SECRETS IN THE HOOD
~A Short Story~
There could had once been a day like this before, but some how on Christmas Eve Day this seemed unusual and special all at the same time.
The wind blustered through the closed window even with the plastic barrier that secured it from the cold.
Amber lived in this room most of the time when she wasn’t working at her job as a waitress.
It was a room decorated all over the walls with things that made her happy. With pictures of family and friends; most she didn’t see anymore for one reason or another but she still delighted in their memory.
Amber had a big velvet rug with the face of Jesus on it tacked on one wall, and a print of an American Indian tacked up on another wall. There was a big screened TV that was left on most of the time and a little radio that was left on playing low all of the time, mostly on country music. Between two windows at the head of the bed there was a good size older mirror with some rustic flaws in it. Amber had various Cd’s scattered around so she could pick out what to listen to at any given time, as well in front of the TV there were movies organized and ready to pick from.
Amber lived in this apartment in the hood with two other women, each having their own rooms. There was a shared living room with a flowered couch, a TV, stereo, and Amber’s computer.
Besides the shared bathroom there was also a kitchen and small pantry.
All the women were young and in their twenties. All three seemed to stay pretty much to themselves, yet did also get along cooperatively.
There was one roommate that never cleaned her room, and that was Ann. Neither of the other roommates decorated their rooms like Amber. Although Christine did keep her room very neat and tidy.
Ann was an unusual looking Hispanic girl, short and round with pitch black hair. While Christine was white, tall, thin, with long red hair.
Amber was the most attractive of the three girls, mostly because of the way she immaculately maintained herself. She had dark brown skin with her brown hair kept long and wavy in a natural fro, except when she braided it in French braids.
Ann and Christine had family and friends to spend their holidays with but Amber really had no one. However Amber always tried to keep positive even though she was very lonely and often bored. With not much money to spend Amber couldn’t even treat herself out to dinner if she was so inclined to go alone.
The day was starting to grow to an end, and it seemed like something magical could happen with it being Christmas Eve. However magical very likely wouldn’t happen with Amber spending it by herself. Both Ann and Christine were preparing to go off to visit people and Amber just seemed to rattle around trying to catch some happiness from at least their good fortune to be visiting friends and family.
Amber to cheer herself dressed in festive clothes regardless that she was not going anywhere. She had planned on cooking a feast even though there would be only herself eating it. Amber thought to herself “Maybe Ann and Christine would also snack on some of it when they return home.” Amber had hopes of giving the whole cooking procedure more of a purpose with the thoughts of cooking for her roommates too.
Amber also had planned to read the Christmas Carol book which she had not read in full yet. In addition Amber set aside a Christmas movie to watch. Even though Amber was alone she was going to be alone making every effort not to feel unpurposefull or too lonely so depression would not set in.
Amber’s roommates had left for their various destinations, and she had the turkey already cooking in the oven. Christmas carols were playing on the kitchen radio as well the living room stereo was set to the same channel playing away.
It had become very dark out and the wind was still howling around the building when Amber thought she heard a knock at the back door. She went to open it cautiously seeing that the neighborhood was a bit precarious to say the least. As Amber pulled open the door she noticed there was no one there and that is when she heard some sort of noise coming from the living room!
Amber quickly shut and locked the back door and than stood still for a few moments to prepare herself for what or who could be in the living room? Amber heard the door shut as her heart pounded. She slowly went towards the living room prepared for the worse, yet what she found was curious but harmless. The living room had a stack of presents piled there and all of them seemed to be addressed “To Amber” “Love Santa”.
Amber’s mind was reeling! “Who could have done such a thing?” “Maybe her roommates?” Without hesitation she started to open up the packages, which held different things from clothing to jewelry all for her. There was one small box left which when opened held a key. “A key to an automobile?” “To a car?” Amber didn’t own a car? “What could this key mean?”
Amber dashed back to her potatoes which were now almost boiling over before she could investigate the car key more.
As Amber finished now more rapidly the dinner she was cooking, she found herself not really hungry any more. Therefore Amber prepared to store the dinner ready to heat up in case her room mates wanted some or her appetite came back. The whole time Amber was thinking about the key to the car, and even looked outside to the driveway to see if there were any different vehicles out there, but she could see none.
