wet grass soaked her summer sandals as she moved across the fresh cut lawn. she was dressed two weeks too early for warmer weather as cool spring hung heavy in the air, riding the green scent of grass clippings and the last chill of winter months gone by. the earth was hard in the winter. regardless, this was his favorite dress and she vowed to wear for his homecoming, never mind the season. it’s odd to bring men flowers so instead she’d tucked a bottle of whiskey under her arm, smiling to herself and the inappropriateness of the gesture. knowing the disapproving clucks sure to come from his grandmother but loving the thought of his warm smile and mischievous eyes. coconspirators in every way, even when it comes to goading the elderly. for shame.
at the designated spot, truly his spot, she spread an old blanket over the damp lawn and placed her self in the middle. reaching back behind her, she nestled the now warm whiskey bottle in the grass and stretched her legs out in an effort to capture the sun, inhaling the earth and air and the memory of his smell. she could feel him behind her now and knew as surely as she knew the blood in her veins that he was there.
well hello, stranger, she said. i’ve missed you. i miss you a lot.
all the time, really.
i brought you something. i seriously thought about bringing flowers this time but i know that’s not your style.
but his silence didn’t stop her. she’d grown to accept it and would continue to babble on to fill the empty space. he was never able to get a word in edgewise.
the man at the liquor store knows my face now. i really think he believes i have a drinking problem. i should probably tell him differently but it’s fun to keep him guessing. don’t you think?
she rolled over onto her belly, digging her toes into the wet grass, her sandals forgotten in their already-too-dampness. though spring, the ground was still cold. still hard. it’d be a few months still before it warmed enough to laze on the blanket without catching a chill, especially in this dress. but how he liked it. she could feel him smile beneath her.
looking up across the field, she saw clusters of flowers and the occasional balloon. a stuffed bear here and there. much more appropriate gifts than whiskey. flowers die, she thought. as all things die. but whiskey can only go stale, stink and boil when left in the hot sun. how many handles of whiskey had the sun turned in his hands? countless, she was sure. she should ask the man at the liquor store if he had records of her purchases the next time she saw him.
can you believe our anniversary is almost here? i can’t. it’s pretty crazy. it feels like just yesterday to me. and forever at the same time. y’know?
well, i love you more and more every day. surely my heart will burst with it one day. but in the meantime…
she turned around and set up on her knees scooting towards him. pressing her cheek against the cool granite, she smiled. happy to have a moment to herself with him. truly the cemetery was empty this morning which was rare. as she stood up to fold the blanket, she snuck a quick kiss on the top of his tombstone and turned to leave.
almost as if he called out to her, but really more as though a thought occurred to her for the first time, she turned back around and knelt over the bottle. turning it over once, then twice in her hands, as if weighing the philosophers stone, she unscrewed the cap and took a long pull. disgusting, she thought as she tipped the bottle and let a drag pour out over the ground.
no sense in wasting good whiskey.
love always, sarah.