day fifteen

Sometimes I steal flowers from your garden on my way to the cemetery, but today you’ve caught me and have demanded to come with me to make sure the “girl is pretty enough to warrant flower theft” and I’m trying to figure out how to break it to you that we’re on our way to a graveyard.

The first Sunday of every month, Reese heads to the cemetery. He always takes the long way, rain or shine.

It’s usually rain.

Water soaks his shoulders and hair. He hasn’t cut his hair in years and it hangs in thick, wavy strands down his back. The umbrella he is forced to carry swings at his side, along with his notebook. The notebook has been soaked and dried so many times the pages are permanently curled inward. A pen is clipped to the spiral of the notebook for any changes he wants to make.

He passes by Farmer John’s land. Along the edge of his property grow large hydrangeas of varying colors. Reese stops and picks a few bundles of the blue-colored ones.

“Hey there,” Farmer John surprises Reese. Reese immediately begins apologizing for taking some of Farmer John’s flowers. Farmer John calms Reese down with a laugh, “No worries, kid. I do need to see this girl you’re taking these flowers to.”

“She’s...uh...”

“Come on!” Farmer John begins to walk away, toward where Reese is headed. Reese rushes to catch up, opening his umbrella and sharing it with the farmer. Friendly silence settles between the two. Reese struggles to figure a way to break it to Farmer John about where they are headed, but despite how much Reese wants to speak up, he can’t.

“She’s in here,” Reese stops at the front gate. Farmer John’s eyebrows crease together as Reese leads the way past headstones to stop at one in the far corner. The other graves are close to overgrown with weeds and the stones cracked from misuse. Her grave is clean and free of debris. The few weeds that have grown since Reese’s last visit are pulled immediately by his hands.

“Ellie, this is Farmer John,” Reese introduces the farmer to her.

“Hi Ellie,” Farmer John’s voice says softly. “Who is she to you?”

Reese places the fresh stolen hydrangeas and removes the rotten ones, “She’s my baby sister.”

“Goodness,” Farmer John places a large hand on Reese’s shoulder.

“Thank you for the flowers,” Reese turns his face away from the farmer, to hide his tearing eyes. “She loves blue hydrangeas.” Reese moves into a sitting position beside her grave and opens the notebook.

“I think I’ll leave you to it,” Farmer John pats Reese’s shoulder once more before turning to leave. As he walks away, Farmer John hears Reese begin to read to Ellie. Farmer John turns around once to see Reese had closed the umbrella and water was rolling down his face.

But even Farmer John can see the rain isn’t hiding Reese’s tears.

And he is determined to plant more hydrangeas.