Home > Very Sincerely Yours

Very Sincerely Yours
Author: Kerry Winfrey




The night Teddy Phillips got dumped, she had expected to get engaged.

   It’s not that Richard had been too obvious, but there were signs. He was more distracted than usual, looked more nervous when she talked to him. Richard was usually confident, perhaps to a fault, so she found this charming. As if she’d say no! As if she’d say anything other than “Yes, I want to marry you and be with you until death do us part!” after which Richard would pick her up and spin her around.

   Richard had asked her that morning if they could talk that night, so she decided to set the mood by making one of his favorite meals: spaghetti and meatballs. Some people might have called Richard a picky eater, but Teddy preferred to think of him as a selective eater. Really, why go through all the work of trying out new meals when you knew the five or so things you liked best?

   Was she disappointed when she came home from her shift at work to discover that the apartment looked the same as it always had? A bit. But after six years together, she knew not to expect rose petals on the floor or Richard waiting for her by candlelight, down on one knee, asking her to make him the happiest man in the world. Richard wasn’t showy about their relationship, and that was one of the things she liked about him.

   But Teddy knew she could create a mood; after all, that was what she did in their relationship. Richard worked long hours as a doctor, and he didn’t have time to do things like “decorate the apartment” or “buy coordinating throw pillows” or “prepare his own meals.” That was what Teddy did.

   A lot of people didn’t realize, she thought to herself as she simmered the pork-and-beef meatballs in her special homemade tomato sauce, that being in the background was sometimes just as important as being in the spotlight. Sure, in their relationship, Richard was the one who stood out, the one who had the important job. But being in the shadows wasn’t so bad. Someone had to make the shadows cozy; even shadows could use a diffuser or a comfy knit blanket.

   And their town house was nothing if not cozy. Teddy was especially proud of the fall tableau she’d created on the mantelpiece of their gas fireplace as soon as she flipped the calendar to September. Pumpkins and a felt leaf garland were involved because, in her opinion, a house wasn’t a home unless it was filled with miniature pumpkins in the fall.

   Teddy dumped the pasta into the boiling water and set the timer. Humming to herself, she lit candles on the table, then took out her phone to choose some music. This was the first time she’d considered the question: “What music would I like to get engaged to?” She bit her lip, scrolling, and then found a playlist called “Best Music to Play During a Proposal.” “Unchained Melody,” “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” . . . Yes, this was perfect.

   As the Righteous Brothers started playing, Richard walked through the door with a jingle of keys. Teddy spun around quickly and smiled.

   “Um,” Richard said, looking around in confusion.

   Okay, so this wasn’t exactly the reaction Teddy wanted. No matter.

   “Hi, you,” she said as the timer went off. She grabbed her strainer and carried the pot to the sink. “Just thought I’d make things special for tonight!”

   Richard still hadn’t moved from the doorway. After Teddy strained the pasta, she crossed the room and closed the door behind him. “How was work today?” she asked.

   He blinked. “It was fine. This is just surprising.” He sniffed. “Did you make . . . ?”

   “Spaghetti!” Teddy said with a smile. “Your favorite!”

   Richard frowned at her light gray cardigan. “Don’t forget to soak that.”

   She looked down and saw a splatter of tomato sauce. Richard had once told her that bright colors made her skin look sallow, so now she mostly wore neutrals, and this J.Crew cardigan was one of her favorites. “Oh, shoot,” Teddy muttered, then looked back at Richard and smiled. “Anyway, it’s almost ready. Want to sit down?”

   Richard nodded as Elvis’s voice filled the room. “Uh, yeah. Let me go get changed.”

   A few minutes later, Teddy placed bowls of pasta, glasses of wine, and a loaf of homemade garlic bread on the table as Richard emerged from their room.

   He sat down without a word, so Teddy followed suit. He took a bite in silence, so she did the same. He’s probably worried, she told herself. Asking someone to marry you seemed like it might be a bit nerve-racking, although he must already know what her answer was.

   Richard speared a meatball with his fork, then cleared his throat. “Teddy, there’s something I need to say.”

   “Yes!” Teddy said brightly.

   Richard paused and looked from the meatball to her. “What?”

   It finally registered that he hadn’t actually asked her anything, let alone proposed. “Sorry,” Teddy said. “I . . .”

   She sighed. She would have to make this easier for Richard; that was what she did, after all. She made things easier for a partner who worked so hard.

   “I know you’re nervous,” she said, reaching across the table to grab his hand. “I know this is a hard conversation for you.”

   Relief washed over Richard’s face. “You do?”

   Teddy nodded enthusiastically. “Of course! You think I haven’t noticed the way you’ve been distant? The way you’ve been working even more than usual?”

   Richard slumped over. “Wow. Have I been that obvious?”

   Teddy smiled. “Well, yeah, but it’s okay. Because I’m going to answer the question so you don’t have to ask it. Yes.”

   Richard’s eyebrows shot up so high that Teddy was afraid they were going to hit his hairline. “Yes?”

   She squeezed his hand again. Surely this was the moment he’d get out the ring. “A thousand times yes.”

   “Whew!” Richard let out a nervous laugh. “I can’t tell you how much better this makes me feel. I’ve been stressing out over this for weeks, wondering how you’d react—”

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