Once upon a time there was an old couple. Every Sunday they would walk together through the park near their house. At the pond in the middle of the park they would sit down on a bench and watch people passing by. When the weather was good, they would stop at the ice cream stall for a two coupe cone. When the weather was cold, they would sit close to each other, buried in their thick woollen shawls and shivering every once in a while, and the man would put his arm around the shoulders of his wife. While sitting, their old voices would discuss about the family that just had their seventh child, while the father barely earned enough to feed the other six. They would discuss about the middle-aged bald man with three dogs and the girl in sport’s clothing jogging around the pond nine times. And sometimes they would talk about the ducks wiggling their tails so funnily as they walked, or the grass that grew so large it hung over the path, or the willow tree across the pond, whose branches were very popular to find shade under during warm days. The couple were married for over fifty years and never ran out of topics for talking.
At the end of every Sunday afternoon, the old couple would walk home and have a coffee, while reading the Saturday newspaper. On other days their children or grandchildren would come by and fill the house with young voices and fast feet, with the smell of herbal tea and chocolate biscuits, and soda syrup and sugar-coated candy. They would leave behind cake and child’s drawings and the promise of another visit.
On Valentine’s Days, the old man would bring a bouquet of flowers to his wife. And every Valentine’s Day, the old woman would smile and try to hide tears of happiness, because as the young girl she once was, she would never have imagined to marry a man so fine and loving as her husband.
One Sunday the couple did not appear. For weeks the bench at the pond was not occupied, and it lasted so long that other people started to use it. Then one Sunday the people passing by saw the old woman. It was a cold day, and she was nearly visible in her coat and shawl, and shivering so hard she clenched her teeth. Another day it was raining. The old woman held up her umbrella, but she kept on switching arms every other minute, and barely got to see anyone since the rim of her umbrella blocked her view. At one Sunday the weather was good and the woman walked up to the ice cream stall and ordered two double coupe cones. For a moment she hesitated, but then offered one cone to the family next to her in line.
The new year came, and then Valentine’s Day. The old woman was at home, reading a magazine about gardening and waiting for her grandchildren to visit. The doorbell rang. It was too early for her grandchildren – they would still be at school. Curiously the woman opened the door. A young man in a uniform from a package delivery service stood at her porch.
‘Good afternoon, madam. I got a delivery for you.’
He held out a bouquet of flowers. The old woman gasped, for she recognized the bouquet. Her husband used to give her similar bouquets.
‘I-I don’t understand’, the woman said.
‘Well’, the young man said, ‘Your husband has arranged you receive flowers every Valentine’s Day that is yet to come in your life.’