Romantic short story
If you enjoyed the short story by Della Galton in February’s issue of Candis, here’s another of her romantic tales for you to enjoy!
Romance for beginners
by Della Galton
Meg knew her Valentine’s card was from Josh the moment she opened it. “How did you guess?” her brother said laughing when she rang him at work.
“No way would Tom buy a card with a red satin heart. He doesn’t do romance.”
“He might surprise you later.”
“Hmm,” Meg said doubtfully. “He said he was coming round to sort the pipework in my bathroom. I don’t think he’s even noticed it’s Valentine’s Day.”
She hadn’t noticed Tom’s lack of a romantic gene either when they’d met. But then at the time she was knee-deep in water, her kitchen having just flooded, and Tom was the emergency plumber. Only when he stayed to help clear up did she realise how much in common they had. They liked the same music, they loved old houses and they were both heavily into amateur radio.
“It’s an unusual hobby for a woman,” he said curiously.
“Dad got me and my brother into it. He said it beat computer games any day. He even taught us Morse code – which was actually pretty cool. We’d talk in code about things we couldn’t say to each other’s faces.”
“Your dad sounds like a top man.”
“He was.” Meg had felt her voice shadow. “He died when I was 15.”
“I’m sorry,” Tom said quietly.
As she drove home from work she thought ruefully that Tom may be not be a romantic soul, but he obviously cared. He was always doing odd jobs in her house, which was a lot more useful than giving her a card, she told herself, seeing his van outside and wondering if he’d found the card she’d slipped into his toolbox yet.
Meg allowed herself a brief fantasy that he’d climb out, weighed down with flowers and dressed in a suit. He was actually wearing a boiler suit and had a bit of copper piping in his hand. So much for that fantasy.
“Hi, love. I thought I’d get started straight away.”
Meg took him a coffee and sat on the edge of the bath. He didn’t mention her card, but she saw the scrunched-up envelope in his pocket.
“Do you fancy nipping out for a bite to eat later, Tom?”
“Sorry, love, no can do. Got a job at my neighbour’s.”
“Tom, don’t you know what day it is?”
He shrugged and carried on tapping away with his hammer.
“It’s Valentine’s Day – ring any bells?”
“Is it?” He didn’t even look up.
Suddenly she was cross. “It’s traditional to spend it with someone you care about.” Her voice sounded shrill. In another second she’d be shouting. “Oh never mind.” She hurtled downstairs, biting back tears. It wasn’t Tom’s fault he wasn’t romantic. Or maybe she’d read more into their relationship than was there.
He didn’t come down, but she knew she’d riled him. He was making a lot of noise, tap-tapping on the pipes. Tap, tap tap, almost rhythmically. Suddenly she realised it was a rhythm – he was tapping something out in Morse code.
She hadn’t realised he knew it, although most amateur radio users did. She held her breath and listened intently. He’d just tapped out the word YOU. Then he started the sequence again:
I. L O V E Y O U.
She took the stairs two at a time. He was bent down with his back to her and his ears were pink. Then he stood up and they were hugging.
“I hadn’t forgotten,” he breathed into her hair. “I’ve booked a table at Pedro’s. I wanted to surprise you. I guess I messed up.”
“I didn’t give you a chance. When did you learn Morse code?”
His ears went even pinker. “I’ve always known it. I’m not so good with words, Meg. Sometimes it’s easier – you know…”
And she thought of herself and Josh after Dad had died, communicating in a language no one else could understand. And she knew exactly what Tom meant. Love didn’t need words. Sometimes they just got in the way.
She kissed him and he grinned.
“You’d better get ready. Table’s booked for eight.”
“How about you?
He undid the top two buttons of his boiler suit to reveal a shirt and tie. Meg swallowed.
Love didn’t need Valentine’s cards either, but much later – after they’d toasted each other over a heart-shaped chocolate mousse – she got one of those too.
Della has a number of ebooks of short stories out now, including Lessons in Love