It wouldn’t be the first time.
“Oh, I’m getting to that dear.” Mrs. Weston reached over and patted Kelly’s hand. Kelly could feel the cool softness of her hands and noted how thin her skin was looking.
“Frank had been helping an elderly lady just a few streets over who had recently been widowed and she needed to clear out her house contents before she moved into a care home. It was just too much for her and Frank had known her through work. Her husband had retired from the same firm Frank worked for.”
“Sounds like Frank had a very good heart.”
“Oh yes, my Frank had a heart of gold, he did.” She nodded her head as she spoke. “Well, this widow knew I was pregnant and had given Frank a box wrapped in brown paper the day he was done helping her. He brought it home to me and said I was to open it and make use of the contents. Problem was though, when Frank got home I was just going into labour.”
“He left the box on the kitchen table and it stayed there till I was home with the baby.”
“Your husband didn’t think to open it?”
“No, he was told it was for me, so he left it.” She shrugged her shoulders as she spoke. “I got home to see this plain brown paper wrapped box, no note or writing on it. Turned out it had a silver baby rattle that must have been very expensive, and this pretty tea set. I know it too was expensive by the name on the back. See?” She lifted her cup and turned over the little saucer to show the production stamp on the back. Furstenberg Germany it said. “I think my son looked it up once and learned it was from something like 1910. I just loved the little flowers and how delicate it is.” She placed the cup back on its saucer.
“Wow, it is in perfect condition for being so old. Such a treasure to have.”
“The nice widow had also paid my Frank for his help, so to me this was an expensive gift to treasure. My son still has the silver baby rattle too.”
“Oh that’s wonderful. I hope he gets to hand it down the family line.”
“Me too.” She said with a wink. “He and my grandson will be here tomorrow and they will stay for 3 whole days. I am so excited to see them.”
“That is wonderful!”
Kelly helped Mrs. Weston clear away the tea set and tidy up before she went back home. She wanted to jot down some notes, as she often did after having tea with Mrs. Weston.
The next day Kelly saw that young Mr. Weston and his son had arrived safe and sound. Kelly busied herself with work and lost track of time. That evening she was interrupted by a flashing of red lights on her living room walls. Before she had even looked out the window she knew something was wrong across the street. An ambulance was loading someone into the back. She thought maybe she should go over and see if she could help in anyway but young Mr. Weston and his son got into their car and drove away just after the ambulance left. Kelly prayed Mrs. Weston would be ok.
Late that evening Kelly heard Mr. Weston and his son return, but it was too late for her to go over. The next day Kelly had a meeting in town and errands to run, so she wasn’t home until late in the evening. As she drove into her driveway she looked over at the Weston home and saw that there were a few vehicles there. She thought it best she not intrude. She collected her things from her car and walked up to her front door with her arms full. She almost tripped over the box on her doorstep. It was wrapped in plain brown paper with a small envelope on top. She managed to get her door open and to step over the box to put her things down inside. She tried to lift the box to bring it in but found it to be a bit heavy and was easier to push and slide it into the house. She lifted the envelope off the box and read her name on it. She opened it to find a small note from young Mr. Weston. It informed her that Mrs. Weston had passed and that she had asked this box be wrapped and given to Kelly. There would be a memorial next Thursday and the house would be cleared out and sold by an agency. Kelly was saddened and brought to tears. She would open the box later. For now she just needed to process.
Kelly found it hard to even look at the box, it reminded her of the loss and how she would never hear another story from Mrs. Weston again. As the next couple of days passed Kelly found herself remembering those stories and thinking about things Mrs. Weston had told her. Then she remembered the tea set and the story of how it had come to Mrs. Weston.
“Could the box be wrapped in brown paper to remind me of the story?” Kelly thought. “Could the tea set be in the box?” Kelly got up from the couch and sat on the floor beside the box. She decided it was time to open it. As she tore the brown paper she found herself warmed by the thought that Mrs. Weston had even thought of her. She pulled open the box and looked in at the layers of tissue paper. She began lifting sheet after sheet and then found hard pieces wrapped in more paper. She knew before she had finished unwrapping the first piece that it was indeed the tea set they had shared so much over. Kelly’s eyes spilled over with tears again. She would treasure this for as long as she lived and hoped one day she would have someone to share tea and stories with again. Someone she could pass the tea set onto when she was done telling her stories.
“Thank you Mrs. Weston.” She whispered as she carried a few of the china pieces into her kitchen.
About the author
Life is an adventure and sometimes the adventure is figuring out who you are and why you have learned so many odd skills years before. I think it is time to share my adventures in stories my imagination has been aching to create.