That’s right! The final part of Flowers has finally arrived. Are you excited? Crying? Regurgitating? Biting your nails? Rolling your eyes and returning to your Reader/Inbox so to read better posts? Are you not even reading this?
Well, I’m sure you’ve having one of those emotions at this current moment in your life. Treasure this moment! It’s not coming ’round again, dude. Although … I’m not really a YOLO girl … y’know … YOLOUYHJ (you only live once unless you have Jesus) is my style.
I can assure you, however, that this post is a little better than my previous Flowers parts because I added images! Images make stuff better. Or … so everyone tells me. To me, they just make it take longer for stuff to load …
Out on the open countryside, she made her way up a rather steep hill dotted by sheep who nipped at the green grass without even raising their heads to look at her. At the crest, she found a large rock, sat down, and began to cry.
There was nothing else for her to do. That flower garden was her last effort … and it had brought nothing but problems. More disapproval from her mother, her best friend, and her sister-in-law. More worried looks from her daughter. More dirt marring her dresses, no matter how old they might be.
And Troy … when Troy came home, how he would hate it! He never liked things that weren’t meaningful, and this was probably the least meaningful thing she’d ever done … and that was saying something.
“If You existed, You’d hate it, too,” Adele told God. “I bet You’d be furious at me for ignoring this war You made, Oh Mighty One. After all, You did make it, didn’t you? This war that took away my husband? That was foolish of You. Troy knows how to keep the peace, but I don’t. Troy knows that I’m not really a bad person. He knows I’m just … just confused. He wouldn’t disapprove of me just because I can’t keep his rules. Well, he doesn’t really have any rules – not for me, anyway – but if he did, and I didn’t keep them, he’d love me anyway. You see, God, if Troy loves someone, he loves them no matter what.
“But You’re not like that, are You? I can’t do anything to please You, can I? No matter how hard I work, I’ll never be good enough.” Adele laughed at the sky. “Well, here’s something for You to consider, Oh Mighty One. No one’s perfect! Everyone makes mistakes! My mother makes mistakes, Judy makes mistakes, Troy makes mistakes … and what’s your solution? ‘Obey and you will be blessed. Disobey and you will be cursed.’ I know that one well, don’t I? Mother quotes it all the time. But it doesn’t help. I can’t escape the curse!”
“What a mess you’ve made of the simplest of subjects, Della.”
Adele’s head snapped down from the sky. “Troy.”
“So, do you want to talk about all this, or is it one of those things that I need to forget immediately or risk torture?”
Adele flew down the hill and threw herself in Troy’s arms.
“I see. I must be strangled.”
“No, you despicable excuse for a human being, you’re not lucky enough to die,” Adele replied, pressing a kiss to his cheek. “You may have forfeited your mustache, however.”
“Oh, no. You’ll have to think of something else. Maybe I could take you out to dinner tonight.”
“Maybe I can wait until you’re asleep and slit your throat.”
“Or we could, you know, learn to get along with each other and live a happy life.”
“Where’s the fun in that?”
Troy laughed. “That’s an excellent point. Now that we’ve insulted each other, can I say I missed you?”
“Well,” Troy mumbled around a kiss, “I missed you.”
“I missed you, too.”
“And it rained last night and now it’s sunny and you do look well. Now, can we sit down somewhere and talk?”
Adele threw her arms around Troy’s neck and kissed him. Troy laughed, picked her up, and set her on a rock.
“That’s cheating!” Adele exclaimed.
“What do you mean ‘that’s cheating?’ You’re the one who was cheating.”
“I wasn’t cheating. I was just … influencing.”
“Well, ‘influencing’ is just cheating under a different name. And, as a cheater, you have forfeited your rights to make decisions, and I am in control, which means we’re going to sit down right here and have a nice long chat.”
“Troy, please.” Adele stuck her bottom lip out in a pout and fluttered her eyelashes.
“There’s no way around it, so you might as well resign yourself.”
“Oh, very well. But I don’t think there’s anything to talk about.”
“I do. You see, Della, you’ve gotten God all wrong.”
“No, I haven’t. I’ve read the Bible, Troy. Why, when people don’t obey Him, He sucks them up into the ground!”
“Again, you’ve gotten God all wrong.”
“Well, first that incident was in the Old Testament.”
“What does that matter?”
“Things changed in the New Testament.”
“I don’t care. It was the same God in the Old as in the New. Besides, I don’t even believe He exists.”
“If He doesn’t exist, where did all this come from?” Troy asked, gesturing around them.
Adele looked up at the cloudless blue sky and the green grass, still sparkling with droplets of water, and the trees waving their leaves in the light breeze, and she took a deep breath to steady herself. “I don’t know. I don’t think it could have come from just anywhere. It … it’s too perfect.”
“See what I mean?”
“Yes, I see what you mean. But … that doesn’t change the fact that I can never be good enough. I deserve to be swallowed up, and so do you.”
