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Spring Waves Writing Contest 2021: Dream-Treader's entry

Prompt: Flower Orchard


"Dee? ...Dee?" I call out for my fluffy companion as I carefully made my way around and along the crumbling wall.

"Dee, are you here?"

Wherever that Maine Coon was, he didn't respond. Even so, I find him tucked away among the old rose bed. He was staring at the ruins of what was once our home. Instead of crying, as I'd expected, he had a hollow look about him. As if something irreplaceable had been robbed from him.

Dee doesn't acknowledge me as I sit and lean against his plush frame.

"Lingering's not going to change what happened, you know," I say softly, resting my paw on his. He finally looks at me.

"I know." Dee hasn't spoken in some time, which might explain why his voice broke. He looks away again, probably to bottle up rising emotions again. "I... I just miss taking care of the garden."

Our garden. Since we've left, the landscape's grown wild. The once neat rows were full of weeds and wildflowers. It was chaotic now, but still the same garden we left almost a year ago. It was still the mirror image of a fantasy land found only in children's novels.

Dee and I have spent years together here. He'd always made the habit of taking me on picnics, watching the stars, picking the flowers... Kneeling to ask me to marry him...

Our old life was here still. I suspected that was why he was here. I'd certainly missed it. I wished things could go back to the way they used to be. They couldn't be the same, though. Funny thing about time. It was a one-way street. Sure, you could always pause and look back, but there was never any going back.

Maybe what Dee needed was a reminder that the past wasn't gone, but behind us. Here the past seems to be long gone, but those with careful eyes could see the swing still hanging, the clover patch where we used to stargaze (which really wasn't so lost to the briars)... Only his and my careful eyes could rediscover the hidden words of admiration we wrote in the dirt. Only we could still see and remember what this garden used to be.

I give Dee's paw a sharp squeeze before standing up again. He watches, head cocked to the side, as I fight my way through the rosebushes.

We used to keep all manners of plants here. From bonsai trees to fly-traps, we had it all. But we'd both loved the flowers more than anything. We'd loved sunny afternoons, which were perfect for wasting on silly talk through nothing less than flowers. I sigh, smiling softly as I remembered those afternoons.

I nearly trample on the very ones I was looking for- daffodils. The flower of rebirth and new beginnings. It was perfect. I stoop to collect one or two of the dainty little things, and walk silently back to the rosebushes.

"Dee." I say warmly. He's staring at the house again, but flicks his ear to let me know he's listening.

"Dee, look. Daffodils. You remember the first time you gave me daffodils?"

It was a moment before he answered. "No," he says, frowning slightly, "That was a long time ago."

"Well, now I'm going to give YOU daffodils, Dee." I press them into his paws. "Even if it's not today, someday we can come home." He smiles ruefully at that, but nevertheless holds on to the flowers like his life depended on it.

"Can we stay a little longer?" He asks, glancing at me, "Promise I won't mope when we go back to town. Even if it's cold." I roll my eyes, knowing well that was a lie. Dee's always hated how cold Tigereye Peak is, but we'd had nowhere else to go. Apparently his thick fur and soft belly wasn't much help in snow, ice, and more ice.

"Fine, but not too long. We have to go back after it starts getting dark."

"Good, because I figured out what we're going to do." With a bit of effort and a sour expression, he manages to get up. It was my turn to watch as he disappeared into the garden.

While he was gone I lay out on the grass and watched the lizards scamper around. Some run up and down the branches, some in and out of cracks in the wall. Birds call somewhere in the distance.

If I close my eyes I can almost forget it all...

I don't forget anything, though. Dee comes back after a few minutes with a violet hydrangea stem. His smile appeared less forced, which was a small improvement.

"Why hydrangea?" I ask, caressing the petals as I examined it.

"Because even after all these years... You still know me better than I know myself. Because you know how much I hate going back to that freezer every night."

"Is this supposed to be your way of thanking me for sparing you from 'that freezer' for a couple of hours?"

He laughs, and his smile definitely doesn't seem forced. "Whatever you want to call it," he says. He still held the daffodils, and looked expectantly at me. My turn again, then.

I spring up, determined not to be outdone. He raises an eyebrow when I nearly throw a pink hyacinth at him.

"Playful? Fine." He leaves and returns with delphinium. Ooooh.

"How dare you!" I gasp, mock offended.

We go back and forth, finding flowers and giving them to one another, until dusk. Freesia. Larkspur. Pansy. Peony. Each gift held more and more sentiment until we'd finally presented each other with a single yellow rose. The edges of the petals glowed in the sunset, giving them the impression of being on fire.

"So." Dee glances wistfully at the gaps between the trees, where the sky was starting to fall asleep. "Time to go, then?"


"At least we're going together."


Dee takes my free paw- I'd kept every flower he'd given me- and together, we go... Not quite home.

That was fine with us.

We'd go home soon.