Jeremiah used to buy me cordial chocolates for my birthday. Perfect clumps of chocolate ruined by cherries. The first year, the box was wrapped with tidy blue tissue paper and a pink ribbon. The next, the box was on my night table when I woke up, three of the chocolates already sampled. I kissed him on the nose and made him breakfast. Jeremiah was not a romantic, though he did love cordial chocolates. Sometimes he brought them home, even when it wasn’t my birthday. Eventually, he forgot they were supposed to be for me. I didn’t remind him. It didn’t seem important. So why was I thinking about it?
Mama always asked why. Why Jeremiah? At best, he was a dullard, she said. And he was old, probably set in his ways. Men like that ain’t necessarily eager to change their pace, she said. They don’t bend as much as you want them to.
Look at me, Mama, I said. I know I’m plain. No man has wanted me yet, and I’m getting older. Soon I won’t even be a shadow that passes them on the street.
“You ain’t, Charlotte,” she said. “You’re a fine looking girl.”
“But not fine enough for suitors. I know what I am, and that’s all right. And Jeremiah–”
“You’ll be aching for a flea’s company in time.”
“Maybe. Maybe not.”
“The most interesting conversation you’ll have will be with yourself.”
Maybe, Mama, I said to the corn, which did not deem it important enough to answer.