As soon as Amber picked up the wrapping paper and put away her new things she made a necklace out of the key to wear, so she could look at it and think on it while she watched her Christmas movie. The Christmas movie wasn’t on but fifteen minutes when Amber fell into a deep sleep.
The next morning was Christmas day and havening gone to sleep so early Amber rose early to find at least a foot of snow had fallen on the ground. She thought to herself how this was definitely a white Christmas.
As her head cleared Amber was able to contemplate more on last nights happenings with the gifts. She thought possibly her roommates had something to do with it, but when questioned they too were left curious?
Days had passed and Amber continued on her routine walking to the restaurant she worked at. It was a long cold walk, but with out transportation it had to be done.
On this afternoon Amber walked by some of the neighboring shops near her home. One was a small general store busy with people coming in and out. Another was the hoods barber shop with many men gathering in there yakking away.
This afternoon Amber noticed one particular handsome man getting groomed in the chair. He had a goatee, and a short cut as well the barber appeared to be making diagonal lines in his eyebrows that brightened up his face. As Amber walked on she could not get that handsome face out of her mind. She felt almost in love with that face.
A lonely New Years Eve passed for Amber. Weeks went by with the same routine, and still Amber wore the key around her neck. The key with no rhyme or reason.
It was now February Valentines Day; Amber went to work as usual. However a very unusual thing happened while she was at work. A bouquet of flowers; a dozen red roses came for her! There was no signature on the card; just her name. Amber could not imagine just like the Christmas Eve presents who could had sent such a phenomenal lovely gift. Amber was certainly excited and enamored to receive them; but also very perplexed?
That Valentines Day Amber hurried herself home to again question her roommates, but both Ann and Christine had no idea who could had done such a thing?
Once again weeks went by with Amber doing her same routine. Finally it was nearing Easter which was Amber’s favorite holiday! Amber just loved the bright pastel colors of spring and the thought of everything being renewed! It didn’t matter to her that this was yet another holiday she would spend alone.
Seeing that the weather was warmer Amber started taking an extra walk after work and once in a while she would catch site of that handsome man she saw in the barber shop.
Amber took the time to boil three dozen eggs to color for Easter which was the next day. This was her favorite holiday tradition. Amber decided to do something a bit crazy this year with her colorful eggs; and that was to rise early Easter morning before anyone was up in the neighborhood and sneak around leaving mysterious eggs on different people’s porches and cars for a surprise to baffle them into almost thinking the Easter bunny actually existed and left them an egg. This tickled Amber’s tummy to think of such a rascally but harmless thing to do!
Sure enough at four o’clock Easter morning Amber went to secretly distribute her eggs.
However while putting the last two eggs on her roommate’s cars; it was Amber who got the surprise of her life!
There was an extra car parked in the driveway with a big pink bow on it and a large tag that said “FOR AMBER” “LOVE THE EASTER BUNNY”. This was a major shock to her and it took a while for Amber to have it sink in that this car was meant for her!
It was a beautiful car, and seemed like it was brand new. The car was the color yellow like an Easter egg especially with the huge big pink bow on it! On the front of the hood it read BMW, and in addition it had a convertible roof! Amber couldn’t had even dreamed of such a perfect car! She kept thinking to herself “Could this really be for me?” “Is this a joke?” Finally it dawned on her that she still had the mysterious car key around her neck, and she thought to herself “Do I dare try it in the ignition?”
Feeling a surge of boldness Amber took the key from around her neck and tried it in the door lock. “It worked!” “It actually fits!”
Hesitantly Amber opened the door of this bright yellow car and sat in the driver’s seat all the time thinking she might be doing something wrong? But ultimately Amber put the key in the ignition and low and behold! It started the car! The motor purred but Amber felt a little panicked and quickly shut it off. This was unbelievable! How and who would had given her such a thing, a car! This couldn’t be real?
Than Amber looked to the passenger seat where there was some paper work of owner ship which indicated it was in her name!
This was all surreal and phenomenal she had to go wake up Ann and Christine to see if they too saw it and indeed it was a true reality!
Again Ann and Christine were in just as much of a shock over the whole car thing, but they did convince Amber that it was real and meant for her.
In the next few weeks Amber used the money she had saved to obtain auto insurance and register the car. She truly enjoyed driving her new car around especially not having to walk to work anymore. Although Amber was always feeling a little guilty she did not know who her benefactor was to give such an expensive awesome gift. She felt bad not to even be able to thank them.
