It was silly really. The minute he’d opened his eyes the thought came to him like a character from a forgotten dream: a ridiculous dream, a dream of nothing but unrelated thoughts and images. He ignored it, but it returned as he whipped two eggs for his Saturday morning omelet and hung around as he buttered his toast. By the time he’d washed his last dish, he’d given in; if nothing else than to make the thought go away.
Now here he was, standing in front of the unwanted, unvarying house with a tiny plant he’d purchased for 89 cents at the grocery store. He exhaled, walked past the spot in the yard and the tiny plants at the side, walked up steps, and rapped on the door. A moment of silence was followed by the sound of a scraping chair and barely perceptible footfalls. The door squeaked as it opened.
Her uncombed hair fell over a brown tee shirt. She tucked one hand in the pocket of her jeans as a confused frown flitted over her face.
He pushed the plant toward her.
“Here. I . . .” He scuffed a shoe against the porch floor and cleared his throat.
“I noticed you were trying to fix up your yard.”
She looked at the plant.
“I thought maybe you might like this to add . . .” his voice drifted off and he shrugged.
The hint of a smile crossed her face and she took the tiny flower.
“Um. Thanks. You’re the guy who walks by every morning at 7:30.”
“And walks past every evening at 5:15.”
He pressed his lips together, searching for something to say.
“I . . . When I eat breakfast and supper I can see you from the window. There’s not much else that happens around here. Nothing changes. Except you. You started walking past here.”
“I started walking past because you started working on your yard. Or at least someone did,” he defended himself.
“Would you . . . would you like to sit on the steps? I have some sweet tea inside I can bring out for us.”
He nodded quickly. They settled on the steps and sipped their tea.
“My dad lived here. He got sick, so I moved back. He died a couple of months ago,” she volunteered by way of explanation.
The man shook his head. “I never saw anyone around this house.”
She stared ahead.
“No, you wouldn’t have. He was very private. I take after him.” She flushed. “But, you know, he had some second thoughts those last few months. He told me to plant some flowers in the yard after he passed. He told me it would be a start. Of what, he didn’t say.”
His gaze was drawn to the yard.
“His house, your house, it looks cared for with flowers. Like it’s wanted maybe. Do you think you’ll sell and move back to wherever you were?”
She shook her head.
“No. This is my childhood home. Maybe it doesn’t – didn’t – look wanted, as you say. But I don’t sell memories. I’m stayin’ “.
“To second thoughts,” he said as he held up his glass.
“To new beginnings,” she added.
The clink of their glasses caught the ear of a passerby and she smiled.