Rose woke up. She pushed herself into a sitting position, ran her fingers through her messy hair, and glanced at her phone. Three messages awaited her, surely all to wish her a happy birthday. She'd listen to them and call back later. After making sure they were all just from ordinary friends and family, she got up and shuffled into the sitting room in her bare feet, looking at the morning with sleepy eyes.
"Good morning, birthday girl," Jackie Tyler told her daughter. "Isn't it nice to have you home on a special occasion." For once. Rose was never home.
"Morning, Mum," Rose said.
Jackie smiled. "Here." She held out a neatly wrapped package. Rose took it and sat down in the chair. "Why don't you open that while I make breakfast?"
Rose tore open the wrapping as Jackie hurried off to the kitchen. There was a box inside. She took the lid off and pulled out a £ pound note, followed by a blouse and a pair of jeans, the same outfit she'd wanted and hadn't gotten for Christmas "Thank you, Mum!" she cried as she ran into the kitchen and threw her arms around Jackie. Then, grinning, she dashed into her room to get dressed.
She came back in her new clothes just as Jackie came out with breakfast. They sat down, and Rose opened her gifts as she ate.
When they had finished breakfast and only one present remained, she heard the sound of someone running down the hall. She began unwrapping the present. The footsteps stopped in front of the door, and she paused. Then, they ran off.
She set down the gift slowly and stood. When she opened the door, there was no one in sight, but there was something on the doorstep: a package wrapped sloppily in brown paper.
"If that's a present, they could've wrapped it a bit better," she murmured, and picked it up. She carried it into the living room.
"Who's that from?" asked Jackie.
"I don't know." Rose pulled off the wrapping and a bunch of roses fell onto the table.
"Looks like you've got a secret admirer," Jackie commented.
"Looks like my admirer's not so secret," said Rose, pulling out a note. Before she opened it, she counted the roses. There were ten of them. She smiled slightly and knew, without reading the card, who had sent them. She unfolded the note.
Because beauty isn't just skin deep, and because I love you not for being beautiful, but for being my Rose. Happy birthday.
She untied the string from the roses, so they were no longer in a bunch. Holding it up, she grinned. Tied on the loop of string was a very ordinary-looking, but not so ordinary at all, key.