I risked putting my hand over my brother’s.
Tim let it rest there briefly. Then with his other hand he pulled open the drawer of the kitchen table, and retrieved two packages tied with coils of old ribbon.
I said, My birthday. It went right out of my mind.
My brother loved me. A tear dropped onto my skirt now.
Tim reached past me for the pencil and notebook. He wrote, Only 30!
I whooped with laughter and wiped my eyes. It’s not that, truly.
Instead of trying to explain, I unwrapped the first box. Four Belgian truffles.
Tim! Have you been hoarding these since the war broke out?
The second package was quite round; under its skins of tissue paper I found a fat shiny orange. All the way from Spain?
Tim shook his head.
I played the guessing game. Italy?
A satisfied nod.
I put the fruit to my nose and drew in the citrus tang. I thought of its arduous journey through the Mediterranean, past Gibraltar and up the North Atlantic to Ireland. Or overland through France—was that even possible anymore? I just hoped nobody had been killed, shipping this precious freight.
I tucked the orange and chocolates into my bag for a birthday lunch while Tim packed up his gardening tools to take to the allotment. In the lane, the slice of dark sky was streaked with pink. He got his motorcycle started on the third try. I’d bought it for him at a widow’s auction of an officer’s goods, though I’d never told him so in case the thought of riding a dead man’s machine bothered him.