John Blanchard was a soldier.
One day, in a library, he found an old book with a lot of writing in the margins. He read her handwritten notes in the book and admired their deep insights. At the front cover, he saw that the book was previously owned by a certain Hollis Maynell.
With much effort, he located her address. He wrote to her and told her about her old book and how he liked her written notes.
And she responded, thanking him for his kind words.
But that day, he was shipped overseas to fight in a war.
Still, they kept writing to each other. During the difficult times at the battlefield, her words inspired him and gave him hope.
Little by little, John was falling in love with her.
He requested for a photo, but she replied that if he really cared for her, it won’t matter how she looked.
Finally, he was going home.
They decided to meet at the Grand Central Station at 7pm.
He said he’d be in his soldier’s uniform bringing her old book.
And she said, “You’ll know me by the red rose I’ll wear on my lapel.”
When the train arrived at 7pm, John was there, wearing his neatly pressed military uniform, with her old book in his hand.
The first woman to step off the train was a beautiful woman in a green suit. But there was no red rose on her blouse.
John was disappointed. But she was so lovely, he kept looking at her. She walked in front of him, glanced at him with a smile, and asked, “Are you following me, soldier?”
A part of him wanted to follow.
But no, he had to wait for Hollis Maynell.
The next woman who stepped off the train had a red rose on her lapel. She was perhaps 45 years old. She had graying hair beneath her hat. And she was very overweight. Meantime, the beautiful woman in the green suit was walking away.
John was torn.
Yet he looked again at the woman who was wearing the red rose. He remembered her letters and what a fascinating a person she was. He remembered how wonderful her words made him feel. He told himself, “This may not be love. But this may be more than love. This will be a beautiful friendship with a lovely person.”
He walked up to her, straightened himself, handed the book to her and said, “My name is Lieutenant John Blanchard. You must be Ms. Hollis Maynell. I’m so glad you could meet me. May I have dinner with you tonight?”
The woman smiled. “I don’t know what this is about, son,” she answered, “but the young lady in the green suit asked me to wear this red rose on my coat. She also said that if you asked me out for dinner, she said she’d be waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of test!”