Word Count: 1443
Christmas – Monday December, 28th
It had become a weekly routine to check Goren's home, but this Monday was different. I was sad as I entered his empty apartment. I knew he wouldn't be here and I missed him, missed our yearly Christmas ritual. I missed our promises not to buy gifts and in the end each of us bought a little something for the other one.
Even this year I'd organize a little gift for Bobby. I had bought a simple silver - but in my eyes beautiful - tie clip. I had been astonished to see Bobby back in a suit and tie during our last case. I wanted to honor his transformation with this little item to show how much I liked the return. I reached into my shoulder bag and placed the specially wrapped gift beside his collected letters.
The last weeks had been hard. It was terrible not to know where Bobby was, but at least I knew he was alive. Okay, I knew he was alive as he'd changed planes at Heathrow. In early December I had received a post card with new assurances that he'd be careful on his mission.
I gave the dying rubber tree water. Dear, that was the only plant in the whole apartment. We'd often made jokes about it. The polypetalous plant was the only living thing Bobby had a close longtime relationship with, but their time together had been a roller coaster. The ficus fought for survival from Day One in Bobby's home. I had tears in my eyes as I dusted the petals. I had given Bobby that plant for our first Christmas. Was asking me to water the plant just an excuse for Goren? Did he want to let me know something? If so I wasn't getting it.
I inspected Bobby's sparse mail and sorted out the junk mail. I found a third letter from a New York State Sherriff's Office – this time Chester County. I laid it with the other official looking envelops from different government agencies. Job offers - I grinned. When Bobby was back in the city, he'd have his pick of jobs. I heard the letter box clacker just as I was about to leave the apartment. The postman brought something new. I went out to get the post. It was just one letter in a simple white envelope, but instead of Bobby's name in the addressee line was Alexandra c/o Goren written in my partner's handwriting.
I quickly turned the letter over, but there was no sender. Back in the safety of Bobby's locked home, I opened the mailer.
Merry Christmas little sis December, 20th
I'm sad that we can't celebrate the holidays together, this year. I know this is totally my fault.
Let me say, that I arrived safely at my destination and even in the short time I've been here, I've managed to find a lot of information. I hope I can come back soon.
I miss you,
P.S. look at my night table. There is my Christmas gift for you.
I stared at Bobby's words and re-read them more than twice, as I leaned against his apartment door. Little sis. I rolled my eyes, but between this and not sending the letter to my address… Maybe Bobby hadn't been alone as he wrote these lines. Did he not want me involved in his doings?
I pushed off the door and scanned the envelope closely. But I couldn't identify the post mark. Then I walked slowly from the small hall through the living room into Bobby's bedroom. I had never been in his bedroom before. It was a strange feeling to break into Bobby's realm. I pressed down the handle and the door swung soundlessly inward. I leaned against the frame and peeked carefully around. The small room was dominated by the king size bed. The covers and sheets were pulled taut and tucked beneath the mattress. I asked me amusedly how long ago Bobby had left the Army. Beside the bed there were only two floor to ceiling bookshelves and his closet. Straight lines, simplicity, but not cold or uncomfortable. I had expected something different from my partner, but I liked his taste.
I went to the night stand and found an old booklet with a black worn leather binding. I opened it at the first page and read: Frances Goren 1960-1970. I leafed through the yellowed pages filled with a beautiful handwriting. I couldn't believe it. This was the diary of Bobby's mom. I was overwhelmed that he trusted me enough to share her private thoughts with me. I had to sit down as the significance of that honor dawned on me.
Speechless I pressed the little book against my chest and choked back the welling tears. "Where are you, Bobby?" I whispered into the silence. "And how are you doing?"
I opened the diary again. It flipped open at the page where Bobby had stopped reading – August '61. I smiled – the time of Bobby's birth. I knew that he had been the last person reading his mom's diary because I found the wooden bookmark burned with his initials which I had given him at Christmas in 2005 or 2006. A one inch strip at the end of the bleached wood was scratched and told from use. I had never seen Bobby using the bookmark at work. He must have used it only for personal books, for many private readings.
My right index finger ran slowly up and down the carving. Bobby showed so much attention. I had to blow my nose because I was moved to tears.
My thoughts ran back to yesterday. Brian wanted to barter the romantic picnic basket I had purchase for him for a golf club. I had been furious and boiled when he had said he needed the receipt for the exclusive wicker basket so he could return it to the store. I had planned the perfect gift for my boyfriend for over a month and now he wanted to exchange it for a golf club, something only he would be able to use. I didn't play golf, I had never gone with him to the course and I didn't plan to change that in the future. Beside the filigree plates and cups in the basket, I had added a few very personal gift coupons, like one shoulder massage, a shared bubble bath, a home-cooked dinner and much more. Moreover, I had contacted an old school friend, Ronny who worked at the botanical garden. I had persuaded him to open one of the palm houses in the garden one night in January, so Brian and I could give the picnic basket a test drive during the winter.
But no, my boyfriend wanted a new nine iron more. How long I could endure that relationship? I rubbed my shoulder because the bra Brian had given me for Christmas didn't fit. The combination of panties and bra was vulgar and neither my size nor my color, but I wore the lingerie to please Brian.
Where had my boyfriend disappeared - that strong support during my unstable and difficult time with Bobby? Brian had helped and encouraged me over the last 18 months during the mess surrounding Gage, Wallace and Brady. He had been the one I could lean on after a hard day of work and during Bobby's healing process. We had had so much fun together and now…now everything was so complicated and felt so wrong.
Later that night
Tears moistened my face. Brian had given back my gift. Did he really think that I would spend the night in his bed after that? After visiting Bobby's home I had driven to Brian's apartment in Manhattan. We had had a big argument, I still felt it in my bones. In the end I had thrown the ugly bra and panties in his smug face. It wasn't the first time that I thought I was there just to warm his bed and to satisfy his sexual needs…boring and clumsy sexual needs. Brian didn't want a partner. He wanted someone to organize his private life, a woman for home and children and I wasn't such a woman. Of course to have your own kids would be wonderful and I was so thankful for the experiences I had with the surrogate pregnancy of my nephew, but my biological clock was ticking and I knew deep inside that Brian wasn't the right one to start a family with.
I snuggled deeper in my blanket. I reached for the little black diary and opened it. August '61 would soothe me.