This is a story inspired by Neil Diamond’s song. I don’t see another place for it, so I’m posting it here.
You Don’t Bring Me Flowers
She dries her hands at the kitchen sink while staring out the back window. At the same time, the last song on the CD player ends and the house fills with silence. It almost hurts her ears, the silence. She doesn’t like it. Quiet allows her mind to kick in, to think. Just as she was thinking this very moment, while staring out the window, looking at the rosebush in the middle of their backyard, the lone, solitary plant in that yard. He had plans for more plants, but they never seemed to get planted.
That bush he had brought home for their first anniversary. Every year for her birthday he would write her a song and bring her pink roses, while they were dating. When, after they married, he tried to change the tradition by buying her pink roses for their first anniversary, there were none in town. Not surprising in a small town with only one flower shop. So, he bought her a pink rose bush instead.
“Now there’ll be no excuses for no pink roses,” he sang to explain his quest for the illusive pink rose as he sat the dirt covered potted plant in the middle of the living room floor. He then kissed her and before she knew it, they were on the floor as well.
However, that was twenty years ago. She turns from the sink and walks to the table still set for two. The emerald table cloth is the perfect background for the gold banded white china plates. The gold cloth napkins still lay on the table rolled in the white china rings. The rings were part of a set given to them for their fifth anniversary by his parents. That anniversary seems such a long time ago now, a lifetime ago, a lifetime of broken promises, missed dinners, forgotten evenings together, and his friends in crisis. It was that fifth anniversary she spent with his parents. They were to meet him at the English pub downtown, but he never showed up. His friend, Will, “needed” a ride to the grocery store. Will wanted to stop at the video store next to the supermarket and rent two movies. When he took Will home, he stayed to watch the movies, play video games, and watch the late night comedy hour on T.V. At least that is the story she was told, after spending her anniversary alone with her in-laws. He stood just inside the doorway as she asked him why no one answered the phone when she called looking for him.
“The phone never rang.” He said, and then excused himself, since it was three in the morning and he was tired and needed to sleep. She went to the living room as he went to bed. When she woke up on the couch the next morning, there was a vase of pink roses in front of her. When she sat up, she saw him, on the phone. He was apologizing to his parents. He sang her a new song that night at dinner.
The next year started a five year stint of anniversary parties. Each year his friends came, played the games he liked, and left in the wee hours of the morning, long after she had gone to bed. The next day, he would give her a written song in the morning, as he left for work. She decided enough was enough and told him there were to be no more anniversary parties with his friends. He whined that he had already ordered the flowers and invited everyone. She tried to compromise. She suggested that after the two of them ate out alone, then his friends could come over. She would meet him at their favorite restaurant when she got off of work. She waited at the restaurant for an hour and then called home. No answer. She waited half of an hour more, then called home, his work, his parents’ house, Will’s, whose house had by now become home to most of their friends, and he was nowhere to be found. She ate alone, paid the bill, and drove home, to find him eating pizza and playing games with his friends.
After that, the anniversary parties stopped. He began coming home late on miscellaneous evenings, smelling of perfumes, oddly scented soaps, or flowers that were not pink roses. She tried, but could never catch him with someone else. For five years, though, she played the game of calling and no answer, him saying he was one place, but the people there saying he wasn’t, and his arriving late with no excuses. Their anniversaries were take-out, eaten at home, and a few impromptu lines of a spur of the moment ditty, before his favorite television program.
By their fifteenth anniversary, he was down to half a dozen pink roses. That year he sang along with an old record, and took her for a fast-food dinner. Then he hurried her home for the television, again. She went to sleep early, and slept all through the night.
Then things changed. He began taking her out to nice places. He paid someone else to sing her a song. This happened for the next three years. Last year though, he came home late, too tired to do anything, handed her one pink rose, and promised to do something special tomorrow. Well, as with every other special thing she had ever wanted to do for the past nineteen years, tomorrow never came. By this point in their marriage, though, she didn’t expect it to. They might as well be living separate lives, in separate houses. The fact that they still even shared a bed seemed ridiculous; at times, almost comical.
She realizes that she has spent too much time thinking about the negative. She gets her dinner, eats, then cleans up the table and puts everything away. As her dirty dish clanks in the bottom of the sink, she looks out the window again at her rosebush and thinks, “At least I still have you.”
The door lock clicks and he comes bounding in.
“Well,” he walks into the kitchen empty handed, “I’m off to bed.”
He gives her a peck on the cheek and heads for the bedroom. He stops himself short of entering. She takes one more look out the window, as he comes back into the kitchen.
“By the way,” he says nonchalantly, “When you were at work, we were all playing football in the backyard and knocked over that frail ole rosebush. We tied it back up into place, but I doubt it’ll graph back.” He turns and heads down the hallway, mumbling, “Good night.”