It was bright outside when John got up. First spring flowers lent fresh colors to the garden below.
Walking down the stairs he caught the mild whiff around the house. Pineapple? Had to be. Jess had gone for her early shift but not without her special birthday touch.
A nice white plate on the kitchen platform. Under a clean glass cover, three small cupcakes topped with his favorite pineapple cream.
And a single candle at the center.
A delicious sweet taste engulfed him. He didn’t bother with the candle, for he knew Jess always played some tricks.
The four tiny birthday cards on the side beckoned. Handmade textured paper, simple brush strokes, and the occasional splash of bright color. He opened them one by one. Jess had penned small verses and charming messages.
His face lit as he took it all in. Three, one, four.
The big living room was next. Gleaming wood-paneling gave it a stately air, where they always spent their evenings chatting, whenever they could find a common time. On the central glass table stood a bottle and a package.
Vintage and rare champagne.
Classic Jess! A smile crossed his lips. This is not the first time that she has done this, he thought. But of course, it was special this time.
He almost knew what was inside the gift-wrapped package placed nearby. Savoring the moment, he leisurely opened it.
Five books of his favorite author. Including the latest. Published just last week.
As if looking for the next clue, he wandered about the living room. Wondering how she would manage the bigger number after one and five.
His disappointment brought him back to the kitchen when he found none. He filled his bowl with cornflakes, added fruits and sat down near the big dining table.
It was there. Two diamond earrings above a note, which read—I’ll be back by 9 AM.
Two–nine? Did Jess make a mistake?
Then he realized that he must see it as nine followed by two.
He chuckled and kissed the note lightly. His wife of so many years, still she always surprised him. All the while he himself could never think beyond the usual suspects–dinner, spa, and jewelry.
He instinctively looked at the clock. Almost time.
Then Jess opened the main door. Light blue dress, short salt-n-pepper hair, sweet glorious grin.
“Funny and cute! I love it!” He got up and hugged her. She snuggled closer.
“My pleasure.” She took his hand and silently counted the six fingers.
His smile widened as she entwined her five fingers with them. Six, five – she is so amazing!
“Happy Birthday, Mister Abel Laureate!” She murmured.
“What a lovely Birthday treat, my dear! I almost thought it would never end!”
“You deserve it, don’t you? After all, this year you got the Abel. For cracking the biggest Pi mystery. So Pi it is!” Glancing at her handsome husband, she then added nonchalantly, “Happy Fifty-ninth Birthday, John! And I am gonna stop there, no further decimal places!”
Meghashri Dalvi enjoys writing short fiction, especially when they present a mystery. She has published several flash fiction pieces online and in print. She lives in Mumbai, India, teaches Management, and consults in Technical Communication.