Cassie’s everyday routine of locking up every morning was distracted by the beautifully wrapped package that was in a basket on her doorstep. It was a small package about the size of an A4 book that was wrapped in her favourite brand of wrapping paper. Picking it up, she grinned as she racked her brains in an attempt to guess who had been so thoughtful. She rarely received parcels at home since very few people knew where she lived. Her neighbours on the other hand only knew her as the lady who left for an unknown place (presumably work) every morning and returned before dark. They didn’t know much about who she was or where she worked so it was unlikely that a neighbour would know her well enough to wrap a gift in her favourite brand of wrapping paper.
Besides the fact that the sender must have been someone who knew a little more about her, there was not much else on the package to give them away. That would have meant that her mental effort to figure it all out was futile but there was positive twist to it. Though she couldn’t tell who had sent it, she could confidently guess that it was for her birthday. Yes, today was the twenty first, and she lightly slapped her forehead as if to reprimand her brain for failing to remind her of a day as important as her birthday. True, she lived on the fast lane and was ever busy but that was no excuse to forget about herself. Though she was on her way out, she decided to get back to the house and do things a little differently. It was the least she could do, seeing that her life had been a routine of the same old things the past year. She would take a second look in the mirror, maybe check if there were wrinkles on her forehead or if her hair was greying and she had been too busy to notice. She’d wear faint make up and wear something else that would fit in the celebratory mood that had just set in. Then she’d pour herself a cup of coffee, sit on her rocking chair and open the package as her favourite album played in the background. Doing things differently; it was the least she could do for her birthday.
Work could wait. After all, she always got there an hour earlier than the standard arrival time. This break was good for her. It made her think about all those things she had been pushing away because of her busy schedule. She drew the curtains of her living room and realized discovered the beautiful sunrise that the blinds concealed. She loved the fresh air that spread when she opened the windows. The trees and the breeze reminded her why she had not been able to move out to any of the places her realtor had recommended. Most of the places that would be close enough to her workplace didn’t have enough trees and the lover of the environment that she was couldn’t stand pollution at home after a polluted day in the city. She had made a home out of this house and it had been difficult to find a house that suited her liking or had such potential. She wasn’t difficult to please, she was just extremely cautious when it came to making long term decisions.
Though she had disliked the fact that there were so many houses in the suburban estate where she lived, she had grown to love the whole idea. She felt that the numbers would allow her to coin her life of her own without interference. A small neighbourhood would have meant that nearly everyone would know her and some would have found great pleasure being all up in her business. She was an introvert of sorts and having people know her too well was not something that she desired, at least not at this stage of her life. This didn’t mean that she didn’t interact with people. She was good with social environments, only that she didn’t let people in on her private life. In fact, she had a large circle of friends especially from work and many others she had acquired during her many years of schooling but her relations with them were mostly formal. Very few people knew about her personal life and she liked it that way.
While her coffee was brewing, she decided to take a peek at the day’s paper online. The theme of the day was about being different and since she hardly read the paper online doing so was well in line with the day’s theme. Reading the day’s paper was one of the things she did when she got to work every morning and it was an important task since her work required her to be in touch with current affairs. She was an associate editor with one of the leading local magazines and wrote a weekly column in her company’s Friday newspaper. Though her work in the fourth estate had given her a very public personality, she had managed to strike a balance with her personal life. One of her tactics had been using a stage name in the weekly column. It was very popular but not many people knew who the writer was and it wasn’t easy to find out.
Cassie glanced at the package for a while, as if contemplating whether to open it or not. The music playing in the background, the sunrays providing enough lighting, the rocking chair for comfort and the cup of coffee all set the mood right. She tore the wrapper carefully, not wanting to make any unnecessary tears or destroy the wrapper.
She got to the card first, a pink card with the “Happy Birthday Cassie” scribbled on it. Okay, so someone who knew her name, knew that she wrote the weekly column and knew that today was her birthday. If it wasn’t family, then it must’ve been someone who had worked really hard to get that kind of information. The gift: It was a book. A novel actually, that had its covers printed but there was a blank slot on the books name while the author was Cassie’s. Curiosity intensified. She flipped through the pages and realised that it was empty. Then she checked the writing on the first page.
“Quench my thirst with words of wisdom…
Fill me up with Beautiful phrases”
On the back of the card was an invite.
“Coffee Palace, 6pm. I would love for you to be there.”