Well, ladies and gents, it’s time for part three of my fantastical short story, Flowers. Are you excited? No? Well … I am. *pouts* I can’t believe you don’t like my book …
Oh, you were just teasing? *wipes brow* Whew. I was worried for a minute that you all secretly hating me and were pity-following me.
Have you ever pity-followed someone? I haven’t. I follow the people whose posts I want to read. What kind of sick human being are you!?
Okay, back on subject. You can read Parts 1 and 2 here. If you haven’t, head over and do so!
Before we return to all the amazingness of Flowers, I’d like to encourage you to sign up for the blog tour of The New Diary by Hanna Kraft. I’m hosting it on Reveries Reviews, and it’d be great to have a more bloggers participate. It will run from February 1st (Wednesday) to February 4th (Saturday). Please sign up if you’re able.
Now, let’s read!
“I am so bored,” Adele told Judy as they sat on the kitchen table and counter respectively. Camilla slept in her basket on the floor, making soft cooing sounds every once and a while.
“We could go outside,” Judy suggested.
Adele shook her head. “Nothing to do outside. Besides, it’s raining.”
“Well,” Judy said slowly, “We can’t leave the kitchen because it smells so bad in there with all the chemicals Granny and Aunt Lola are using. So perhaps we’d better find something to do outside. I have galoshes. So do you, I think. We could put Camilla somewhere under an umbrella.”
Adele laughed. “Judy, Camilla is a baby, not a doll. She’s not Marilou; she’s a human being. We can’t just put her down anywhere. She has to have special care.”
“All right. You’ll have to carry here, then, until we find a special place,” Judy decided. “I can’t carry her; she’s too heavy.”
“She is a fat little baby,” Adele agreed, glancing fondly at her youngest.
After Adele and Judy got into their rain clothes, they stood together looking down at Camilla.
“How are we going to carry her?” Judy asked, breaking the silence.
Adele shrugged. “Don’t know.”
“You could put her in sling like a papoose.”
“A papoose?” Adele asked incredulously.
“An Indian baby.”
“I know what a papoose is. I just don’t know why you do,” Adele explained. “Is Troy telling you more wild tales?”
“Yes,” Judy said quietly, tears filling her eyes at the mention of her beloved father.
Adele didn’t want any drama on her hands, so she quickly moved on. “Well, let’s see. I suppose we could fashion a sort of a sling.”
“And you could carry her on your back,” said Judy, her face brightening.
“Mm … yes.” But Adele sighed. She was asked more of every day, it seemed. Her shoulders felt tight and her head ached as it was, and for no particular reason. Everyone expected so much of her now. Why did they think that just because she had done one unselfish thing, a lot of other similar actions would follow? But how could she disappoint them now? Especially Troy. He might leave her, and she couldn’t let that happen. She just couldn’t. Why, she hadn’t even told him -!
Not now. She’d think about it later.
Adele bent over and scooped Camilla up in her arms. The baby opened her eyes and looked up at her mother without a sound. Adele caught her breath.
“Hello, Camilla,” she whispered.
Judy climbed up on the chair and leaned against Adele, peering down at the baby. “Isn’t she pretty?”
“I guess,” Adele said, shrugging her shoulders. “Look, the rain’s stopped. Let’s go now.”
Judy nodded and went to open the door. They stepped out together and surveyed the yard. Troy had cleared out a large patch of weeds leaving only brown dirt in their place, but the rest of the garden was badly unkept.
Adele winced. To her, there was no greater ugliness than the neat garden Troy had started with its rows and mounds of dirt, neatly groomed with little vegetable seedlings peeping up at regular intervals.
The rest of the garden, the tangle of wild, uncontrollable weeds, didn’t appeal to her any more than the rigid rows. Once, she might have stubbornly insisted she loved the choking foliage – to be different, to be special, to have an idea no one else had had before, like all her friends. They all had ideas, about what clothes you should wear, about how women should be treated, about how the government should be shunned and tradition thrown away and morals tossed to the wind, about how their elders should have no input on their lives. They were a generation full of ideas, and Adele was just glad to be a member.
But not anymore.
She was not one of them.
Now she saw the beauty – the true beauty – was destroyed by these noxious weeds; choked out before it reached the sunlight. Troy had his way of dealing with the invaders; Adele didn’t know what hers was yet. However, she was ready to discover it.
“We should clear out these weeds,” Judy said.
“Mm,” Adele replied, neither confirming or denying this statement. She adjusted Camilla in her arms and glanced up. The clouds were clearing away and the sun was starting to shine through. Adele sighed. “No,” she said. “Not now. It must be beautiful.”
“If the weeds are gone, it will be beautiful,” Judy suggested.
“No,” Adele murmured sadly, “The scars remain until you cover them. We should be able to cover the scars as soon as the ugly comes off.”
“I guess,” Judy said, face wrinkled in confusion. What scars?
“But where can I find some flowers in this world anymore?” Adele mumbled to herself. “Did Millie save the seedlings? Is she caring for them? I didn’t think they’d be this important, but they are. I’ll have to find out.” She turned and walked quickly back into the house.
Judy, used to her mother’s moods, sighed and followed.
