She thought he was a decent enough man until she tried to break up with him. They were sitting at the back of a restaurant drinking decaffeinated coffee; she was gesturing with her hands and saying that this thing, their relationship, wasn't going anywhere and that he knew it. His hands lay flat in his lap as he listened to her, and his blue eyes never moved in his bland pudgy face. When he didn't respond to what she had said, she stood up. He reached out for her arm, missed it, and knocked over his water glass. It was nearly empty, and only the ice cubes spilled out on the tablecloth, sliding in her direction. She looked at him, paid for her half of the bill, and walked out to her Toyota. She was turning the key in the ignition when, hearing something, she looked to her left at the window and saw his hand pressed flat against it. Then the fingernails began scrabbling against the glass. She had already pressed down the lock. She heard his voice coming in gasping explosive waves from behind his hand. Only three of his words were audible: " . . . can't . . . do . . . this." She shifted the Toyota into first gear, released the clutch, and drove out of the parking lot, seeing him, slouched and coiled, receding in the rearview mirror.
When she arrived home the following day, she found inside the building, at the door of her apartment, a dozen long-stemmed red roses wrapped in bright-green florist tissue paper. She opened the note.
Please excuse my rage. You ARE these roses. They ARE you, but the red IS the red of MY heart. Try to think again of me. Try to bleed as I am bleeding.
After considering the matter, she called the apartment manager and asked for a new Segal lock on the door. He grumbled but said he'd get it done eventually, only it'd be quicker if she did it. In the yellow pages she found a listing for Thomas Grobowski, an all-night locksmith, who arrived within the hour and was finished by nine-thirty. He was a bald, middle-aged man who hummed Chopin while he made measurements and tested screws. He said, "Break up with someone?" Then, after he scanned her face, he said, "I get so many jobs like this, this time of night, from nice people. People just like you." He shook his head and whistled.
On her desk at the office the next morning were two embossed boxes of chocolates, sent by Candygram. The first box contained one pound of chocolate-covered cherries, and the second box, weighing two pounds, was an assortment: marshmallow creams, chocolate-covered solid caramel, semisweet layered chocolate, pieces with nougat or jellied fruit inside and chocolate-covered cashews and peanuts. Once again there was a note on green stationery tucked inside a tiny envelope. She didn't read it. During her coffee break she walked down the carpeted fluorescent corridor with both boxes held in front of her, gave one to a secretary she knew with three children and left the two-pound box with the typing pool.