DAY 4- Feb 4th
Sunday morning dawned sunny and cold. Maria was up and off to 10 o’clock Mass; leaving Harry to sleep off his day fishing. He had rolled in at 9pm, as she had predicted, slightly drunk, but perfectly happy. He had dropped his tackle box just inside the door, dropped his flak jacket in the hallway, yelled over his shoulder that she didn’t need to make him any dinner (she hadn’t anyway) because he had gone with the boys to the Loveless Café had their famous Southern fried chicken.
Maria enjoyed the sermon at church but took a pass on the family picnic planned afterwards (it was hard to be a family of one) telling the ladies who invited her that she had papers to grade and she had to update her homework website as the school district expected her to do before Monday.
Maria picked up hamburgers and tatter tots at the Sonic, ice tea for her and a root beer for Harry and headed home. She turned on the computer, and ate her lunch while she graded papers and started e-mailing the children’s scores to their parent’s e-mail addresses. Harry ate his lunch, sitting with her by the computer, telling her all about the fishing trip, who caught what, then got up and went back to bed for the afternoon.
Maria completed updating all the reading assignments and the homework expected of her students this week. She now took a few minutes for herself, going over her own e-mails she had received on her school account.
One was from BootBoy111 ‘re: Teacher Valentine’. Maria opened that one, smiling to herself, hoping it might a special one.
The message was “T” has sent you a singing valentine.” Tinny music started playing and a big fat red heart grew in the middle of the screen and little legs sprouted on the heart and it began to dance across her screen, to and fro. The heart was singing The Beatle’s tune ” Love, Love Love, You got to have Love .”
Maria nearly laughed herself right onto the floor
Below was a personalized message: My Darling, Querida, my heart is with you today. I dreamt of you last night. Holding you in my arms would be my greatest joy. T”
Again, a single initial. The letter T. But another Valentine. Maria smiled to herself, a warm spot growing in her heart.
DAY 5 – Feb 5th
Monday morning found Maria back in her classroom and looking forward to the day as she had not looked forward to it in ages. She hoped her secret admirer would present himself to her soon.
Maria set her pocketbook down and sat at her desk organizing her thoughts before all the kids came in. But also thinking about her latest valentine message, a computer delivery this time. Of course anyone at the school would know her school e-mail, but Maria thought is was more than just anybody. She thought about Ted Killen the computer tech teacher. He worked at the other end of the school but they had chatted here and there? Could it be him?? “T” for Ted?? I seemed almost too easy.
As she looked back down at her desk, Maria realized that Harry’s picture was no longer sitting in it usual place beside her pencil can. Instead there was a leather picture frame and the long, lean body of a professional cowboy wearing dusty chaps walking toward the camera; big silver championship belt buckle riding low on his belly. A big Stetson pulled over his eyes and thus leaving his face in shadow.
My God, Maria thought, this must be him
Maria turned the frame over and read the dedication “To You, My Love” “Amarillo 2001
And that was it No name. Not even an initial. Maria frowned slightly, than she smiled. She smiled a lot lately.
DAY 6 – Feb 6th
All day Tuesday, Maria waited for her Valentine to deliver something special to her. But nothing appeared on her desk. She ran into the computer teacher Ted and he asked her to have lunch with him Wednesday. He seemed to be flirting with her when he asked if she had gotten his e-mail Sunday, so Maria said yes to lunch.
She was a little disappointed to realize that he was her admirer, because there seemed to be no sparks between them. But his first initial was T for Ted. Maria was a married woman, and she would just have to remind him of that. Ted would not be a temptation to her honor.
But he gave her no valentine in person, so Maria was a little disappointed in him, but also a little disconcerted. Was he shy?
At 3:45 Maria found her Valentine. A perfect red rose clipped under her windshield wiper on her car. She picked it up to smell it’s scent, just as several students walked by. They saw her with the rose, but they did not say anything to her. The little tag attached had a single letter “T” on it.
DAY 7 – Feb 7th
Late in the day Maria stopped at the drink machine in the staff lounge and got a cup of coffee. Gabe was standing there, his hip leaned up against the counter having himself a late afternoon coffee, so Maria told him and Gloria (who had wondered in) about the red rose found on her windshield the day before.
“Did either of you see anyone by my car? Maybe sometime yesterday afternoon?” Maria asked, but they both shrugged their shoulders. Na da.
Maria went home, slightly disappointed that no valentine had been delivered today. Since Harry was not home yet, she checked her e-mails.
There is was.
From BootBoy111, no subject.
“My Darling Maria I have been watching you for sometime now. You have my complete attention. I dream about you in a beautiful red blouse I know that you would wonderful in red As it caresses your smooth skin, the contrast would be so intoxicating Your long dark hair would look wonderful on your red blouse I promise to take you in my arms, kissing your lips. Whispering love to you, and waking in the morning to love you again. Your secret admirer, your lover, T”
DAY 8 – Feb 8th
The next day, during a school break, Harry calls to tell Maria he is done being mad and he will be home for dinner. Maria wonders who he is mad at?? He has not even seen her perfect little rose from yesterday? He does not know about her sexy e-mail Valentine.
Strangest of all, Maria had not even noticed that he had not been home last night. How often did she fail to notice Harry, one way or the other. Apathy. Maria knew it was a real bad sign, worse than anger.
Maria looked forward to her lunch with Ted. Especially about the e-mails he told her he’d sent her. Ted did not seem like the sexy type, but who knew? Maybe he was a tiger at the keyboard.
But as lunch progressed, with Ted telling her all about a new, extracurricular venture he was now involved with, which he wanted to share: retirement investments. Maria listened, but with only her ears, her mind had completely wondered off. Maria had probably erased Ted’s e-mail as junk. Why wouldn’t she? They were junk After lunch Gabriel brought a new package to Maria from the front office. Her children were taking reading test, so Maria whispers to Gabe. When was this delivered? She asked him, did you see what delivery company service it was? Gabe just shrugged. Maria knew such things would not be important to him. He probably thought it was a gift from her husband, as anyone would. Maria knew there was very little chance of that. It looks like a jewelry box, Gabe offered, absently, maybe it’s an engagement ring?
Engagement ring? Maria gasped at him, why would someone send me an engagement ring? Maria stared at him. Men were so crazy. She was married but wouldn’t any man who wanted to give a ring want to give it to her in person? Well, Gabe leaned over her desk, he whispered to her ‘It’s not like you already have one’. He left her with that zinger and left the room.
“Are you going to open it,” Mandy in the first row asked. “We all know you have a secret Valentine. John saw the rose on your car.”
“Please open it,” Tommy asked.
Maria thought momentarily of the ultra sexy e-mail she had opened the day before. What if this gift was meant to be private, not for viewing by children.
No. Maria knew that whoever this was he knew if he delivered it to school than children and possibly other teachers would see it. No. It would be personal, but totally respectable.
She tore off the gold foil and opened the little black velvet jeweler’s box and gasped, her eyes widened, thinking he could not have amazed her more. Nestled in purple velvet was exquisite gold cross. The children’s “ohs” and “ahs” and Maria sighs. In response to their begging she put it on immediately. And it looked lovely.
DAY 9 – Feb 9th
Friday was less eventful. Maria received a box of chocolate hearts and a note that she could share these with her students and friends.. The note on them read “Querida, think of me as you pass these about to those you like and are your friends. I too am generous, but soon I would like to have you all to myself. T”