I am planting you a lemon tree
In the middle of the yard
Never mind that it’s mid winter
And the ground is awfully hard
I am picking you a great bouquet
Of many-colored blooms
I didn’t know they’d make you sneeze
Or attract the bees into your rooms
I am making you a delicious pie
From scratch by my own hand
But I forgot to set the oven timer
And now the crust is more like sand
I want to do the things you like
And prove myself applied
So even if it doesn’t work
Please just know that
In the center of the garden is a fountain. It’s a low, shallow affair with a center column shaped into pretty sculptures of pudgy children – no doubt an imitation of older pretty sculptures of other pudgy children. But unlike the original, wherever it may be, this one made of highly engineered fibers. It is made intentionally old.
A little boy in knee-high trousers stands with his nose pressed to the rim. He has little concern for his Sunday best as he fishes out a penny from the basin. He throws it in, digs it out, throws it in. Cathy watched from her place by the door, wondering if he made the same wish every time. Given the heat of the day it was probably ice cream. Or a pony. Or one of the slick noisy trinkets advertised between cartoons. What is it that little boys wish for?
The slow parade of guests shuffled into the church. Cathy greeted them all in turn, though most were perfect strangers. All the while she watched the boy. He kept at his game, uninhibited, the edges of his rolled-up sleeves soaking through. Cathy tried to think if she had seen him with any guardian, but she couldn’t recall one. The boy had simply appeared in her line of view, devoid of any context. She shook hands with an elderly couple. Wasn’t the weather fine for the occasion? Couldn’t ask a better day to hold a wedding.
What would I wish for over and over again? Cathy shooed away a puff of bumblebee. The thought was like a riddle with a million good answers, but none of them right. In goes the penny, and out it comes. In and out, in and out. Guests ushered in, music drifts out. What is it I would wish for?
Money seemed beneath her. Happiness, too vague. World peace – but what does that mean? AC felt like wasting a wish. The boy was studious in his splashing, performing the serious task of his own making. Nothing else caught his attention. He caught the attention of nothing else. Cathy wondered if anyone else even noticed the boy. It was starting in five minutes, surely he should be collected and put into a seat.
I wish I would have said something – it struck her all at once. The truth of it was undeniable. Cathy hid her blush by pretending to adjust the itching fabric at her waist. It was useless, that kind of wish. Too much time and other talking, then too many miles and now this. This beautiful reminder by unsuspecting friends. Let’s be friends. Let’s always be friends. I wish I would have –
The boy was gone. The water in the fountain stood alone gurgling indifferently. Cathy looked around. Had he gone inside? I didn’t see him.
Cathy? someone called, we’re starting.
Cathy went inside and took her place among the party. I wish, I wish, I wish.
The image is from Wiki Commons. “Bunch of flowers with daffodils (Narcissus pseudonarcissus), France.” Public domain image.
Sam wiped the sleep from his eyes as he tottered out onto the porch. The mist was still creeping back into the tree line and the sun had only barely woken up. And a hum was coming from up the ladder.
Grandfather’s rusty, molasses voice drifted down from above the roofline. His hard-soled shoes were the last thing visible, sanding on the worn wood ladder as it leaned against the house. Sam wriggled though the rungs to get a better view. High above, Grandfather was trimming and arranging the ubiquitous morning glories. The gramophone flowers had much consumed the house in recent years.
“What song is that?”
Grandfather stopped, shifted to look below.
“Well, good morning Sam. What are you doing up?”
Sam shrugged, “What song is that?”
Grandfather laughed through a smoky cough.
“It’s an old, old one.”
“Is it your favorite?”
“I suppose,” Grandfather snipped a bit here and there, threw a noodley tendril to the ground.
“Why?” Sam hung about monkey-ish on edge of the porch.
“Well… I suppose… I suppose it’s because that’s the tune I danced to with Grandma for the first time.”
“Yep,” Grandfather climbed down the squeaking ladder.
“You and Grandma danced?”
“Oh, all the time, buddy,” Grandfather pocketed his little shears, “Why don’t we go in for breakfast before you get stuck in there for good?”
“Ok,” Sam untangled himself from the rungs, “Was she pretty?”
“Grandma, when you danced the first time.”
“Oh, very pretty,” Grandfather held the screen door open, “She wore blue dress with flowers all over it.”
“What kind?” Sam wiped his tiny feet on the welcome mat.