Short Story

“Who would have thought that after all of these years, we would finally be standing right here?” Emma said, relieved. Eli stayed quiet, his arms draped around her waist. Emma only stood two inches shorter than him, yet she felt so small in his arms. She always claimed that his arms were the safest place for her. The spring breeze tossed her almond-blonde hair in Eli’s face. He inhaled deeply, taking in the familiar scents of lavender and thyme, recalling the years that had passed between them. Ireland was beautiful this time of year– even more beautiful than they had imagined. The photos that they had flipped through from the travel brochures just didn’t do it any justice. They had always meant to come sooner, but never could seem to find the time. “Life,” Eli thought, “just passes by so quickly.”

The flowers were in full bloom. Canvases full of yellows, purples, blues and greens were on display throughout the country side as if Van Gogh himself had painted master pieces onto the hills. Bright yellow sunflowers laid at their feet, encircling the space that they created for themselves. The sun shone on Emma’s face, highlighting the lines that only time and a life full of memories can create. Eli loved looking at those lines, each one reminding him of a different moment in time. Emma gracefully bent forward, careful not to dirty her lace-trimmed skirt in the fresh soil, in search of the perfect flower to place behind her ear. Eli always loved the way the yellow pigments within the pedals complimented her bright blue eyes. Her fingers landed on a small sunflower, about the size of a lid from a mason jar. Careful not to lose any pedals, she plucked the flower from its spot and placed it delicately behind her ear. “Those eyes”, Eli thought, “I never had a chance once I saw those eyes.”

“Darling, look at me!” Emma cried as she spun around, eyes closed, arms outstretched, embracing the warmth of the sun coupled with the refreshing gushes of wind. The soil beneath her bare feet sunk, ever so slightly, with each joyous step. Around and around and around she spun until her legs finally grew weary and she fell, merrily, to the earth. She laughed a long, appreciative laugh that echoed on the hillside, thankful for the brief lapse in time and gravity. Eli watched as another small line appeared on her cheek, just above the line that appeared the day their only daughter was born. Eli couldn’t help but fall in love with Emma all over again, but that was nothing new. He loved seeing her so immensely happy and carefree, holding the world around her on pause while she soaked it all in.

“Eli!” Emma shrieked with joy, “Do you remember the day that we met? Oh, my, that was such a wonderful day. I knew, right then and there, that I would marry you one day. Oh, you were trying to be such a show-off, throwing bales of hay, two at a time, over your shoulder. You knew I was watching you. You saw me blush every time you looked my way! Anyway, there you were, throwing your bales of hay two at a time, until your knees buckled and you fell to the ground! Of course, I came running over to make sure you were okay, but you wouldn’t let me near because my Papa was headed down to the barn and you didn’t want him to get the wrong impression. After all, it was your first day working for him. Do you remember, Eli? You were so embarrassed you barely spoke to me! But you looked me right in the eye, and I knew, Eli. I knew from the way that you looked at me that I would be your wife. I knew from the way that I felt around you that I would love you forever. And here we are, 46 years later. Oh, Eli, that was a wonderful day…”

“Mom?” Cassie said as she touched Emma’s shoulder, “Who are you talking to?” Emma looked up, taken aback by the grey storm clouds that were rolling through. The rolling hills of yellows, purples, blues and greens transformed into rows of stone and marble headstones, mostly void of color and attention. The color rushed from her face, leaving only rosy cheeks bitten from the chill. Cassie looked at her mom, saddened and confused. Then she reached down and touched the top of her mother’s ear and said “Oh, Mom! That is a beautiful flower!” Then Emma carefully laid sunflowers at her father’s grave as she kissed her hand and placed it on top of the headstone. Emma looked at Cassie with her bright blue eyes, and for a moment, she swore she felt arms around her waist and smelled the aroma fresh hay.

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