A dream she couldn't remember woke Willow. She had fallen asleep in her street clothes; now they were wrinkly and her mouth felt icky. She was face down on her pillow and half sprawled, half falling off the bed. She stayed in her current position for a few more seconds before slowly pushing herself off the bed, rolling her shoulder to get rid of the stiffness. She dragged herself to the shower, choosing to brush her teeth inside the shower, and changed into pajamas.
She was about to switch the light off when at the corner of her eye she glimpsed the package. It was about half the size of a shoebox, wrapped in plain brown paper and tied up with a thin piece of string. She pulled the string off and ripped the paper clumsily, not caring how where the shreds landed, or that the mailing label was torn in half. All she had in her mind was her miserable day and her inability to better herself. The box was an orange-brown color she had never seen before, she took the lid off and dropped it on the floor.
She lifted the tissue paper lining the inside of the box to reveal its contents. Two tea cups, two saucers of a fine floral design. With a shake of her head and a disappointed sigh she dropped the box on the bed. What was she supposed to do with tea cups? She didn't drink tea, nor was she the sort who used fine china anyway. She was sure that if someone gave her tea leaves she wouldn't know what to do with them. She dismissed it as Faith's idea of a joke or a free gift from a credit card that she didn't need.
She sat at her desk contemplating going back to sleep or switching on her laptop. Normally it would be a no-brainer -- she needed the human interaction with her online friends -- but today she was feeling extra listless, she wasn't sure she'd be good company.
What will the gang be talking about now? If I told them about the tea cups watty will jump up and down in excitement and start telling me how to make tea, I'm sure she'll come up with optimum seeping time or some other statistical analysis. Sally or Cam will make a smartass comment about my lack of culture. Car will tell me to sell them on ebay and she'll give me advice on how much they will bring. They are good people.
She got up from her chair and headed toward her bed; she was careful not to step on the box, but couldn't help tripping over the crumpled pile of wrapping and tissue paper. Her foot almost slipped on an envelope that was buried underneath.
Gingerly she picked it up and ran her fingertips slowly over the thick paper, as if willing it to tell her who it was from, what was inside and the intentions of the sender. It resolutely refused to give up its secret. Her attention turned to the neat female handwriting on the envelope.
Could it be?
To: Ms Willow Rosenberg. From: T. Maclay. She flipped through her mental rolodex, which had very few entries anyway, but couldn't think of any T. Maclays.
She threw herself on her bed and began to read the letter inside.
Please accept this small gift as a token of my appreciation. You were very brave the other day on the train, I hope you have recovered from your injuries.
Willow's eyes grew wider and her mouth dropped. It was the pretty girl! She recalled how the girl had tended to her nosebleed and the soft skin that brushed against her own, fleetingly. It was an image that hadn't left her mind since Sunday.
She fell off her bed to the floor with a thud, as she quickly retrieved the scattered wrapping paper and tried to smooth out the dent that she had made on the cardboard of the box.
"How could I be so careless?" she chastised herself. "Dammit, Will, you're such a spaz. Something precious like this comes into your life and you dismiss it because you don't know how to appreciate it."
With trembling hands she retrieved the shipping label, which had been torn in half, and saw her own address as well as that of the sender.
"I have to let everyone know!"