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It would be a long time before Michelle would come to know what Michael’s gift was on this her 33rd birthday, but she didn’t know it yet. At the moment, the evening still held many promises, though she had an immediate crisis at hand, the incessant buzzing of her phone, which was lost somewhere in her pocketbook. Since it’s her birthday, she couldn’t ignore it, but she had several bags of groceries, plus a soggy umbrella, she had previously closed upon entering her apartment building, but which, as if in answer to the phone, suddenly broke open, jerking her body and causing the straps of her pocketbook to fall off her shoulder and down her arm, which then caused the groceries in that hand to fall to the ground. She had just one wish – find the keys.
Finally, she stumbled through the door, dragging the fallen grocery bags in and relieving her right arm of the other bags and the troublesome umbrella. Her phone started to insist again.
Michelle: “Hey Sue, what’s going on? No, no, don’t tell me. I just dropped the groceries and I think my eggs are broken. Hang on.”
She cradled the phone between her ear and shoulder, and gingerly picked up the container of broken eggs, placing them in the sink with an exasperated sigh.
Michelle: “So, I had a bright idea … that for my birthday, I would surprise Michael by making his favorite dessert, but that plan just went out the window. I broke most of the eggs.”
Sue: “You won’t believe whom I ran into today? Felice, Michael’s ex-girlfriend. Oh my God, she was sitting right at the window of this café, and as I crossed the street, we both stared at each other … awkward”.
Michelle: “Well, it’s a free country … did you talk to her?”
Sue: “Yes, I had to. We locked eyes, and she waved at me, so I dropped in to say hello”.
Michelle: “Oh … so, what did she look like?”
Sue: “She looked great, actually. Apparently, she just moved back to New York from Chicago, where she had been living for the past 2 years. She says she’s staying at an Air BNB, but looking for a place in the West Village.”
Michelle: “Good for her. Is she seeing anyone?”
Sue: “Nope. She didn’t get into it, but said she just ended a relationship and just wants to start over. We only chatted for 5 minutes, so I don’t know much. Anyway, I noticed she was wearing the exact same watch Michael gave you … the Michelle watch, right? Must be a coincidence.”
Michelle: “What? Are you kidding? You are lying. Do you think Michael gave it to her when they were dating? He told me when he saw that watch, he knew it was for me, especially since it had my name already. You know what, I can’t even deal with this right now, my groceries are all over the place. I’ll call you back.”
As she hung up the phone, Michelle stood silently at the sink, staring across the room. Suddenly, she didn’t feel like cake.
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