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“The Gift” by Rik Lonsdale

That morning the postman brought Rachel a card. She knew who it was from, of course. The envelope had a US stamp and the only person she knew in the States was her son. She missed him, but Tim had met, and fallen in love with, an American while at university. They were both computer experts and had gone to live in San Jose where the well-paid jobs were. She didn’t expect to see him anytime soon either, they were working hard to save enough to buy a house.

Rachel opened the card. It was lovely and contained a proper, handwritten letter from Tim. She stood the card on the coffee table and saved the letter to read later. It was a fine, spring day so she spent the morning and much of the afternoon in the garden. She was exhausted when she finally put her feet up with Tim’s letter and a cup of tea.

Rachel woke to the sound of her husband’s voice.

‘I’ve got this for you,’ he said.

Rachel had fallen asleep on the couch. She stirred when he spoke and stroked her cheek.

‘Hello Johnny, I didn’t hear you come in, when did you get home?’ she said.

‘Just now, it was quiet at work, so I sloped off early.’

‘I must have fallen asleep,’ said Rachel, with a sidelong look.

She’s feeling guilty for sleeping in the afternoon thought Johnny. He picked up the cold cup of tea from the coffee table. It was full.

‘I bet you’re thirsty as well. Would you like a fresh cup?’

‘Please,’ said Rachel as she levered herself into a sitting position. ‘What’s this?’ she said, picking up the small packet that Johnny had left behind on the table.

‘It’s just a little something for you,’ called Johnny from the kitchen.

‘I wonder what it is?’ said Rachel, but Johnny couldn’t hear her over the noise of the kettle coming to the boil.

It was rectangular, grey and plain. Rachel shook the packet and held it to her ear. There was no sound. She thought it might be jewellery but hoped not. Lovely as he was, Johnny had never understood Rachels taste in clothes, or jewellery, despite their thirty years together.

She put it down next to Tim’s card. It was joined by a fresh cup of tea and Johnny sat next to her.

‘I’ve got a card and a letter from Tim,’ said Rachel, ‘and now a present from you, what’s going on, it’s not my birthday.’

‘Why don’t you open it and find out?’ said Johnny.

Rachel opened the packet carefully. Inside was a bulging envelope. Rachel looked quizzically at her husband. ‘What is this?’ she said.

Johnny laughed. ‘Have a look, I’m sure you’ll like it.’

Rachel opened the envelope and found five hundred US Dollars. ‘Why are you giving me foreign money?’

‘I thought you might need some cash when we fly over to see Tim next week. It is Mother’s Day and you should see your only son at least once a year.’

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