One Reply to “6.11.2015 Journal Prompt”

  1. He tore up the vegetables – the carrots and leeks, potatoes and peas – and planted flowers instead. First time he’d done that. Great banks of colour he planted that the neighbours remarked on, nodding and smiling at the change it brought to the street, saying how the very air was sweeter and softer, and they stopped to spend time admiring his work.

    ‘He’s like an artist. Like Monet or Van Gogh,’ said Frank May, which was only in part perceptive, because Monet and Van Gogh were the only two artists any of them could name that had anything to do with flowers.

    ‘It’s like a little piece of heaven has come down to earth,’ said Mrs Karen Cotterill and she said how his garden was a blessing and it was proof again that old Pike had green fingers. And Mrs Cotterill – ‘Karen, please, Mr Pike,’ – said that his green fingers was a gift and she took his hand in hers, took it gently, and she stroked his palm like it was a small pet – a mouse or a bird – and that was maybe a blessing, too.

    Old Pike moved Lillian’s bed next to the window so she could see what he had done. Hadn’t she said for years how he should plant flowers, bellflowers and delphinium spikes and foxglove spears, hollyhocks and columbine.

    ‘See?’ he said, presenting his work to her.

    And Noah Pike remembered how at the start he had dressed in his dad’s suit and turned up at Lillian’s door with a fistful of ox-eye daisies and candy-coloured clusters of phlox and violets dripping from his fingers, and baby’s breath, and roses in pinks and whites. And Lillian had said yes even before he had got the question out.

    ‘See?’ he said again, but Lillian could not see by this time, not so far as the garden. So he cut some flowers and he put them in jugs and vases and jam-jars all about her room. And he changed them regularly so they were always fresh, and it was like the garden had come to her.

    And with the window open and the flowers in jars wherever she turned, she could smell the air sweetened and heavy, and Lillian came upon the same memory that Noah Pike had in his head. She recalled the knock on the door, how it was light and dancing, and when she opened it there was Noah looking as smart as smart ever was back then, dressed in his father’s suit, which he did not yet fill, and flowers in his hands, like it was a trick he’d pulled out of his sleeve, and his face all soft and pleading. And she said yes, even before he spoke the words.

    ‘See?’ he said, over and over, till one day, the last day, she could see nothing and hear nothing for she was breathless and still.

    She’s laid under the ground up at the church and her grave is marked by flowers all arranged fresh in glass jars and jugs and vases – so many that you can’t hardly see the stone with her name on it. And it’s a long haul to the churchyard these days, so old Noah Pike stops in the street, rests his wheelbarrow and his feet, and sits on the pavement, with his head down like he’s praying.

    And Mrs Karen Cotterill – ‘Karen, please, Mr Pike,’ – looks at him from behind her net curtains and she sees the man shrunk a little, bent and buckled, and greyer these days. And something in her hurts, like the bite of a small mouse or the nip of a bird, and she holds her hand to the space neath her breast and she sighs.

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