(Reposted from the old boards.)
The flowers were coming up nicely.
I had no idea what any of them were, anymore, but they had always been beautiful. Mom always took immaculate care of her flowers, just like her father had when he'd been healthier. Both of my parents had a green thumb, but Dad had been a vegetable person, with a few tomatoes on the side. Peas had been his specialty- and I hate peas. Tasteless little things that somehow snuck into my salads despite my best efforts to thwart them.
I wasn't entirely sure how the garden had kept doing so well, and within the past few days, the flowers I hadn't dug up had exploded in color. It wasn't even the blooming season. It was late September, and it looked like it would be an early winter this year. Cold winds were already starting to blow down from New England, bringing with them their promises of snow in a few weeks. Today was a prime example, and it would probably rain on us before everything was said and done.
I smiled, feeling her close to me. "You don't have to ask, Mom. I remembered to replant the red ones first, so their roots get the most space. They'll need it, come next spring."
There wasn't a response, and my smile faded.
"Listen... I wanted to tell you, before I go. I feel... responsible for what happened to Cynthia. I know I wasn't even in the area, but I promised to keep her safe, and I couldn't. I don't know what I would have done, but... I know how close you two had grown during the past few months."
I paused, looking away and composing myself. Twenty-six years of a close relationship with her, and I still felt like I shouldn't cry in front of my mother, even though I wanted to.
"I know, I know. I should have told her. I just didn't know how to broach the subject, y'know? You grow up with someone for years, and when it occurs to you that you're in love with them, and... it all happens so fast. I should have told her sooner, I know." I had to laugh a little. "Best few weeks of my life, though. No regrets."
I could feel my mother smiling at me, but in a pitiful way, as if she was going to tell me that I should have told her I'd loved her years before. I knew I should have, but I just... I couldn't. Not at first, not even for the first few years. I had been so afraid that telling her would push her away from me, and I'd needed her as my best friend more than I'd needed her as my lover. Didn't matter now, though.
"Dan," a voice said from behind me, "We have to go. Stay ahead of the storm."
I nodded without looking behind me, and I heard footsteps walking off through the dirt. They seemed detached, a mile away, though I knew they were only going around the house.
"I know you know," I said, "I know I never had to say it. You never had to say it, either. I always knew. But I want you to know I love you both. You both gave everthing you ever had to me, and I wish I could have paid you back, somehow. You two were a confirmation to me... a reminder that good people can exist in a bad world."
I reached down, and placed a small bouquet of hibiscus on one of the piles of uptured earth. On the other, I placed a pile of snow peas and a salad tong. There were no headstones- neither mom or dad had been religious. Besides, I was the only one who gave a damn about this place anymore, and I wouldn't be coming back. Let the past rest, I figured, even if the land would not.
"Dan!" a call came again, and I snapped back to reality. I got up, and without saying anything more, stood and walked briskly around the ruins of what had been my house a few weeks before. I was choked up, especially when I passed by the burnt remains of the tree that had been in the front yard- my parents had planted that tree when I'd been born, and it had grown tall as I had. It, and what was left of the driveway, were the only signs that a house had ever stood here. I was choked up, but if it was obvious, the others had the courtesy not to say anything. We just picked up our gear and left.
My mother always loved hibiscus flowers.
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