Penelope Sue had been an incurable romantic almost her entire life. At least, ever since she discovered the word “elopes” hidden within her own name. She was the nicest girl. Everyone agreed on that count. But she had one fatal flaw when it came to men. She expected too much.
That’s why, at the age of 32, she was still alone and on the lookout, although her latest beau, Charlie, was showing some promise. Charlie was a computer programmer and Penelope Sue worked in a legal office. They met over the Internet playing word games.
Her favourite time of year was Valentine’s Day. It wasn’t the symbols that counted with her, cupid with his bow and arrows, nor was it the flowers or boxes of chocolates. It was the mystery that really got her revved up.
Would she have a date for the big day? Would he surprise her with something really special? To help matters along, her choice in men had been strategically targeted. First there was the florist she started seeing in her early twenties. He arrived at the doorstep with the largest bouquet of roses she could have ever imagined. But he moved to Vancouver and the relationship petered out.
Then there was the fireworks salesman. He promised to write her name in the skies. Unfortunately, whatever sparks there were between them quickly fizzled.
And there had been others, a candlestick maker, a greeting card executive and a jewellery store owner. None of them worked out. Then along came Charlie. He was the most pedestrian of the lot. Still, there was something about him. If only he would declare himself.
On the 14th of February, she started her day the same as always, by checking her personal e-mail. That’s when she got her first message from Charlie, only one word, “blue”. Very curious! She went to work pondering where this was leading. It was a good feeling.
During her lunch hour, she looked at her Twitter site and there it was again, another posting from Charlie. This time the one word entry was “wine”. She was used to short responses on Twitter. Still, this was taking brief to a whole new level.
Just before she left work, a third message arrived from Charlie, this time by text message on her cell phone. The screen highlighted the single word “limo”. Surely this was going somewhere interesting.
Penelope Sue hurried home. She was expecting Charlie to arrive at her apartment later that evening. Also she wanted to go on Facebook and let all her friends know about the strange day she was having. But there was Charlie again, directing her to YouTube.
She clicked on the link. The video could not have been simpler, just Charlie talking casually while holding up a placard with a giant question mark on it, written with a black felt pen.
“Hi sweetheart. You must be asking yourself why I have sent you those three words. That’s for you to figure out. I’ve come to know you pretty well, Penny-Sue, your love of games and your particular abilities. This is my special Valentine’s Day present for you. Have fun. Here’s a final clue? Why is the missing piece in the puzzle.”
Penelope Sue settled back to give this matter more thought. The three words certainly conjured up romance. She carefully wrote them down in block letters on a piece of paper.
BLUE WINE LIMO
She remembered dates that included some combination of the three, perhaps a blue dress, a limo ride and plenty of wine. But those had always been with somebody else. Perhaps this involved something Charlie was planning for the future, but that didn’t feel right.
She and Charlie had become a stay-at-home couple. They would cook a nice meal and rent a movie or just spend time quietly talking about this and that. What they loved best was to play scrabble or do a crossword together or solve some kind of riddle. Of course, that was it, an anagram. The letters started to swirl around in her head. An hour later, she gave up. Nothing was making sense.
Charlie was due in an hour. She wanted to figure the puzzle out before he arrived. One more dud relationship was too depressing to even consider. Mentally, she went back over everything that transpired during the day.
When she finally came to the video, she replayed his words in her head. “Why” is the final piece in the puzzle. Then it came to her. She grabbed the piece of paper and added the extra letter.
BLUE WINE LIMO and Y
She saw it in a flash. When Charlie rang the doorbell at eight, she rushed into his arms.
“Of course I will,” she said. Back on the coffee table, the paper lay face up with the re-worked words:
WILL YOU BE MINE?
It was the best Valentine’s Day present ever.