The Perfect Gift

Twenty five gift cards. She was getting them to give to her husband so he could buy groceries.  A new responsibility for him. He didn’t usually buy the groceries, but he’d have to start. She was leaving, and she was was going to be gone for a long time. Probably forever.
When she first decided to leave, she had immediately felt guilty. Not about the leaving. That was necessary, and she tried never to feel guilty about doing what was necessary. It was because she liked to have everything in order that the thought of his meals came immediately to mind. It really had more to do with who she was than with any sympathetic concern for him. Actually, her first thought had been to make meals and freeze them, but she figured that was just too much. Gift cards would at least put some of the responsibility on him.
She thought calling them gift cards was kind of ironic. As if she was doing him a favor– actually giving him a gift. She was going to empty all of their accounts this afternoon, so he wouldn’t have any other resources except the Walmart gift cards and whatever he could start putting together on his own. If she left the cash instead of the gift cards he would spend it on a gambling weekend or buying drinks for his cronies at the local pub. This way he’d have to restrict his vices to what Walmart had to offer. She would enjoy thinking about that at the hotel tonight. And on the plane tomorrow. Then she wouldn’t think of him ever again.

Yes, she’d buy gift cards and leave them with the note on the bureau. She hadn’t written the note yet, but it would say something like “This is to inform you that I’m done here. You can do the rest by yourself.”

This is my entry in the Trifecta Writing Challenge using the third definition of the word new.


Made with real cheese that gives a melt-in-your-mouth flavor you can’t resist.


About paulajwray

I am a writer and I live in the Rocky Mountains of southwest Colorado with my husband and a balding black cat. I write humor, flash fiction, creative non-fiction, inspirational essays, and poetry. When I'm not writing, making lists, or forcing a family member to listen to something I've written, I'm reading, gardening, or laughing with my friends. I also, occasionally, sit and stare.
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19 Responses to The Perfect Gift

  1. Debbie says:

    Oh – wow. I MUST have the rest of this story. I mean it. I want to know how it turns out.
    PLEASE. Best thing I’ve read this summer. (Good thing I know it’s not autobiographical.)

    • Paula J says:

      Ha ha. Was originally written as a result of a prompt in one of those books I have with ideas to get you writing. “Take something you saw this week and write a story around it.” I was standing in line at Walmart behind a lady who was having a fistful of gift cards validated. As far as the rest of the story, well, maybe I’ll leave that up to you. I never seem to have the ending. And the best you’ve read this summer? — I won’t get the big head as summer has barely even started here and not “officially” according to the calendar. But thanks. I kind of like the tone of this piece and the intrigue of what will happen next. To both of them.

      Any thoughts on coming out? Would love to have you. Say hi to L.

      Sent from my iPad

  2. Yes, you need to write the rest of the story. Wonderful story idea, a woman who leaves behind a pile of gift cards.

  3. Paula J says:

    Always seem to have trouble with the “rest” of the story. Vignettes seem to be my forte.

  4. Lucy says:

    I’m with the others. And I believe you CAN write the rest of the story. Actually i know you can. What if you did it in weekly installments? I must know what happens next. Such an intriguing little story.

    • Paula J says:

      As soon as I find out what happens, I’ll let everyone know. Thanks for the encouragement and the suggestion about installments. That bears thinking about.

  5. Annabelle says:

    I’m not sure if I should like her or not, but I’d definitely like to hear more! She sounds determined.

    • Paula J says:

      I sort of like her matter of fact attitude about the whole thing. I am going to definitely file this one under “see what happens next”. Thanks for the comment.

  6. jannatwrites says:

    Interesting character. She’s fed up enough to leave him, but thoughtful enough to get him gift cards so he can buy food (or drinks :)). I’m afraid if I got pushed tot he point of leaving, I wouldn’t be so kind or thoughtful. I suppose it’s good I’m sticking around!

  7. Lynda Busbee says:

    Great characters and concept. I know you can do it! I sure would like to be there with you–hopefully soon. Keep up the good work.

  8. Paula J says:

    Thanks Janna T. Me either. I don’t think she was being kind or thoughtful either. Not in a “let me make sure you’re alright” sort of way. It was more of a personality issue for her. Kind of like not being able to leave the house with the bed unmade. Kind of compulsive? Yeah, maybe. Also, I think the idea of her providing gift cards from Walmart, of all things, was a subliminally demeaning gesture toward him.

    Thanks for the comment. It got me thinking about her motivations and helped me to know her better. At least in a “put it into words–character sketch” sort of way.

  9. Christine says:

    I actually like this piece as it is. It’s self-contained and complete, in my view. Not that I’d object to hearing more, of course, but it doesn’t feel unfinished at all.

    You know, when my parents split up, my mother went out and bought a new set of dishes, flatware and pots to leave for my father. She was afraid he wouldn’t have the sense to buy his own plates. It’s funny, the little details people focus on when their worlds are turning upside down.

    • Paula J says:

      Thank you. I feel fine with the piece the way it is, too. Kind of lets the reader’s imagination take the next step if he wants to. Of course, if I find out more, I’ll probably write it.

      I know that what she did doesn’t make a lot of logical sense, but doesn’t that prove that she’s just human, after all? Anyway, it’s what showed up in my imagination, and so I wrote it down.

  10. R.L.W. says:

    Very funny! Good job!

  11. trifectawriting says:

    This is great. I love the idea of a woman who is completely dedicated to leaving, but still caters to her personality traits that demand she take care of him even when she’s gone. I liked how you said she hadn’t written the note yet. An extra detail that makes it even more realistic. Nice job.

  12. It’s so realistic that she wants to take care of this man who has clearly hurt her, not necessarily abused, but neglected her to laziness and a possible gambling addiction. But it’s also empowering that she realizes she can’t be responsible for him, that her presence is, in fact, enabling to him and toxic to her. That businesslike letter she has in her mind shows the degree to which their relationship has eroded. She has become his minder, when it sounds like she should have been his wife.

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