The Rose Garden

by Anissa Daily

 

Lena sat in the rose garden eating a sugared donut as grandma watered the flowers with a sun-yellow hose held in one hand and a clay mug filled with coffee in the other, and they watched the roses catch the water mist until the petals were plump and dewy, the sight of it taking Lena back to the times she and grandma used to do this every day after school when she was a little girl and they’d talk of almost everything, only now she was a young lady of nineteen and now grandma seemed to entrust her with different stories and conversation, not little ones from her little days because today as grandma watered the flowers she talked to Lena about her dad, a fresh and bold choice, and she filled Lena’s ears with stories from when he was growing up which involved much music and many broken guitars, and as grandma spoke Lena could hear a soft strumming of an acoustic coming from somewhere in her brain of lullabies and love songs her dad must have given to her as a toddler, which seemed about right as she was five years old the last time she’d seen him, and it wasn’t until this day in the rose garden that she remembered he loved music and that he sang and—yes!, he sang too, and he had sung toe hr most nights before bed when her mom was still married to him, so her brain unlatched and pushed up all those untouched memories that had been put away because her dad had gone away, and through the thrashing waves of subconscious out came those old, lavender curtains from her bedroom in 1997 with his seated silhouette in front of them, his guitar on his lap and the same silky, rich voice from his mouth singing a song she could only hum to now, and all right there while sitting in the rose garden with grandma she was thinking about her dad for the first time in years and she simply wanted to remember his face somewhere, but it surfaced and sunk again and again like the rose petals dipping from the weight of the water droplets, and even though grandma was always attentive, she didn’t notice Lena’s watering eyes, she only went on about his high school years and his second attempt at forming a band, his track and field records, his laughter and other details that Lena couldn’t connect with because these were grandma’s memories of him, not hers, and she didn’t know her dad as this boy whose world was consumed by music, she’d only known him when he was an older man with an old guitar and a wife and a little daughter and that was his world, or it might have been the other way around that he was her world, her hero at five years old, and as grandma kept speaking with a newfound rosiness in her cheeks, Lena could see that he was grandma’s hero too, her tragic hero who went away and left her also, and his leaving was everything because everything sunk as a result, even his daughter’s memories of him.

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