Lizzy lay in bed trying not to breathe too loudly so she wouldn’t miss it. She could hear the distant sound of her mam’s radio and it got louder whenever she opened the kitchen door. She was about to move when she heard the familiar squeak of the letterbox moving and the soft landing of something on the lino.
Her mam never missed the postman but Lizzy had an agonising two minute wait before she heard her go to the hall.
Lizzy held her breath again… but nothing.
She waited a while but there was no call from her mam.
No excited shouting to say something had come in the post for Lizzy.
No valentine card.
It was half term, and her new friend Molly was down in Wexford in her family’s caravan. She promised Lizzy that next time she could come. Lizzy didn’t really have any other friends so she milled around the house all day, waiting for it to get dark.
Lizzy had her own valentine card to post, but couldn’t find a stamp in the house. If she asked for one everyone would have known, so she decided to post it herself; after dark. She wasn’t allowed out in the dark, but luckily Granny’s house was two doors from Fergus’ house. It was easy to get permission to go to Granny’s house. Lizzy’s mam threw her eyes to heaven but letting her go made more sense than causing a fuss.
Lizzy went upstairs and hid the card under her coat. The outside of the envelope was covered in kisses, little xs of all different colours. She’d borrowed a couple of pens and snook into her dad’s brief case where she knew there was a green one and a red one and spent two hours filling the card and envelope with verses and kisses.Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet and so are you Postman postman do your duty, get this to my black-haired beauty I love you I love you I love you almighty, I wish your pyjamas were next to my nighty. Don’t be embarrassed, don’t you go red, I mean on the washing line, not on the bed. The sea is green, the sky is blue. Do you love me, cos I love you
There was hardly a white space left on the card or the envelope. Holding it tight through her coat, she headed towards her Granny’s house. When she got to Fergus’ gate she stood there for ages. She heard someone up the road talking & it made her jump. She grabbed the handle of the gate and lifted it. It squeaked so loud that she dropped it and froze, waiting for someone to come to the door and catch her. After a minute her heart slowed down again and she gently moved the handle of the gate. Creeping up the path she held her breath.
The letterbox was at the very bottom of the door. She got down on her knees and as she lifted the letterbox she heard voices coming towards her. 2 people passed the gate without noticing her and Lizzy decided there and then that next year she would get a stamp no matter what.
She pushed the card through the letterbox. As the last edge of it went through there was the sound of metal hitting metal. There must have been a flap on the inside of the letterbox. Lizzy dropped the outside flap; more noise. Suddenly light was shining on her as the front room curtains opened and three faces peered out the window. Fergus’ dog was barking on the inside of the front door and it sounded like he was trying to eat the letterbox.
Lizzy ran like she’d never run before. She let the gate crash behind her and when she was almost home she stopped to catch her breath. Panic set in… “did they see me? What if they tell mammy? WHAT IF THEY TELL GRANNY?” She waited til her breathing slowed down and tried to walk into the house as calmly as she could. She tried to get upstairs before anyone heard her, but before she could her mam was in the hall.
“Well? did you deliver it?”
Lizzy stopped and turned around slowly. Her mam had a big smile on her face.
“Yeah and I nearly got caught.”
“Go on up to bed and tell me.”
Lizzy’s mam sat on the side of her bed as Lizzy told her the story of the gate and the letterbox and the dog barking. They laughed their heads off talking about it and what would have happened if granny had seen her. Lizzy wanted her mam to sit on her bed forever.
As she was leaving the room Lizzy asked her, “Ma… do you love Da?”
“Of course I do.”
“And did you ever fancy him?”
When she stopped laughing she smiled at Lizzy and said, “I’ve never fancied anyone else. Goodnight love.”