In a moment, Camilla was stowed safely in her cradle – fussing, but unharmed – and Adele was on the telephone.
“So can you bring them?” she summed up after a long speech.
“You want me to just come out there, thirty miles, in the pouring rain with your seedlings?” Millie repeated, plainly shocked.
“Yes,” Adele replied, not even blinking.
“I will,” Millie said after a brief hesitation.
“Thank you, Millie. I appreciate it.”
Millie’s sigh indicated that she didn’t believe her, but Adele hung up the receiver without further ado and turned to her daughter.
“Millie should be here in an hour or so. We can start taking out the weeds now.”
“We?” Judy asked quizzically.
Adele smiled grimly. “Your father taught you well. But yes, ‘we.’ I can weed.”
Adele hesitated another moment, then kicked off her shoes and dropped to her knees. She began ripping out the weeds almost energetically. However, she soon stopped and turned to her daughter, irritation lining her face.
“Well, what are you just standing there for? Usually you’re a lot more diligent than I am!”
Judy knelt next to her mother, but continued gawking at her.
“Well, what’s wrong?”
“This is work,” Judy explained.
“You’ll get dirty.”
Adele laughed merrily. “Actually, Judy, I know all about dirt. I grew up in the country. Well, I spent my childhood in the country; I grew up in London. But that’s besides the point. Did you know that?”
Judy shook her head.
“Well, it’s true.”
“Did you like it?”
“Not much. I liked best to take trips to London with my father. My mother and brothers liked to call him ‘the Colonel,’ as if he had no other name, but he was always ‘Daddy’ to me. He was my idol.”
“When did you leave the country?” asked Judy, picking two weeds for Adele’s every one.
“When I was about twelve. Almost twice your age, but not quite. A few years after my father and brothers were lost.”
“In a war, and in a way that I’ll never be able to find them again. They say this one will be much worse than the first one, but there’s no one left for me to lose unless the ‘bad guys’ win and come into England.”
Judy dropped the weeds she was holding and sat up.
“So it should follow,” Adele continued, “That I should have a much pleasanter time, though the world may suffer more than it ever has before. But I won’t think about it. Not now.” She dug in extra hard with her trowel. “But if that madman tries to take over my country, then I won’t sit still. He’s already making me worry, and I do hate to worry. I think it’s the worst emotion in the world.”
Judy emitted a panting sob. Adele turned to her, and she felt into her mother’s arms.
“Why, baby, what’s wrong?” Adele asked anxiously, arms tightening around her daughter and drawing her closer. “Shush, Judy, tell me.”
“I … I thought it was real,” Judy sobbed. “I thought it was all real.”
“I don’t understand. What did you think was real?”
“You,” Judy panted. “It’s been almost two years, and I … I was so sure.”
“Judy, I’m afraid I still don’t understand.”
Judy drew back and rubbed her eyes. “I thought you loved Daddy. I thought you loved him like … like in the movies, and … I even thought you cared about people. Like the people in … Germany and Austria and … and the Jews and … Belgium and France and ….” Judy’s words trailed off into more tears.
Adele pulled Judy closer and made soft, soothing sounds like she would if Camilla were fussing and she was in a particularly motherly mood.
“Judy,” she said softly, when the girl’s sobs seemed to ebb a little, “I love you so much that I would give up anything for you … for the privilege of being with you. The same goes for Camilla. I just don’t always show it. And your father and I … we … we get along well, and he loves me, and I … I’m not sure. I’m still … disappointed because … I really would have liked to marry Mr. Acton. But I think – I know – I love your father somehow. I’m certainly fond of him.
“As for Europe, I do care, and I see the death, the violence, the hatred, the injustice, but I just don’t like to think about it. It’s dreadful. Why should be constantly dwell on morbid things when the world is so full of sunshine?” She paused and glanced up, watching the last clouds ease their way beyond the horizon. “Just remember that I love you so very much, Judy,” she whispered at last.
Judy nodded slightly. “I love you, too.”
There was a long pause, then Adele spoke again. “Forgive me, Judy,” she whispered. “Forgive me for everything I’ve ever done – or not done – to you. Give me a second chance. Trust me to keep on being your mother. I can’t be perfect, but I’ve been doing my best these last two years. I’m changing, Judy.”
“I know,” the little girl replied softly. “I do trust you, but I want to be careful, I guess. Daddy says I’m, um, ‘naturally of a cautious nature,’ so maybe that’s why.”
“I understand that, Judy. It’s all right to be a little scared. But someday you’ll understand that I will never hurt you again.”
Judy smiled. “I guess I almost know that already, Mother.”
What do you think? Criticism is welcome, naturally, although if you’re like, “THAT WAS AWFUL STOP WRITING AAAAH!!!” then the border collies will get you. *wiggles eyebrows* *realizes how weird that looked* *hides*
*comes out of hiding* Before you go (I’ve been saying that a lot lately, but I have a lot on my mind!), I want to call your attention to the new look of Reveries! And yes, it is a work-in-progress. I have to replace a lot of stuff because the old theme by Megan had a lot of neat stuff. So, while I’m still tweaking it, what do you think? Any improvements to suggest? I want this to be the permanent theme of Reveries. Old-fashioned and writer-y. 🙂