“Well, that was rather the point.”
“I know, I know. I’ve heard it all before. Christians say that, and then they turn around a spurn me, as if they aren’t sinners too. Apparently my sins are worse than theirs. But what have I done, really? I neglected my child and left my husband. I dated for fun with no intention of anything serious. But I have done so honestly. Every action I’ve made has been out in the open. Is that why? Because I had no shame for years, they think That Man who supposedly died for our sins and all that only applies to them? Why? I don’t understand Troy.”
“Those weren’t Christians, Della. They pretended to be, but Christians don’t spurn sinners. Christians welcome them and show them an example of how it should be.”
“Then I’ve never met a true Christian.”
Troy pretended to be offended. “What about me, goose?”
“You’re not a true Christian. You don’t show me ‘an example of how it should be.’”
Troy grinned. “I’m not that bad, am I?”
“Of course you are.”
“All right, so you’ve never met a true Christian,” Troy conceded. “That doesn’t mean there aren’t true Christians and that you can’t become one.”
“I admit I like the idea. It appeals to something in me, the idea of being irreversibly forgiven of everything I’ve done, of being accepted for who I am and shown the path to becoming a better person. I definitely like the idea of life after death and Heaven and such, and I do believe that there’s something in human nature that points towards it all being true. But … I don’t know. I might not be able to change.”
Troy waved this off, almost hitting Adele with the back of his hand. “Sorry. I was going to say this: you don’t have to change. You have to be changed.”
Adele took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I don’t think I could let myself be changed.”
“If you think you’re not changing every day, then you’re wrong. Della, you’ve been growing by leaps and bounds over these last two years. Your lifestyle, your treatment of others, your treatment of yourself … they’ve all changed drastically. I am so impressed with you! I never could have done it. I never would have even tried to do it. But you … you’re so stubborn. Failure was never an option. Once you saw that you would loose Judy, you did an about-face, and here you are today, living in that creaky little farmhouse with barely a complaint, and we all haven’t killed each other yet.”
Adele slapped Troy’s arm.
“All right, all right, I’m sorry, but it’s really an achievement for our family,” Troy said laughingly.
“I never wanted to kill you – or anyone else, for that matter – and the house isn’t so bad once you get used to it. A few renovations, and we could live there comfortably.”
“I know, that’s what I thought. It will do well until the war’s over. I might be able to convince Harrington to come out and make some repairs.”
“Please, yes? I want to get him out of London, and this would be a splendid excuse.”
Adele laughed. “You don’t have to protect him, too, Troy.”
“Oh, yes, I do! He gets into a book-induced stupor sometimes that no air-raid siren is going to pierce.”
“I seriously doubt that.”
“Well, it’s true. But that isn’t what we’re talking about. We’re talking about you. How much you’ve changed.”
“I have changed a lot, haven’t I?” Adele murmured.
“Della, you’re a completely different woman.”
“Do you miss the old Della? You fell in love with her, after all, didn’t you?”
“No. I fell in love with the woman who was going to be, not the woman who was.”
“Perhaps, but it’s how I feel about you.”
“Like I’m some unfinished project?”
Troy laughed hard at this question. “Della, dear, we’re all unfinished projects. Come on. Let’s go see our family.” He started to stand, but Adele pulled him back down beside her. Her eyes were fixated on a daisy which waved in the wind.
The flowers in her garden which she’d so carefully tended had died … but this little creature, all by itself up in this hill, submitted to the mercies of the wind and rain, tended by no man, had survived. She remembered a verse about God tending flowers … could that be why this one had survived? Could that be why hers hadn’t?
“What did you do with Judy when she told you she wanted to become a Christian?” Adele asked.
“I prayed for her, and then she said her own.”
She took a deep breath. “Let’s do that.”
Troy cupped her chin in his hand and tilted her face up to his. “What?”
“I’m ready to do that.”
With almost super-human effort, he held back his grin, keeping his voice serious. “Are you sure?”
“As I’ll ever be.”
Troy wrapped his arm around his wife, bowed his head, and closed his eyes.
A Note from the Author
I started writing Flowers on a whim, and I never dreamed of actually finishing it … but several friends of mine from the blogosphere and social media encouraged me to write a sequel to my novella, The Lady of the Vineyard, and so I kept on going.
The end of The Lady of the Vineyard was really the beginning of Adele’s story. In Flowers, I attempted to finish it.
If you enjoyed this little story, be sure to leave a review on Goodreads to let me know.
Did you enjoy that last part? Are you heading over to Goodreads to leave a review? (I’d really appreciate it.) Did you know that The Lady of the Vineyard will be free tomorrow (April 15th) on Amazon? (#dumbblondequestions) What did you think of the pictures? (Yes, I do realize how lame they were …)
I’m sorry for all the boring posts of late. Something a bit more amusing is coming Monday … I promise! (Okay, I can’t promise you’ll enjoy it … but I’m going to do my best to make it enjoyable.)