In the Garden

 

By Celine Rose Mariotti

 

 

            L  ila Thompson watered her garden every day.  The geraniums were doing so well, and so were her gardenias.  She had lots of lovely petunias, pansies, phlox, portcullises, hollyhocks, bachelor buttons, snapdragons and sweet peas, too.  When she’d finish weeding and watering, Lila loved to sit and read in her garden, and drink cold lemonade.  In the hot weather of Biloxi, Mississippi, Lila took comfort when it rained.  She took comfort watching her garden bloom, as it reminded her of her husband, Elijah, who had passed away only two months before.  Sometimes when everything was still, Lila could feel his presence.  She knew he was near and that he never really left her, even though her daughter thought she was crazy when she said such things.

It was almost six o’clock in the evening. Lila was out in the garden, sitting at her little table, sipping her lemonade when she thought she heard Elijah’s voice.  She got up from the chair and walked down the garden path, but there was no one there.  She called his name, “Elijah!  Is that you?” A warm breeze blew and she felt someone take her hand.  Lila turned and saw Elijah with a flower in his hand. “A pretty flower for my pretty lady!”

Lila smiled.  “I knew it was you, Elijah.  You’ve come back to see me!”

“I will never leave you, my pretty Lila.” With that Elijah disappeared once again and Lila smelled the aroma of the petunia.  She fixed it and put in her hair like she used to when she and Elijah were first dating over 50 years ago.  Lila took her book and her glass from the table and went inside.  Seeing Elijah again had made her feel so happy that she decided to make herself an apple pie.

Lila always made apple pie for Elijah because it was his favorite, and over the years, it had become her favorite, too.  As she was getting all the ingredients out to bake, a knock came at the door.  Lila went to see who it was.  Georgette, her good friend since high school, stood at the door.

“Lila, where were you today?  You didn’t come by to talk with the girls.  We all missed you.  Are you alright, Lila?

“Yes I am just fine.  I’m baking an apple pie.  Want to stay and help me?”

“Sure.  It’s awful hot for baking.”

“Doesn’t matter, because I have been inspired by Elijah.”

“Elijah?”

“Yes he was here, in the garden.”

“Not that again.  Lila, you know that is not possible.  Elijah is dead.  You have to accept that.  I know it’s difficult.  It was difficult for me, too, when Chester died.  Every now and then I think of different things he liked. I sometimes hear his voice, but I know it is just my mind wishing he was here.

“I really did see Elijah.  I know you don’t believe me.  My daughter doesn’t either. But I saw Elijah and he gave me a flower and he said the words he always says, ‘A pretty flower for my pretty lady.’” 

“I’ll let you believe if it makes you feel better.  Come on, let’s bake this pie.”

“Thanks for coming by, Georgette.  You’re a good friend.”

“Don’t worry, anytime you need me, just pick up the telephone and we’ll talk.”

“Thank you.  That means so much to me.”

After they baked the pie and it cooled off a bit, Lila made a pot of coffee.  She and Georgette sat down for coffee and pie.  They talked about their husbands who had passed away.

“I still remember when Elijah used to go out in the garden and plant all those pretty flowers for me.  He was so proud of his garden. He even won a prize for it one year, remember that Georgette?”

“Sure do.  I remember when my husband, Chester, and I took our first vacation together.  The kids were seven and nine-years-old and the whole four of us got in the car and drove clear across the country to Las Vegas.  Then we drove to California.  Along the way we stopped in so many places.  We had a wonderful time that summer.”

“Hmm, I remember when Elijah, my daughter, and I took our first fly-away vacation.  We got on the plane and flew to Washington, DC to see our nation’s capital.  We were all so excited.  The first time on a plane!”

“It’s something, all the memories we have.  I can still see Chester playing his banjo and all of us gathered around singing with him.  That was so much fun.”

“How time goes by, Georgette.”

“Yes it is ever so fleeting.  I best be going.  Thanks for the coffee and pie and I had fun helping you bake it.”

“Thanks for coming by, Georgette.”

Once again the house was lonely and Lila went to bed and dreamed of Elijah.  She saw him in the garden with all the flowers.  When she awoke, there was a very cool breeze blowing through the window.  Lila got up, and put on her bathrobe and slippers.  She heard a voice out in the garden.  Lila walked out and there he was. Elijah.  He smiled at her once again.  “A pretty flower for my pretty lady.”  

 Lila reached to take the flower.  “Thank you, Elijah.” Once again he disappeared. Lila would always love Elijah, and every day she found him in the garden. It didn’t matter what folks thought, or what her daughter said, Lila knew that Elijah was always with her, always there in the garden.

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