Here's the story for September's writing challenge--writing a story about an older couple!
He pressed the package between his hands and smiled as he waited. Any minute now.
"Sir, may I assist you in any way?" A young woman with fluffy blonde hair approached the older man.
"No, I'm waiting--my wife will be finished soon." He flashed a grin. "Thank you, though." Anderson Grummel leaned back and chuckled, thinking. Emily was going to be so surprised. She had always wanted pink ribbons. He remembered when they had first met, so many years before. He was six and she was four--it was the same day that President Theodore Roosevelt had made history by being the first president to ride in an automobile. She had freckles and big brown eyes. Andy had told her that they looked as pretty as cow's the day they met. She had giggled.
It was that first Christmas that Emily cried over pink ribbons as they curled up in the corner by the fireplace with a piece of pie to share. She had just turned five, and all the other girls who already had silky bows atop their head had dozens of Christmas presents--but Emily had received nothing but an orange.
"I'll get you pink ribbons someday, Em," Andy had promised.
Emily was eleven when Andy remembered his promise next. It was her birthday and Andy's family had joined Emily's for the celebration. When Emily had opened her single present--a pair of blue mittens--and glanced up at her mother with shimmering eyes, Andy remembered the pink ribbons.
"I'm sorry I didn't get you ribbons," he whispered to her that evening as they ran together along the pond. The brisk, chilly air cut through his shirt--he felt it even now, the memory was so strong. Emily had stopped stock-still and stared at him. "I did want ribbons," she admitted, "Only don't ever tell Ma. Mittens are so very practical." But her voice broke. "And blue is such an economical color--so that Sam can wear the mittens when I grow out of them."
"It is," Andy had agreed slowly, watching the silver puffs of their breath melt in the night. "But you would look fine in pink, Em."
"Let's not talk about it."
So they didn't, and Andy secretly tried to save his coins for the next few years to buy Emily pink ribbons. But something always came up. If it wasn't Mammy's cough medicine to pay for it was Baby Jo's dress or Willy's slate pencil or some such thing. So important, and every bit a necessity. Not like pink ribbons.
It was 1914 when Andy joined the military to fight. And it was in Europe that he saw a little barefooted girl selling little bobs and bits. He had traded a loaf of bread for those ribbons--but when he sent them home to Emily, the package was lost. He never told her what was in the parcel--never had a chance, because when he arrived back at home Emily was sick with the fever. With her hair cropped close to her head and covered with a scarf--blue, for economy--Emily tried to laugh. "It's a good thing I haven't got any pink ribbons, I should be that much more distressed about my hair if I had them."
The 1920's had started with a bang and Andy obtained work three states away. Emily gulped when she found out, but Andy told her he'd come back soon enough with enough money to marry her. So she smiled and they agreed to pinch pennies and only write one letter a month since paper and postage was so much.
When he came back it was with a slim, paper wrapped package.
"Andy!" A young woman with thick, short curly hair had come pressing forward through the crowd. A boy of about eighteen had his arm wrapped around her shoulder.
"Emily!" Andy had leaped forward with a laugh of joy. "And Sam. Oh it's so good to be together again!"
"It's good to hear your voice." And Emily reached for Andy's hand to shake it.
Andy hadsmiled at her, unable to find any words to say.
"Well," Sam chuckled, "Shall we go to the truck? Pa let us borrow it off the farm for an hour and we've got to get back."
"Yes," Andy agreed, slipping the package into Emily's hands. "I've got you a present, Em."
She opened the paper with trembling fingers and gasped when she felt the silky ribbons. "Oh, oh! Ribbons!"
"They're pink." Andy gazed into her unseeing eyes. "Just like you always wanted."
Emily's face lit up. "Oh, I can feel that you know. A ribbon couldn't be as smooth and exquisite as this one if it was blue."
A doctor emerged from the room Emily was in. "Mr. Grummel?"
"That's me," The old man rose with a wobble.
"The fever had deeply affected her eyes but what with our modernized surgeries--I believe she'll recover her full sight. Are you ready for me to remove the bandages?"
"Very much ready." Andy followed the doctor into the room. Emily sat pin-straight in the bed. Her hair was almost as white as her bandages now. The doctor crossed over with a pair of scissors and in a few snips glanced at Andy and grinned.
"Alright, Mrs. Grummel, I'm going to take the bandages off now." As he spoke he undid the bandages and Emily's eyes opened.
"Oh," she whispered, gazing around the room with wonder. "Oh, it's lovely."
"I got you a present." Andy handed her the little package. "Guess what it is."
Emily didn't answer, only smiled and slowly undid the string. Then she flushed, and when she looked up her big brown eyes locked on Andy's face. They sparkled with something--maybe joy, maybe tears. Andy couldn't say for certain.
"You know, you already kept your promise those many years ago." Emily picked up one of the ribbons with a tender touch.
"Yes, I know," Andy took a deep breath and smiled. "But I felt as though you didn't live up to your end of it--I wanted you to see them for yourself."
"It's so--" Emily struggled to find the words. "Uneconomical. And lovely. Perfectly lovely."
Andy sat back, satisfied. The warmth in his heart spread until it shone from his face. The doctor studied the couple with amazement. And suddenly, he realized he couldn't even see their wrinkles--it was all erased by love.
So that's that! Phew! If you wrote a story for this month's challenge please share it below! :)
You all have a lovely day!