Friday, April 3, 2015

Free Fiction: Aisle of Life

A little bit more of Oscar and Phillip. Lately, I've been in a sentimental mood, so they have too. And they have an anniversary coming up.

Edited to Add 4/9/15: I just now noticed that this didn't publish and was sitting there as a draft for a week. I'm so sorry!


Oscar stared at the aisle of cards. Spots of color greeted his eyes as his attention roamed left and down, then right and up. Stacks of cards stretched high and wide, offering words and pictures for every occasion.

Birthdays. Weddings. Baby showers. Get well. Good luck. Retirement. Sympathy.

All of life condensed down to a single aisle of greeting cards. There was no need to go anything farther, because the timeline was all right here, doled out in small paperboard increments with pastel envelopes. Oscar shifted his weight and finally caught sight of the category for which he'd been searching.


Oscar thumbed through the cards. Some were covered with flowers and contained sweet, inspirational messages. A few were coated in glitter that loosened with the barest touch, cascading everywhere, to make everything glint and shine. A few were humorous, some of them more crass than Oscar thought necessary, but most had a gentle humor. Two were thick and played music when opened.

Oscar quickly shut the card to stop the polka music that blared forth. Surely it couldn't be a top seller.

He mused for a moment on the tricky nature of writing the inside of greeting cards. It was difficult to find the right words to set down on paper. How could anyone dig out trenches in their heart and offer up the precious metals and gems found there onto a card for someone else?

The thoughts and emotions Oscar harbored were for Phillip only. They were secrets shared and promises given. The world could know they were in love, but their pillow talk was reserved only for them.

Perhaps he should look at the blank cards. He didn't need pre-written words to convey how much he loved Phillip.

Oscar sidled down the aisle to the blank card section. The covers on these cards were different. The romance element was turned down and the down-to-earth factor was turned up. A card with a photograph of two old men wearing overly large sunglasses caught his attention. The men were sunbathing and looked contented. Friends for sure. Not inconceivable that they might be lovers.

Oscar pulled the card out along with an envelope.

It was a nice card. Perhaps not the exact one he wanted, but adequate. He still had time to search for something better, something more profound, something that revealed just a little of how deeply he loved Phillip. He wasn't looking for too much language on the front or inside, but something visual that expressed his sense of appreciation and gratitude. But it was better to at least have something, in case his search should fail.

Phillip always came through for special occasions with something masterfully artistic. He instinctively knew the right tone and perfect pitch of what to say, and usually what to draw. Oscar cherished every single card, sketch, and doodle that he'd every received from Phillip. He had them tucked away in the top drawer of his bureau, just beneath his socks. That way he saw them frequently and kept them safe.

He often wished he had some singular artistic talent so he could reciprocate, but he didn't. Phillip had taken up with a man of many talents, but Oscar's gifts were sturdy, practical ones. Which was why he wanted to find a beautiful card to express his love. A rare and talented person like Phillip should be told how much he was loved.

Oscar smoothed his fingers over the photo of the two old men smiling into the sunshine. Best friends, and confidants. He'd keep looking for the perfect anniversary card, but he liked this one. Maybe he'd leave it under Phillip's pillow sometime this week, just because he could.

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