A man receives a package with no return address. It contains a pirate-style eye patch and a note. It also possesses a faint aroma of scented perfume.
“Apricot?” sniffs the homely man to himself. He smiles, examining the eye patch. For a moment, he floats back to a past he never knew. With inspired angst, he wraps the eye patch around his imperfect head carefully covering his right eye.
“Rats! Where’s my Hathaway shirt?” the man wonders while staring at the bleak mirror. He never liked the mirror, its darkened wood frame speckled with irregular dents. He despises it all the more now as his macabre reflection reminds him he no longer owns a Hathaway shirt. With a heavy sigh, he reluctantly accepts the sole benefit of the mirror lay only in its ability to give the appearance his dreary one room hovel actually contains a mysterious second chamber.
In forlorn despair, he rips the eye patch – and several well-attached hairs – off his head and throws it at the waste basket. He misses badly. “No matter,” and he returns to the sweet fragrance of the package. He lazily paws at the note several times before it sticks to his stubby hands. Flopping backwards onto his bed, he reads the note in mid-flight.
“Meet me in the lobby restaurant at 6pm sharp” sings the curvaceous script. The old bed springs complain of the assault when he hits and bounces several times to the ebbing whine of the steel coils. A grin curls on his lips. He remembers again the past – this time a past he intimately recalls.
It was a bleached summer day swimming in pleasant pastels. She was his whole world, a veritable satellite of love and adoration, constantly hovering, seeking to fulfill his every whim. Sure he was younger, then – and perhaps a bit more attractive – but he knew at once the years would not reduce their bond.
Of course, the years did wrench them apart. He catered to a career that took him miles from where he began. She did not go with him, preferring to stay where she lived. While this greatly saddened him at the time – indeed to this very day – his heart told him it could be no other way. And so he left with his youth and his promise and his potential, pledging to one day return.
He never did…
He looks up at the dusty antique white ceiling and closes his eyes, hoping to bring back what once was. He knows he’s an older, less pristine version of himself – will she even recognize him? Will the deterioration of his body, his clothes, his very psyche repel her the moment she sees him?
He jerks his eyelids open and jolts from the bed. “No!” he screams to no one. A quick glance at the mirror leads to an angry yank and the mirror falls flat on the dresser, taking the hidden anteroom with it. Surrounded by the four bland walls of reality, he quickly shaves.
“I may be grizzled, but I won’t be defined by Hathaway or Madison Avenue,” he mumbles and anxiously slips on a modest sports shirt. Glancing at the clock, he discovers he’s a mere ten minutes away from a reunion he never admitted he’s always wanted.
“Take that! time clock. Take that! airport shuttle. Take that! draw plus commission,” he cusses through clenched teeth while tying taut shoe laces. None of these mean anything to him anymore. Only one thing really counts.
Laces tied, he jumps up from the chair and grabs the package, this time deeply inhaling the delicate bouquet.
“Apricots! Of course it’s apricots!” as if suddenly realizing their intent. “It’s always been apricots and it will always be apricots!”
He places the package on the dresser and excitedly walks toward the door when a mysterious force jerks him to a dead stop. He sees what he must do and ambles past the waste basket. He picks up the eye patch and places it around his proud head before launching through the door, down the darkened hallway and to the elevators.
Bursting out the elevator doors in the lobby, he moves quickly to the restaurant. At its entrance, back towards him, she stands. He takes a mouthful of air, swallowing her smell.
He taps her gently on the shoulder. She turns and immediately recognizes him. Wrapping his big arms around her dainty frame, he caresses her and softly whispers in her ear, “Happy Valentine’s Day, mom!”