28. How David and Lily Got Together

28. How David and Lily Got Together

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Happily Ever After

How David and Lily Got Together

When the world says, “Give up,”
Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.”

~Author Unknown

This is the story of how David and Lily got together, or at least, what they always told us. We didn’t learn the truth till many years later.

Some years ago, a good family moved into the third-floor apartment of the tenement where we lived in the Bronx. David was the son, and he was going to medical school. He was also an avid reader, so he spent most of his free time in the library.

The librarian there was a pretty, soft-spoken young woman named Lily. We kids all loved her. If we couldn’t find a book, she would stop whatever she was doing, smile at us warmly and launch a search to find it for us. She was a hard worker.

She also secretly admired our new neighbor, David. Whenever he entered the small neighborhood library, Lily’s eyes lit up and observed his wandering path through the stacks of books. She never struck up a conversation with him, though. She was much too shy, and in those days, a woman didn’t talk to a stranger without a formal introduction.

One evening, as Lily was closing up the library, her assistant bent down near the desk to retrieve an unopened envelope from the floor. She showed it to Lily, and they noted that it was sent from a major city hospital.

“It looks so important,” the assistant said. “Some poor person is probably looking for it frantically. It must have fallen out of his pocket or book.”

Lily glanced at the address of the recipient and was surprised to see it was for the building right next to hers. She took the letter so she could drop it by the man’s apartment on her way home.

She turned out the lights, locked up the library and hurried home, where she quickly set down her bags. Clutching the envelope, she ran across the way, entered the front lobby next door and scanned the mailboxes. She found a “Gordon,” the same last name listed on the envelope, and rang the bell for that apartment.

“Who’s there?” called out a woman’s voice over the scratchy intercom.

“I’m the librarian,” Lily answered. “We found a letter on the library floor addressed to a David Gordon. Does that name mean anything to you? The letter looks important.”

After a pause, the voice replied: “Yes. Could you bring it up for me, Apartment B3? I fell a few weeks ago and can’t walk the stairs.”

Lily walked up the three flights of stairs and was greeted at the door by a sweet, older woman who was leaning on a crutch.

“Oh, thank you so much,” she said. “As you see, I really can’t walk the stairs.”

Lily smiled. “I understand. Well, here’s the letter. Is David Gordon your husband?”

“Oh, no,” she answered. “That’s my son. We were wondering where that letter went.” She looked Lily up and down. “You say you found the letter at the library?”

“Yes,” said Lily. “I’m the librarian there, but I live in the building next to you, so it was no trouble to bring you the letter.”

“Well, look at us standing here like strangers,” the woman said, smiling brightly. “Come and sit for a moment and have some tea. Please.”

As she motioned Lily to a chair, the lady talked about the letter. “When I get mail for my son, I always put it on the kitchen table so he can find it when he comes home. This letter was important, so I stuck it in his book. You see, he is going to medical school to be a specialist,” she said proudly.

Just then, the door opened, and in walked her son, David. Upon seeing that he was the young man she had admired so long, Lily felt her heart beat faster. His mother excitedly explained to him what had happened to the letter.

David looked at Lily in astonishment. “Gosh! You’re from the library. Thank you! I was looking high and low for that letter.” He turned to his mother. “You see, I was accepted to the hospital’s medical program.”

Then he turned back to Lily and smiled shyly. “Thanks again, Miss, errrr, I didn’t get your name.”

“Lily,” she said, smiling her warmest smile. Her heart was still pounding, and she felt sure her cheeks were flushed.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Gordon was hobbling around, setting the table for tea and cookies. “Sit! Sit!” she urged the young couple.

“Have you decided which branch of medicine you want to specialize in?” Lily asked David.

“Cardiology,” David answered, still smiling. “And this is the letter that will start me on my career. I was really worried when I hadn’t heard from the hospital. I was considering going out west someplace, but I’d much rather stay at this hospital, here in the city.”

And then, out of the blue, David blurted: “Would you care to go to a movie with me Saturday night?”

Before Lily could catch her breath, Mrs. Gordon grabbed her hand and said, “Oh, yes, Lily! Please say yes!”

Lily laughed. “I’d love to!”

And so began Lily and David’s life together.

But now for the whole story. After they’d been married twenty-five years, he told us the truth about the letter. David was a cardiovascular specialist by then, and his dear Lily, the mother of their three children, was sitting by his side as he told us.

You see, David wasn’t that avid a reader, as it turns out. He just wanted to see that pretty young librarian. He told his mother about the girl at his local library, but he was shy and didn’t know how to approach her. His mother devised a scheme. Every time David went to the library, he was to drop an envelope addressed to himself on the floor. David’s mother hoped Lily would retrieve it for him, call him over to the desk and give him a chance to strike up a conversation. So David dutifully dropped a letter each time he visited the library, but each time, someone would see the envelope fluttering to the floor and rush to reclaim it for him. “Oh, sir!” he’d hear someone cry out, but when he turned, it was never Lily.

On the day he finally met Lily, David waited till no one was left in the building but Lily and her assistant. Once again, he dropped his letter by the desk. The next day, he hoped, he could come back and ask Lily if she had found an envelope with his name on it. The plan worked far better than he imagined when Lily showed up in person to deliver the letter.

While David was telling this story, his beautiful wife Lily began laughing hysterically.

“David,” she said, when she caught her breath. “You didn’t seal that envelope very well. We opened it at the library. I saw that there was nothing but a blank piece of paper inside. I was dying to figure out what you were up to, so I played along. David, you were a terrible actor!” She turned her twinkling eyes to her husband’s.

“But, oh, David! I loved you so!”

And that is how David and Lily really got together.


~Arnold Fine
Chicken Soup for the Single’s Soul

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