The flowers arrive just before noon. Eight red roses, surrounded by a
dozen white, garnished with fern leaves and baby's breath. Your hands shake
when you tip the driver. So much so, in fact, that you nearly drop the vase
carrying it to the dining table. As pregnancy progresses and you reach your
third trimester, you become more and more inefficient and clumsy. But this
time, it is more than loosening joints and an altered center of balance.
The roses dominate the room, vibrant and beautiful at the height of
their symbolic glory. The accompanying card sits on top of the table,
unopened. You can't bring yourself to read it, afraid that it will contain
some cleverly worded note in his handwriting. Afraid that it won't. Could
it be a joke? You want so badly to know what is inside. Is this to be
Mulder's last message, delivered from the grave?
You have struggled to face the reality, but the reality is, there is no
closure, as others have experienced when their missing had been returned
and claimed. You didn't want to believe that he might not survive. You
still don't. It wasn't supposed to end this way.
When the phone rings at last, it is both a dreaded and a welcomed
interruption. Agent Doggett, against his own wishes, confirms what you need
to know. The flowers were charged to Agent Mulder's personal credit card,
the order placed nine months in advance, with the same florist he used to
send flowers to his mother's grave in Raleigh.
Everything is colorless. White. The ground is covered in old, packed
snow. Recent rain has left a slippery crust of ice over the top, which
slows your progress as you make your way to the space, roses in hand and
the card tucked away safely in your coat pocket. You still can't believe it
as you stare at the name on the headstone, shiny and new. Your partner.
Your friend. Your...
The roses stand out in extreme opposition to the smooth marble, their
deep red and white blossoms a stark contrast to the cold stone marker.
Tears pool and spill from the corners of your eyes before you can swipe
them away with the back of a gloved finger. The baby chooses this time to
move, struggling within you, against the too-tight quarters.
He will never know his father.
Plucking a single red rose from the vase, you brush the blossoming
flower against your cheek. Remembering when he touched you there. The
velvet petals are soft against your lips, and you know that for a brief
time, the briefest of time, he was yours, and you were his. You slip your
hand into your coat pocket, fingering the card's straight edge, assured
that it remains in place. This may be his last message, but it is not his
last contribution. Part you, part him, it is the greatest, most precious
gift of all. You lay your hand over your swollen abdomen, trying to connect
with the life inside. Your baby. His legacy.
"Happy Valentine's Day, Mulder," you whisper softly. You
pause, as if he might whisper it back, or maybe send it whistling down the
wind, but there is nothing but silence. Slowly, you and your rose make your
way back through the frozen, dormant whiteness. Back to the world that