Roses and Water Lilies
The crinoline felt scratchy on her skin. Funny how the warm stone made her feel like she had to pee. She’d heard them calling for her but since she wasn’t supposed to ever be near the pond, this would be the last place they’d look. Each time the breeze shifted, a waft of fragrance from the water lilies drifted across her face. Faint bubbling was the background but she wasn’t sure what that sound was from. In the beginning, when she first started sneaking off to sit near the water, the rustling and scratching in the bushes scared her. It sounded so loud on the quiet spring mornings.
“What’s that?” She whispered, startled.
“Just the birds, little miss. There’s a nest of barn sparrows and some doves are rustling in the rose hedge around the pond.”
“I didn’t know you were here.”
“I know. Come along now, you know you aren’t supposed to be here.”
“Please, let me stay. Don’t tell.”
The tall, gangly boy looked down at the little girl. He looked around for a moment and then sighed.
“Okay. But promise me you won’t go any closer to the water. You’ll stumble into the roses and the thorns will get you or fall into the water, and I know you don’t know how to swim yet.”
“I never get to feel the grass on my toes.”
Mac noticed the little white socks with black across the top and the pink shoes against the deep green grass. Mary Jane socks, he remembered had been his sister’s favorites. Mom had to take them when she was asleep to get them into the wash. They were the same age, Little Miss and her. Or would have been.
“The air will feel cooler near the water,” he said.
Mac had crunched away across the dry summer grass. He never bothered her when she was able to escape to this place. She knew he managed to always work his way around nearby though. He never said anything to her again but she knew he was near. He hummed softly when he worked and sometimes, along with the scent of roses and lilies, she could smell tantalizing garlic and onion. She knew it was from him when he’d been working hard. She wondered what he ate to smell so that it sometimes just made her hungry.
She heard steps along the walk. She sighed. This was the last time she’d sit here like this.
Goodbye, she thought.
She looked up towards her mother, the sun warm upon her face as she did so.
“Come along. Time to go.”
Claire took her mother’s hand and walked slowly with her. She stopped and turned back towards the scent of rose and water lily. She didn’t see Mac shade his eyes to watch her walk away. She didn’t see him start to wave, then drop his hand.
“Come along sweetie. Let’s go get those new eyes.”
She’d never see her favorite place this way again.
Roses and Lilies was entered at LitStack in Flash Fiction Challenge #5. Visit the site to see the prompt and find links to other entries.
Photo by Daphne Bahamonde