Thank you for the puzzle! How very like you to remember and to send the puzzle as well as the answer.
Glad you had a good trip. We too arrived home safely and had a lovely Thanksgiving. My violets and iris are thriving so I'm reminded of you often. Happy holidays!
Ruby smiled as she read Kathy's postcard through the clear plastic covering. She was glad that the puzzle and the answer key had both made it to Kathy's house this time around; the first time, the answer key had gotten lost, and Kathy struggled to finish the puzzle without having the completed picture done.
She lightly rubbed the clear cover of the postcard between her index finger and thumb, reminiscing of the first few times Kathy tried to send postcards to her. Ruby had received them with nothing but smudges of ink on them, for the rains that had come through each time Kathy sent a card washed away any trace of her handwriting. This time, however, Kathy was prepared. And, of course, the one time she sent a protected postcard to Ruby, there wasn't a hint of rain in the area.
The smile on Ruby's face faded as she turned towards her bed to look at the half-empty suitcase that sat there, waiting to be emptied. It had already been a week-and-a-half since she and her husband John had arrived back home from her trip to see her family in Kentucky for Thanksgiving. John had already unpacked and put away his things, like she knew he would; he was the cleaner one out of the two of them. And, knowing that Ruby wouldn't unpack her suitcase if he didn't place it in areas where she would have to see it, every day before work he'd place it on top of the bed, hoping that she'd have the motivation to finally take care of it.
Clearly, his attempts hadn't worked; Ruby would simply place it on the floor next to the bed, or across the room. Realizing his tactic, she even tried to hide it, but somehow John had found it, and here it sat, waiting to be put away.
John won't be home for a while, she thought, maybe now's the time to get this over with.
She walked towards the suitcase, and began picking through the crumpled clothes and pairs of shoes she'd thrown in at the end of their vacation. She was grateful that her parents and John's parents all got along, and were willing to spend the holidays all together in the same place – Thanksgiving was in the house John grew up in from the time he was born until he graduated high school in Kentucky, and Christmas was in Ruby's parents' brand new house on the coast of Florida. Neither John nor Ruby had siblings, so it was just the six of them enjoying each other's company.
As she began separating what she thought were the dirty and clean clothes, she thought about how great it was that their families got along. They'd been married for almost five years now, and she couldn't remember there ever being a serious disagreement or quarrel among them.
If I or John had had siblings, would it be different? she wondered.
Her thoughts drifted back to Kathy, whom she knew had plenty of familial issues, especially during the holiday season. There never seemed to be a year that went without a famous "Wyatt Riot" as Kathy liked to call it. With three girls and four boys, along with all of their respective kids, not to mention the grandparents, there was bound to be some sort of conflict.
Ruby paused in the middle of folding a shirt, and turned back toward the plastic-covered Postcard sitting on her dark wooden nightstand. Quizzically, she stepped forward, and picked the card up to read it again to be sure she'd read it right.
Sure enough, she had – there had been no mention of a "Wyatt Riot" in Kathy's postcard, which Ruby found hard to believe. Surely, Kathy would've mentioned something if anything had happened…
Again, Ruby looked at the card. From the surface, it seemed all was well; Kathy and her husband Greg had made it back home safely from their Thanksgiving travels, she'd received the puzzle and the answer Ruby had sent her, the violets and irises…
"Well, looks like someone finally decided to put away their clothes from a week-and-a-half ago!"
Ruby looked up to see John in the doorway of their bedroom, a sly smile on his face. She smiled back and replied, "I mean…I had to, it was just driving me nuts!"
John walked into the room and planted a kiss on Ruby's lips.
"How was your day? I thought you weren't going to be home for another half hour!" she said, "I kind of wanted to surprise you with my suitcase being all put away."
John's smile continued with his reply, "I decided to take off a little early, maybe help you make dinner." He looked at the postcard in Ruby's hand and asked, "got some mail?"
"From Kathy." Ruby looked at the postcard again. "I feel like she didn't tell me something about her time with her family during Thanksgiving."
John looked puzzled. "Why do you say that?"
Ruby reminded John of the issues that Kathy's family regularly had during the holidays. "I just find it odd that nothing happened…or if something did happen, she didn't tell me. She always tells me everything."
John sat on the edge of their bed and suggested, "Maybe she's just tired of all the quarrels, and doesn't want to talk about it anymore. Or maybe her family has finally decided to end all the feuds. It's hard to put everything onto a postcard, honey. Especially seeing how Kathy writes."
Ruby sighed. "I guess you could be right. I just – I just feel like something's off."
"Well, while you ponder these things and finish unpacking," John said, slapping his knees before bouncing off the bed and standing up, "I'm going to go downstairs and start making dinner."
As he walked towards the bedroom doorway and through it, Ruby yelled, "You're not gonna even tell me what you're making?"
