Sara would get irritated when Shawn mistakenly pulled Sara’s hair while playing with it. Shawn would kiss her to apologize and Sara would get more irritated. He had improved on his skills. Merely in 5 minutes, he had adorned almost all of Sara’s lovely hair strands with wildflowers of all colors. Sara was reading her favorite novel lying on her stomach and Shawn was busy playing with her hair. This place by the river side was kind of a hideout. One had to pass through a wide strip of grassland to reach this riverside and once you reached it, there was no view of the other side due to the grass on this land that was also 2 feet high at some places. The grassland opened into a small stretch of a carpet of lush green grass with wildflowers of all the different vibrant colors possible growing all over the place. The sound of the flowing, splashing water only added to the peace and beauty of this riverside.
Sara and Shawn had marked this place as their hideout and hangout place. They would take something to drink, sometimes a bottle of their favorite wine, a bottle of water, something to read, a light snack, and a playlist ready with songs that each of them contributed to after long arguments. Their music choices were pretty different; while Sara liked country music, Shawn mostly heard rock and pop. They both would spend hours at this place, sometimes even without speaking much. They both had discovered this place when they were in high school. That summer Sara and Shawn had decided to explore every water body that was bigger than a pool in their neighborhood. They discovered four of these and got a good tan that summer. They used to select an activity every summer that they would do together. They had been doing so for the past 5 years.
This day Sara was spending time at their place, but alone. She usually came to this place after Shawn had passed away in an accident that fateful day. Only the place was not a hideout anymore. Although it was not crowded yet, a few people seemed to have discovered the place. Maybe Shawn did not want her to be alone there anymore. People would sit, eat, chit-chat and spend some hours there. Something Sara did not like was that everyone who came would collect a bunch of these small flowers and some ladies would even decorate their hair with these. The act was cute of course, but it evoked some kind of pain in Sara’s heart; it was like sharing their beautiful tradition with other random people. For this reason in particular Sara mostly kept to herself; she would take their favorite wine along and heard to Shawn’s playlist with her earbuds on. She wanted to spend this time only with Shawn’s memories and thus barely tried to connect with the few others present around.
Sara’s days went by really slow after Shawn had gone. She was working on that; she tried meeting friends, spoke more with her family, took up a part-time job, and would always make time for two things—visiting the riverside and Shawn’s tombstone. The latter seemed to impart more peace to Sara than the riverside these days. At least there was no one there to disturb Sara’s emotional state. Sara would take some wildflowers along to Shawn’s tombstone every morning she visited it. Somehow, the flowers didn’t wither too much. Every time Sara visited, the flowers seemed kind of fresh. This made Sara happy.
It was a busy day for Sara. She was late today on everything she had planned and thus decided to visit Shawn late that evening. Sara would not miss the visit him any day, no matter what else she had to miss on. She rushed through her day to make time to visit the cemetery.
Later in evening as she was entering the cemetery, a teary-eyed girl was leaving. There was a familiar, recognizable aura around her. A very weird feeling crawled under Sara’s skin. She got goose bumps for no apparent reason. Sara turned around to see if she knew her. She was not someone she knew for sure. Sara began walking towards Shawn’s tombstone but she stopped and turned back…wildflowers…the girl wore a kind of a crown made of wildflowers and held some in her hand. That explained the feeling. “Somehow everyone seemed to be fascinated with wildflowers these days,” Sara thought to herself. She did not like something so close to her starting to become commonplace.
Sara had brought some wine to drink there with Shawn as she was not able to go to the riverside today. She took a peek in her handbag and took it out as she reached the tombstone. She smiled to herself and sat beside the tombstone. Keeping the bottle aside, she started to place the wildflowers she had brought on the tombstone. Her hand stopped halfway and she stared at the fresh flowers placed there already. These were very fresh flowers. “Who visited Shawn?” “Did the woman that was going out put them there?”
