top of page



February 14th, Valentine’s Day…New York City 


Cold and gray.

Cold, gray and dirty.


A more miserable place, mentally and physically, Marilyn couldn’t imagine. It was Sunday afternoon and a perpetual, gloomy drizzle muddied up the street as it mixed with the dirt and trash left by people who didn’t care.


She was close to not caring. So close that the sordid surroundings didn’t bother her. She felt less homeless out here than she did at home.


“Home?” she said out loud to herself. “Ha! That’s a laugh. Prison is a better word for it.”


She went over in her mind what had just happened…again.


“STOP! Leave me be. Look Harry, this isn’t going anywhere. We’ve done this script over and over and it’s…it’s useless. I’m tired of this endless merry-go-round! I’m dizzy and fed-up.”


“Listen Marilyn, you’re being absurd! All this time, everything I’ve given you. Is it all just nothing to you? All you ever do is complain, complain, complain. I’ve just about had en…”


“Listen?! You’re telling ME to LISTEN? You haven’t heard a word I’ve said for years now and you’re telling ME to LISTEN? I’m leaving!”


“No, no wait! I forbid it!”


“Let go Harry. LET GO!”




“Again,” she thought as she hurried away down the street. “And again, and again, and…” She felt her headache coming back and felt in her purse for her ibuprophin. She passed the corner restaurant and went into the bathroom for some water. She needed to wash, to somehow get clean. The bathroom was as dirty as the street outside. She looked into the mirror. She looked around her and then into the mirror again. That’s when the pain hit, deep inside. That’s when she really saw herself. Dazed, she turned and walked back out into the street.


“Ungrateful bi…!” yelled Harry as she slammed the door and left. He was livid, imploding!


“She’s never satisfied. NEVER! I’m so tired of all this. It drives me crazy…SHE drives me crazy. I can’t understand her. Everything used to be nice, ok, regular, easy to handle. Now she’s different, like I’m her enemy or something. Like…I’M to blame for her unhappiness. I can’t live with this stuff all the time. She gets me so confused and angry messing with my mind like that. I really don’t understand?


Harry settled down into zombie mind. He looked around at their ‘home.’ It was a small apartment, comfortable, warm…a nice place. The centerpiece of the living room was the TV. Everything faced the TV. There was a sofa and an easy chair, one of those brown recliners that were easy to get into but really hard to get out of. Harry spent many nights in that chair after falling asleep in front of the TV. There was a bookcase along the back wall with a lot of books that had been there for a long time, untouched. The whole living room seemed untouched, unchanged…for a long time.


Harry got up, struggled into his overcoat, walked out into the gray afternoon and disappeared into the drizzle.


Marilyn didn’t know where she was going and didn’t much care. She had nowhere to go. She felt homeless and sad.


“So many years together, so many years in that place with him and I feel unknown, a stranger. So many years and now I have nowhere to go.”


She started to cry and turned to hide her face from passers-by. There weren’t many people on the street but she felt ashamed and frightened. People stayed home on Sundays, especially with the miserable weather.


“People stayed HOME on Sundays. Home? I wish I could really go home!”


She looked into some of the shop windows, more to turn her mind off than to really look at anything. It was hard for her to focus and she kept shifting from sadness to numbness and back again. One moment she was a zombie; the next an emotional basket case.


“Ha!” She lifted her head back and laughed defiantly. “Harry will just attribute this to my ‘change of life’. He’s…he’s so…predictable. No change of life for him. No, just a gradual, inevitable merging with the easy chair.”


“How do these stores stay in business I wonder? They’re all full of junk. Look at that dusty old stuff.” Marilyn was looking into the window of a thrift store. All the stores on this street were old and dirty; another reflection of what she was feeling inside. Dusty. Old. Frozen. Sad. Angry. Scared!


She put her face to the window and looked in. Old coats on old mannequins. Old books on old shelves. Broken and discarded toys, everything you always see in a thrift store. She wondered again why anyone would ever buy thus stuff. She wondered why anyone bought it the first time around. She wondered if there was some central wholesaler specializing in cob-webby, musty junk for thrift stores and garage sales all over the country.


She wondered because it was less painful than what she was feeling. She was getting cold and giddy.


“Maybe I’m losing it,” she thought.


She walked up to the next store and looked in. It was different. So different that she took a few steps back from the window and looked up at the sign.




It said in different colored letters. It seemed a little sunlight filtered through the drizzle to give the sign a glow. She rubbed her eyes and again looked up.



It said again.


She didn’t remember this store. She had been on this street thousands of times and never saw this store.


“I am really losing it!” she said to herself.


She looked inside and noticed that the lights were on. Inside there were rows and rows of shelves with games and toys and dolls, so many different kinds.


Again she stepped back and looked up. Before her was an OPEN sign on the door. OPEN was what it still read the second time she looked.


She entered.


It was incredible!


All along one wall were shelves piled high with toys. There were bikes and skates, bats and gloves, baseballs, basketballs, volley balls, soft balls. There were trains and model cars, boat models to assemble and airplanes with real engines. Baseball cards, packs of them with a pink sheet of bubble gum inside the way they used to come. New packs, New toys.


