The Package by S. Faxon
Almost in sync, the alarms sounded on all of the house’s touch screen devices; “Someone is at the front door-bell.”
This had to be it.
Chase jumped up from the faux leather couch in his living room, simultaneously trying to pull up the image on his phone of who activated the chorus of security sirens, while trying not to step on his girlfriend’s cat.
“C’mon,” he demanded of his phone, but the walk to the door took less time than the live-video had to load. The package that Chase was waiting for required a signature and delivery vendors were not known to wait. But those pesky solicitors with their fliers and clipboards had been spotted outside earlier. The last thing Chase wanted was to be caught up in another conversation with one of them. His nerves were likely to burst if it came to that again. Though, the chance of this package not being left with him today outweighed the risks of having to shoo away solicitors.
Swinging open the door and holding his breath, all the hopes of this delivery arriving flooded his heart and head. However, in an instant, that hope came crashing down. Instead of a tiny envelope, the purple-sweatband wearing delivery person was holding a box that was far too large to be what he was expecting.
In Chase’s let-down, he barely noticed his girlfriend cutting him off to receive the organic, recycled-material cat litter whose arrival her smartphone had alerted to her, far before the alarms roused Chase.
Feeling defeated by this distraction, Chase slumped his way back to the couch where he plopped down. The faux-leather couch’s cushions deflated slowly, sinking like Chase. His girlfriend’s cat lept into his lap as if to assure him that the package would arrive before he and his human-mom would have to leave for their reservations. Or, the cat was simply expressing to him that he was hungry. Either way, Chase was feeling slightly less concerned.
It took but a minute to change that feeling of peace right back to panic. It had been custom made, flown halfway across the planet, it was perfect for her, and yet, it wasn’t here yet. If it didn’t arrive in time before they left for the restaurant, Chase didn’t know what he would do. He already had the box where it would live, the hand-carved, gold-filigreed box that her grandmother had passed on to her for reasons he could not presently remember, but he knew meant the world to her.
He pulled that lovely wooden box out from behind the pillow where he was hiding it and rested it atop the end-table beside him.
It was lovely. Her mother had delivered it to him (in a timely fashion) a few days before. Maybe it would suffice as a buffer gift, given its significance, but what good would it really be without something to put in it? Sure, he could recommend her to store her bracelets or earrings in it, but it was not what he had originally planned.
His knee began to bounce up and down so quickly from his nerves, that the hungry cat deemed it best to heckle the other human instead, leaping away from the man with an annoyed swing to his hips. Chase watched the cat bound upstairs to return to his mama who was probably just about finished getting ready for their special evening out.
“She doesn’t expect it. There’s was no way,” Chase reasoned with himself, his knee bouncing furiously now.
He stared at the landing from the stairs where she would be coming down any minute, heals in hand, but otherwise primed and ready to go.
Chase pulled the app up on his phone for the twelfth time in the last hour. It still read, “Two stops away.” How far away could those stops be?
“Have you ordered the car yet?” his girlfriend shouted from upstairs.
Chase’s heart dropped. He snatched the wooden box and shoved it behind him for fear of her running downstairs. If she was already asking about the car, he was done for.
“Not yet!” he hollered back, his bouncing leg was doomed to knock a hole through the floor. “Are you ready?”
Her lack of response told him that she was brushing her teeth. All that would be left was lipstick and grabbing those shoes.
And then, it happened.
“PING,” sang from his phone.
Whipping the screen to his face, he held his breath.
“Unfamiliar face at the front door,” the screen read, a second before…
“Someone is at the front-door bell.”
The sirens sang once more.
This time, Chase did not bother with checking who it was. Solicitors be damned! He would stand out on that porch and wait for that package to come until his girlfriend dragged him to the restaurant to meet their reservation. Let those folks with their fliers come at him, he was ready for the fight.
Opening the door for the third time today to see a stranger’s face, Chase thought he’d never felt more relieved, certainly never before from seeing a medium-sized envelope.
“Chase Hamilton?” the delivery guy asked.
“Yeah. Yeah, yeah, that’s me,” Chase’s voice quivered. He would later wonder how crazed he appeared to this delivery guy, standing in a nice jacket, with sweat beading on his forehead, and his hands shaking.
“I just need your signature, sir,” the delivery person extended to him his phone and Chase hurriedly scribbled the messiest signature he’d yet signed in his life. The delivery person didn’t mind – Chase was hardly the oddest person he’d delivered to today.
Then, in a smooth, quick motion that Chase would remember involving angels singing and heavenly clouds appearing, the envelope was finally in his hands. Chase breathed again for the first time in what felt like hours. Looking squarely to the man whose face he would never forget, he said, “You saved my life tonight, man.”
“No worries, man,” the delivery person said with a shrug. “Have a good one!” He hopped down the stairs and headed back to his car.
Chase did not waste a minute. He spun back into the house, shut the door, ripped open the vessel, grabbed its contents and flung the envelope into the living room, where his girlfriend would miss it, at least for now.
He ran back to the couch and in a ninja-like fashion, retrieved the special box from the couch and shoved it into his jacket’s pocket.
His girlfriend was now coming down the stairs.
He did not have a second to peek inside the newly delivered item, but he stowed that small, black box into his pocket with the confidence that now, everything was going to be alright.
“Who was that?” his girlfriend asked, sitting on the bottom step in her elegant blue gown to dawn her high heels. “And why are you so sweaty?”
Chase took a moment to let her take his breath away before answering, “It was just another one of those stupid solicitors. Are you ready yet?”
“Yeah, I’m ready. Did you order the car like I asked?” she stood gracefully and pulled her own phone from her purse. “Why don’t you go dab your face a bit and I’ll get the car. You smell really good, by the way.”
While his girlfriend pulled up the app to order their lift to the restaurant, Chase walked away to grab a napkin. He knew he wouldn’t be sweating any more tonight. With the newly acquired ring and her grandmother’s jewelry box in his pockets, he was completely at peace to ask her to be his wife.
A tremendous thanks to my friends Jennifer G. and Kitty C., respectively, for the photos and the inspirations for this story that they provided! Thank you, Ladies!