“She might have seen my flowers withered and might have placed fresh one while leaving.” Sara kept aside some from her own collection and thought that while returning she will place some on the tombstone that the woman might have come to visit as a thank you gesture. She then drank some wine directly from the bottle and left a major portion on the tombstone. After having sat there for a bit, she decided to leave after about an hour when she realized she was running late, again, for her night class. When she came out of the cemetery and started rummaging her bag for her car keys she realize that she had forgotten to offer the flowers that she had decided to do. She was already late, so she thought she will bring some the next day and will place these for sure tomorrow.
Today Sara visited the riverside in the noon and decided to go to the cemetery in the evening. Sara was happy to see the place all to herself; there was no one there except her. She sat at her favorite spot and took out some eatables and decided to lie down for some time basking in the sun. These kinds of days used to be Shawn and her favorites and lying down was all that they did on such sunny days. She was happy to not load her ears with earbuds for a change today. It had been about an hour when she could hear some ladies chuckling. They might have just come to the place. Sara felt too lazy to move so she lay there with her eyes closed feeling the warm sun on her body. She slowly drifted into a dream about Shawn playing with her hair and speaking about how beautiful she was.
“Sara, you know right?”
“Umhmnn…” said Sara.
“You don’t even know what I am talking about,” Shawn would laugh.
“I am too lazy to think and speak…so…maybe.”
“Hmn. But you look beautiful even when you are lazy,” and then Shawn kissed her.
“That’s not the way he made that crown,” one of the girls said and Sara came out of her dream. She opened one of her eyes and saw hazy images of three girls walking past her spot. She closed it back and wanted to continue her dream. After 5 minutes, Sara opened her eyes wide abruptly as if in shock. She jumped up and wildly looked around for those girls. She had realized it might have been the same woman from the cemetery among the three ladies that just passed by. No one was around. They were maybe leaving when they passed across her. Sara also left after some time.
In the evening, as planned Sara went to the cemetery with extra wildflowers. As she was walking towards the tombstone, she saw the same woman sitting at Shawn’s tombstone muttering something while one older lady stood beside her. The lady sitting was young and beautiful. “They might have known Shawn.” Then the woman placed some wildflowers on the tombstone and made a quick crown-like thing out of some of the flowers and placed them on her own head. Sara stood there watching this from a distance. She didn’t want to get any closer. Sara stood there watching, her feet glued to the ground during this time and as they walked past her. “This was the same woman who visited yesterday ‘with tears in her eyes’…she might have been close to him.” “How did she know about the wildflowers…and the riverside.” “The riverside was our hideout.” “Who might she have been to come visit both these places after Shawn?” “Shawn never mentioned anything to me about anyone so close to him.” “The women also mentioned on the riverside yesterday that ‘he’ made the crown a certain way; was she referring to Shawn?”
Sara managed to pull her feet out of the earth beneath her foot and started walking towards Shawn’s tombstone. Then in the hope to see the wildflowers placed on some other tomb too that the woman might have actually come to visit, Sara went through the whole cemetery but could not find any wildflowers on any other tombstone. “She did come to visit Shawn…every single day.” This was the reason that the flowers did not wither.
Sara turned around and headed out of the cemetery to see if the ladies had left as she wanted some answers. As she reached outside, the woman with the wildflower crown was already headed back inside; she had Shawn’s favorite wine in her hand. She might have forgotten to offer this earlier. Sara ran towards the older woman instead as she somehow did not want to confront the lady with the crown; wildflowers felt scary all of a sudden. Sara jumped towards the old lady and almost scared her into a halt.
“How did you know Shawn, mam? I saw you visiting him here,” Sara asked bluntly.
“Oh! I did not know him as well as my daughter knew him.” The lady again started walking while speaking. “They both wanted to have kids together.” The lady kept walking while Sara stood there dumbstruck. Sara walked backwards until she hit a wall on her back. The tears that she did not allow to flow were now rolling down unabated. She slid down with her back against the wall and sat on the floor, her folded legs locked in her arms and face hidden behind her knees. She held tight onto herself as if she was preventing something broken from shattering into pieces. “I thought those were just my wildflowers! I thought you were just mine!” She cried out loud, losing her breath several times in between, she sobbed and then cried copiously and then sobbed, sporadically.
Although the cemetery did not see Sara again, Shawn’s tombstone always had offerings of wildflowers; only now the flowers withered sooner.