She wandered down the isle and the bats and gloves gave way to skipping ropes and giant chalks for coloring driveways. There were toy stoves and fridges, stuffed animals and then…Dolls! Hundreds of dolls! Baby dolls, diapered dolls, dolls with bottles, scary clown dolls, little boy and girl dolls with matching wardrobes. Doll beds, doll buggies…


There was a ballerina doll. God, she was beautiful standing on point in her pink ballet slippers. Her hands above her head, ready to spin across the dance floor. Her face. Oh! Her face was so beautiful and alive…


“I was like that once.”


Marilyn’s heart went out to that doll. She reached for it and…she saw a tag hanging from the doll’s wrist.


“Strange,” she thought. “I didn’t see that.”


She opened the tag and read:

“Valentines from you must be thoughts of him.”


She hadn’t remembered it was Valentine’s Day. She didn’t really care.


A young woman, a very familiar looking woman, came up to her.


“May I help you?” she asked. “We’re closing soon.”


“Yes,” Marilyn said, and the two of them picked out a few items.


As Marilyn left, the young woman closed the door and twirled into the store smiling happily.



Harry felt old and tired. Exhusted. He felt like his life was over, nothing to live for and nowhere to go.


“I wonder if this is how Marilyn is feeling?” As he thought this he felt a little tingle, a light note, in his heart.


“My life is going nowhere and everything adds up to zero.”


Harry hated feeling like this. It came on him after his fights with her, which was quite often lately. Usually he just rationalized his feelings away.


“It will pass. She’ll come home, cook. I’ll watch a game. I’ll go to work. It’s a changed she’s going through. These feelings will go away!”


He wasn’t so sure anymore. Marilyn really was changing. She was unhappy and…he finally admitted…so was he.


The sky began to lighten a little. Harry turned the corner and passed the thriftshop.


“Ugh, “ He thought as he looked in the window. Then he looked up at the next store and saw a sign sticking out above the door.




It read.


Open Valentine’s Day Only


It said in smaller letters underneath.


“I never saw this before. Must be new.”


He felt his gloom begin to lift. He even felt a bit giddy.


He went in. It was incredible! He couldn’t believe his eyes. Toys everywhere. He felt like a kid again, hopped on a scooter and wheeled across the floor. Then he saw the sports stuff. Harry loved sports, particularly baseball. He was pretty good as a kid.


“I played shortstop!” he said out loud. His voice echoed back from the store shelves.


He picked up a glove and put it on. Perfect fit. He grabbed a ball and tossed it up, caught it and tossed it up again. He looked at the writing on the baseball. Once he caught a ball at a game and the players signed it. Back to the writing.


One side said “Official Major League Baseball”


The other side read, “Valentine’s Day is for thoughts of her.”


A young man came up behind Harry.


“May I help you?” He asked. “We’re closing soon.”


“Yes,” answered Harry. Together they walked through the store. Harry got what he wanted and left.


The young man followed him out, took down the sign and closed up the store. He walked off down the street tossing a ball in the air and whistling. The rain had stopped.


The sun was shining.


When Harry got home he found Marilyn waiting for him. Dinner was on the table and the table had been moved to the center of the living room. There were flowers on the table.


Harry looked at Marilyn and she was beautiful. She looked the same but…now she was beautiful. He hadn’t noticed how beautiful she is for a long time.


Next to Harry’s plate was a wrapped up package. He took his coat off and gave Marilyn a package.


“Happy Valentine’s Day” he said.

“Happy Valentine’s Day” she said. “Open your gift.”


Harry took the gift wrap off and opened the box. He took out the glove and ball. It was a perfect fit. He tossed up the ball, caught it and then read the writing.


“Official Major League Baseball”


Harry felt giddy again and his eyes began to tear.


“Open yours.” He said.


Marilyn removed the paper and opened her box. She already knew it was her ballerina doll. She took it out, held it to herself and began to cry. She looked at the face and saw herself there as she had dreamed when so young and hopeful. Tears flowed freely.


Harry reached across and took her hand. He looked at her and said: “I’ve only thought of myself for so long. I’ve been afraid of change. I’m sorry. You always wanted to dance ballet. They have classes for adults. Tomorrow we’ll sign you up for one and I’ll come watch sometimes and come to all the recitals.


Marilyn looked at him through her tears and her heart opened wider than it had in a long, long time. “I’ve been unhappy and I have been blaming you. I’m sorry. You always liked to play ball. Join a local team and I’ll come to the games and cheer for you. But it has to be softball. I’d be afraid you would get hurt if it was hardball.


So they agreed to expand their consciousness past their own personal dramas and get closer. And that night they made some popcorn, cuddled up and turned on the TV.


The next day they took a walk together, holding hands, eager again to help each other live their dreams. They went to visit the store, even though they both new…


The sign was still up above the window.




They looked in the window. The store was empty. Then they saw the sign on the other side of the window.






bottom of page