It’s been ages since I’ve posted anything on this blog. Actually, I had given up hope that I’d come back to it at all. Life just got crazy, and then there was the whole neck, shoulder, and arm pain thing that plagued me for over a year. Oh yeah, and my computer decided to give up the ghost. But against all odds, I’ve come up with a little ditty of a story, and I posted it spurred by the naive hope that there are still readers out there who still dig my little stories, or that maybe I’ll meet some new ones. I say ‘against all odds’, because up until a few hours ago, I wasn’t even sure I’d write again. Why? I just couldn’t find the drive, the ideas, or the energy to focus. But, somehow, I caught hold of a feeling and decided to run with it. And so, here is my diamond in the rough…
The bouquet rests in my hands. Its disgustingly beautiful, a brilliant mass of lilies and roses interspersed with feathery greenery. Even then, while holding my heart in my hands, the smell is intoxicating. I can barely think.
I remember now why I hate flowers. Sickeningly sweet, their aroma makes your head swim, and yet, like a drug, their beauty still manages to arouse your heart. And just when you fall in love with their colours and complexity, they die.
“Why’d you bring me flowers, of all things?”
Ben leans against a pillar, watching the buses come in and out of the station. They run on time, each one faithfully carrying its passengers away to parts unknown. The riders look happy; expectation lights up their faces. Men, women, children, singles, and families, clutching satchels and suitcases; backpacks stuffed with snacks for inter-city rides. The constant rumble of voices and the squeals of excited children hover over the platform. They should be holding these flowers, not me.
“I dunno. I thought you liked flowers. Tonight’s a happy occasion, right?”
We shouldn’t be arguing, not now.
How much time do we have left?
The station’s giant clock looms behind him, but his silhouette obscures its face. I shuffle through my purse for my phone, but he takes my hands in his and sits on the bench beside me.
“You look like we’re at a funeral. We talked about this. You said you were thrilled.”
I look at the bouquet resting in space between us. He was right. We had talked about it, but at the time the news was fresh and we were riding high on excitement and the possibility of what could be. But now…
The doors of a nearby bus snap shut. With a roar, it pulls away from the station, the red tail lights flashing as it pauses at the intersection before leaving the lot. Then it drives away into the night. Another bus pulls into its freshly vacated spot.
“I didn’t pick this internship, you know,” Ben says. “They chose me.”
“I know. It’s a great opportunity. You’d be crazy to pass on it.”
He tips my chin upwards so I could look into his eyes. Chocolate brown and earnest, it’s impossible to look away. “It’ll be fine. I’ll get settled in, and once things are in order, you’ll join me just like we talked about.”
The second bus finishes loading. Once the last passenger is seated, the door shuts with a snap and the bus drives away, it too, fading into the night.
For Ben’s sake, I decide to be brave. He was doing this for us, after all. “I’ll be fine, don’t worry about me. It’s just…so far.”
He pulls me in close for a hug. “Good thing I’ve got all those books on bio-engineering to keep me busy.”
His bus finally pulls up. Ben stands and throws his backpack over a shoulder. “It’s a big change for us, but it’ll be good. Trust me.”
He kisses me goodbye and boards the bus after storing his luggage. In a moment, he’ll leave for a new city, a new home. A new life. And until we met again, I will live on memories that would, over time, wither like a fistful of flowers.
I lean on the pillar as he had done, watching his bus pause at the intersection as if for one last look back. Then the engine revs and it drives into the night, red taillights glowering.
Once Ben’s news had sunk in and the whole picture had become clear to me, I’d told him over breakfast one day that nothing lasts forever, not even love.
“The sun comes up every day, doesn’t it?” he answered. “And even if we don’t always see it, the moon moves along its cycle today just as it’s done since the beginning. Some things might not last, but other things, the important things, do.”
I’d stopped arguing with him after that. He believed it, and that had been enough.
I press the flowers to my chest. They were beautiful. And he’d given them to me. Whether as a parting gift or a promise, I didn’t know. But tonight, before laying down for bed, I would dry one or two in a book. Just in case.
Dyane Forde July 2017