Another month went by and Amber was starting to feel like some one was watching her? She kept feeling like there were eyes on her everywhere she went? Of course Amber also thought she might be getting a little paranoid because of all the unusual things that had happened since Christmas Eve.
Summer came and Amber was most of the time driving her new car with the roof down. This car certainly was a dream come true!
On this particular morning Amber drove to work with the top down. The sun was already heating up the earth. She went to her usual station and was informed that there would be a large party for her to serve that day.
When the large party arrived she couldn’t help but notice that the same good looking man she had seen in the barber shop and around town was within the group.
When it came time to serve him with anything he seemed to be the most courteous in the crowd. Amber blushed when ever she was near him. With the large group’s dinner winding down now Amber could see the handsome man approaching her. She thought “What could he want” “Oh God don’t let me stutter”.
Oddly he had come over to introduce himself as Blake Doff, and than asked if he could be so forward to ask her out to dinner sometime? Truly it was hard for Amber to answer; she was so stunned, but she finally got the word out “Yes”.
They exchanged contact information and he said he would be calling her.
The next day was Saturday and Amber answered her cell phone to hear Blake’s voice at the other end. He wanted to know if by any chance she was free that night for dinner, and of course Amber was, she was always free having nothing else to ever do.
That evening Amber learned much about Blake. He was a lawyer with the same firm that dined at her restaurant. He admitted he had seen her around before and was always captivated with her. Than he admitted something else that astonished Amber and made her speechless.
Blake confessed that he was her secret Santa, her secret admirer, and her Easter Bunny!
Blake waited for Amber to say something but she just kept staring into space, than abruptly asked Blake to take her straight home!
Amber at home started bagging all the gifts Blake had given her and intended to give them all back which included her beloved car too! For some reason she did not feel grateful but angry! Angry that a man would follow her and give her such gifts without a word and than she thought “What did he expect in return!”
Amber was so mad that she could had just spit, even though she loathed spitters.
Amber was so angry that she tuckered herself all out, and laid on the bed to cry. How was she going to return all this stuff especially the car? She also thought if she couldn’t return it; how she could live with herself knowing she had accepted all these expensive gifts from this man! What was she to do? Amber just laid there crying herself to sleep.
The next day came and Blake himself was feeling low and confused? While he sat there in his home so puzzled about Amber’s reaction to his gifts his phone rang with Amber’s voice wavering at the other end. Amber asked to meet him so she could drop off the items he had given her. Now Blake was more perplexed himself? Why would this woman he had been in love with the moment he laid eyes on her return all the stuff he gave her and seem so mad at him?
Blake agreed to meet Amber only with the stipulation she politely would hear him out when they met. Amber could be stubborn but she did agree to listen to what he had to say. After Blake got off the phone with Amber he went to his top bureau drawer and took out a small box, and next he walked down to the park where they agreed to meet.
There Amber was with her still puffy red eyes waiting in the gazebo. She was all set to leave abruptly until Blake reminded her of the deal that he would only take the gifts back unless she listened to what he had to say.
Blake knelt on one knee in front of Amber with the tiny box opened to the biggest most beautiful diamond Amber had ever seen!
Than Blake said “Amber from the moment I laid eyes on you I knew you were the one I wanted to marry. Yes I followed you and found out all about you, only because I cared and was too afraid to approach you at first. Yes I convinced your landlord to let me deliver presents Christmas Eve because I wanted to make you happy. People who are in love want to make each other happy Amber.” Blake went on and on until he said the final magic words “Amber I do love you” “Will you please marry me?” Again Amber was silent and than the crushing word came out of her mouth “NO!”
Blake felt numb with disbelief, until he heard Ambers next words come out of her smiling mouth which were “But I will agree to keep the gifts and go out with you at least until we can truly get to know each other.”
Blake felt such a relief! Even though let down a bit, he was thrilled that Amber had such wisdom to forestall their engagement, and enough understanding in her heart to forgive and allow them the chance to get to know each other.
Well readers that was just the beginning of a stellar romance!
By the next Christmas Eve, Blake and Amber were engaged.
The following Christmas Eve they were married.
Blake still practices law and Amber is busy with their four children.
Now together Blake and Amber every year play Secret Santa and the Easter Bunny for their children, but Valentines day is kept aside just for Blake and Amber to give to each other secretly.
Lisa J. Warner