From its roof, a large chandelier swung gracefully with the breeze as the sun threw tiny rainbows from its teardrop crystals.  Vibrant rose bushes encompassed the structure, while Wisteria crept up the columns and draped itself through the crevices under the roof.  The gazebo was just a passage to the rest of the garden.  The sight alone arrested the senses.  Thousands of flowers and plants, most of which I didn’t know what to call, but I recognized the basics; Hollyhock, Lavender, Elephants ear and Peony. A light breeze blew past me filling the air with the gardens heady scent, bringing with it a strange nostalgia.  An icy shiver signaled that it was time to go inside for my hoodie.

I tried to grow flowers once, but the intense heat and more likely my black thumb, turned beautiful ceramic pots into cemeteries for them all.  My dad felt guilty for refusing me a puppy, ditched the garden gone compost project, and negotiated for a Chia Pet instead.  The thing grew wildly and blew my mind that I managed to keep it alive for so long.  At one point, I actually tried to kill it just to see if I could; Chia pig lives on.

Dinner was silent once again.  I was beginning to dread a possible tradition in the making.  At least it wasn’t tense, but then again, there was no Alex.  It surprised me how much his absence bothered me, yet I was relieved that I could enjoy a meal without the stress induced indigestion.  While I picked through the asparagus on my plate, I couldn’t get out of my mind the incredulous and haunted look Alex had in his eyes when he first saw me; before the anger set in.  He was surprised by my presence-enraged by it, like he had somehow been betrayed.

Before calling it a night, Evie came to the guest room and sat at the foot of my bed.  Her head dropped low as if confessing some great sin.  “He wasn’t expecting you,” she started, “Alex wasn’t.”

I dog-eared the page I was on and set the book beside me-she had my fullest attention.

 

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