A fresh poinsettia plant sat just outside the office door. It was for me. Mr. Invalid had tucked a tiny Christmas card into the folds of green foil that held the pot. I suppose Judith would have found the gift charming or perhaps a token of what was due to her as chatelaine. I found myself touched almost to tears. Then guilty. Should I bring something over to him? Should I have sent out cards?
“Oh, we’re getting-" said Patty, tripping over the carpet behind me.
“Getting what?” I asked, placing the plant on the piano, realizing as I did that with the exception of some Christmas cards sent by tenants with their December checks, it was the only bit of decoration we had. Next year, I’ll order a wreath and a small tree. Maybe one of those Norfolk pines that comes in a little pot. I could keep it alive on my patio and bring it to the office every December – every year it would be a little bigger. Every year I would know more and I would be gracious.
“Oh, nothing,” she said, rummaging in her purse for the money order and a Mont Blanc fountain pen, which she flourished in my direction. “The application? I won’t take long, I bet you’re ready to quit for the day.”
As the day had barely got started, I wondered what she meant, but I was happy to take her money, her no-doubt flawless credentials and usher her out of my sight. Until move-in day.
“I hope you’re flexible about the move-in,” I said. “I’m not going to pressure Susan or any of Abigail’s family to empty that apartment until they have to.”
She pursed her lips and smirked. “Not a problem,” she said and within minutes was gone leaving an air of Shalimar I’d carry with me throughout what would turn out to be a very long day.