"It's a surprise!" he yelled back down the hall, "you also know that Kathy's just a phone call away, right?"
True, I could just call her and ask, but…there's just something about this card…Now, what was I thinking about before John got home, Ruby thought, something on the postcard…oh! The flowers!
Ruby looked at the picture on the card; there were three red roses set in a lush green background. And Kathy had mentioned something about violets and…what was the other flower?
Ruby turned the card, and read it again to find that Kathy mentioned an iris.
I gave her some violets last spring, but I don't remember ever giving her an iris…
As she picked up a few shirts to continue her unpacking, Ruby thought back on her and Kathy's friendship. Was there some significance to the flowers displayed and mentioned in the card?
Three roses…there are three girls on Kathy's side of the family. Kathy and her two sisters, Janet and Nicole. Maybe that's what they represent? If so, do the other flowers Kathy talked about in her card also represent something?
Placing the now folded shirts into a dresser drawer, Ruby wondered if she was completely overthinking Kathy's message. Why couldn't she just be happy that Kathy seemed to have a good time with her family?
I've known her for too long, Ruby internally mused, we've been friends for almost fifteen years, and Kathy never leaves a simple note like that. Not without…
Her eyes widened as she realized that her musings had to be correct.
A puzzle. It's a puzzle.
Ruby left her bedroom to go down the hall towards John's study where both their books were kept on a small, rickety wooden bookshelf that needed to be replaced two years ago, but never did. She scanned the shelves to find her gardening books then –
Ahh yes, The Meaning of Flowers, Ruby thought with a smile.
Sliding the book off its shelf, she flipped open its pages, searching for the meaning of roses.
"The rose symbolizes balance, and can express new beginnings…"
The wheels in Ruby's head immediately began to turn. So, three roses, three sisters – a balance among them all. Did any of them have any new beginnings?
"How's the unpacking going, Rube?" John yelled from the kitchen.
"Er, fine, it's fine!"
Ruby decided to check out the next flower Kathy had mentioned – the violet.
The violet definition wasn't so straightforward; its meanings were separated by color. What color were those violets I gave Kathy…white, they were white.
The book said that white violets symbolized innocence. Okay…a balance among sisters, one who might be going through a new beginning that's…innocent. What's a new beginning that's…
"A baby," Ruby found herself say aloud, "oh my goodness, one of them was going to have a baby for the first time."
It couldn't have been Kathy, she had two kids of her own. And Janet had her third child last spring. So it had to be Nicole.
Excitedly, Ruby races through the pages of the book to find the meaning of the last flower – the iris. However, her excitement faded as he read what it symbolized:
"In Greek mythology, the iris flower would represent the link between heaven and earth. Purple irises specifically were planted on top of women's graves to summon the Greek goddess Iris to transport them to heaven."
But Kathy didn't specify what color the iris was…
Ruby walked from the study back to her bedroom, the book in hand. She snatched up the postcard sitting atop her still-cluttered suitcase, and looked at Kathy's writing – it was in purple ink.
Oh my gosh. Someone's died. Nicole's baby? Nicole herself? Both of them?
Ruby dropped both the postcard and the book, and made her way to the kitchen where the only phone in the house was. John was at the sink, washing some tomatoes.
He looked over his shoulder at Ruby, a concerned look growing on his face. "Ruby, you look like you've seen a ghost, what's wrong?"
Ruby didn't answer, but picked up the phone, and dialed Kathy's number. As the phone rang, Ruby's foot continually tapped on the linoleum floors of their kitchen. She wrapped two fingers around the plastic-coiled phone cord, anxious to hear Kathy's voice.
As soon as the ringing stopped, but before anyone on the other end could say anything, Ruby interjected, "Kathy? It's Ruby."
There was silence on the other end for a moment, but finally Kathy's voice freaked out a small pitiful, "Did you figure it out?"
Tears began to form in Ruby's eyes as she replied, "Yes, yes, I figured it out, somewhat. Kathy, I'm so so sorry. Was it the baby, or Nicole…"
"The baby," Kathy said. Ruby could just hear the sadness in her voice, "Nicole didn't really have a choice."
"What do you mean?" Ruby asked.
Kathy sighed. "Nicole isn't married, Ruby. She got pregnant by some other man, who didn't want to be its father or her husband. And, of course, it all came up during Thanksgiving, and there were arguments about what Nicole should or shouldn't do with the baby. I voted she keep it, and our family support her through it, but oh, my parents just were too disgusted at the fact that she let some stranger create this being within her. So, they told her if she didn't get rid of it, they'd never want to see her again."
Ruby's hand slowly made its way to her mouth as she listened. Her eyes shut, unable to imagine the threat of never being able to see her parents again because of one mistake, because of one child.
She was no longer happy that she'd been right about there being a Wyatt Riot this year.
💙 Mishy 🦋