Flash Nonfiction by Pam Munter
There are very few benefits coming from the first days following open-heart surgery but one of them is that friends and family send flowers, cards and warm messages. Two days after coming home, a gorgeous bouquet of roses arrived from Amazon with no card, so I called to find out who sent them. Ten minutes and several explanations and reconnections later, I repeated my dilemma to a woman I could barely understand. She laughed after nearly every word. Following several attempts to get her to understand my Signal Corps, spell-lettering of the code, she demanded all my account info.
ME: This isn’t about me or my account. It’s about who sent the flowers. I didn’t send them to myself. How could there be anything nefarious about this?
GIGGLER: Oh, I see. Can you give me your email?
ME: (deep breath) Sure. (I reluctantly comply, then comes a request for my address. Now, Amazon is hardly a stranger at my house, delivering a myriad of mostly unnecessary items at least weekly.)
GIGGLER: Can you read back that bar code again, please?
ME: (About ready to hang up, hoping the giver will eventually come forth and confess. I’m exhausted. I slowly read off the damned code again.)
GIGGLER: Do you have a family member who might have sent this?
ME: Oh, it’s a guessing game. Is that a clue? It’s a family member?
GIGGLER: I can’t tell you outright but I can confirm.
ME: This isn’t an ICE investigation into my family tree, is it?
GIGGLER: (This unleashes a torrent of laughter but the interrogation now seems like it’s going on way longer than the Census) Do you have a sister?
ME: I had no idea I would have to compete to get the info. How many guesses do I get? Does the name start with an M? (Wait. It occurs to me I have several friends who are also candidates. Let’s see…I run through the names of a few relatives who might do something this generous. Some are so distant I don’t think they know where I live. I venture a guess.). My cousin, Al?
GIGGLER: No, that’s not it. Sorry. Don’t you have a sister?
ME: (She’s insistent I have a sister. Should I apologize because I don’t have a sister? And why don’t I want to tell her that? I conclude it’s from a woman. I reach into the second tier of likely relatives and venture a wild guess: my brother, whose last name is not the same as mine.)
GIGGLER: (obviously thrilled beyond reason, trilling with joy) That’s it! You got it! You got it!
ME: (I look around for streamers dropping from my living room ceiling) What do I win? Another anonymous bouquet? A new car?
GIGGLER (near hysteria now) You guessed it right. Oh, I’m so glad to have been of service, Mrs. Munter. I’m sending you a text so you can rate my service today.