Fruit Barrel (If Only I Could Speak: Episode II)

Submitted into Contest #175 in response to: Write a story that includes someone saying, “Thank you for that.”... view prompt

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Friendship Romance Fiction

Lys rushed toward Syre, stumbling over himself just in time to catch the tipping fruit barrel.

Since bonding over his grandmother’s quilt, Lys gained the courage to keep her company common. Though spoken word only held truths, he spoke with her often. Most times, the beautiful shopkeeper of Sonare left his voice with a written return. On the rare occasion she granted him her words, they were nothing more than whispers.

The barrel wobbled unsteadily, weight shifting haphazardly until finally, Syre held it upright.

“Thank you for that,” she whispered as they stood next to each other.

“It’s no problem,” Lys shrugged.’

Truthfully, he wanted to take it. Between Syre’s height and the width of the barrel, the woman could barely see around it. In fact, Lys would bet on her tripping over herself a second time. However, Lys knew her to be stubbornly independent. Taking over her feat would not have been a feeble attempt at kindness, but an insult to something she’d done for as long as he could remember; taking care of herself.

It wasn’t the sob story of parents that gave no consideration or care toward their child, or a lack of parents forced the woman to raise herself. Instead, Syre was granted loving parents who’d always let her make the best decisions for herself. He recalled several occasions she’d tried to venture into other forms of business; a dress shop, paintings, carvings, but nothing beat her green thumb.

So, the young woman became an award-winning gardener and a main provider of fresh goods. Every morning, Syre tended to the fruits and vegetables of the season. At midday, she carried healthy crates throughout the city to fulfill her orders. By the evening, she settled down on her porch with hot tea and a satisfied smile.

The pair walked to the street’s edge slowly until Syre huffed and slammed the barrel down.

“They’re not all bad, are they?” Lys asked with concern.

Syre shook her head.

“Then, why so much?”

Syre freed a small notepad from her pocket and began to write. The scribbles carried themselves all the way down to the paper’s edge.

Lys took the notepad and scanned the note quickly. She’d decided the city deserved a free run. The idea was a fresh one, and she predicted it’d be best for a slowing business.

Lys nodded in approval. If Syre was willing to hand her produce out, it meant she was beginning to have an overgrowth.

I hope she’s doing okay, he thought. She’s never been slow on business. I don’t even think she’s ever had a complaint. Everything she harvests is perfect.

Syre studied his expression, hopeful to hear his voice. Yet, she knew when he didn’t respond out loud, he’d thought something better left unsaid—a truth he rather not tell. Yet, his face betrayed him. His concern was clear as day.

“Worried,” she whispered.

Damn. Guess I don’t have a choice unless she lets me write it down, he sighed mentally.

Syre stared in sadness because she knew her assumptions were correct. It was no secret to her that he cared deeply for her and her wellbeing. His watching of her handouts at the end of each week did not go unnoticed despite pretending otherwise.

I hate not having the choice in this. If she knows I’m worried, she might worry more, and I can’t have that.

Finally, with a sigh, Syre relented, and offered her notepad.

Notepads and other forms of written word were the only relief from brutal honesty. Thankfully, the loophole had been discovered quickly. Unfortunately, the exception made written word an uneasy task for most. What were they supposed to believe should confessions be offered in a note? How could they tell the difference between a soften white lie only meant to save feelings? There wasn’t.

Lys took the pad hesitantly.

Unspoken understanding was exchanged between them. Though Syre did not believe Lys was taking an opportunity to offer a blatant lie, nerves crept in her chest as he wrote carefully.

Gently, he handed the notepad back.

‘Not worried,’ the note read. ‘Rooting for you.’

Syre smiled.

“Now,” Ly cleared his throat. “Let’s hand out some free fruit.” Without thinking, the young man hoisted the fruit barrel up onto his shoulder with ease.

Syre widened her eyes.

“Didn’t think I had it in me?” Lys laughed.

Syre shook her head.

“I understand.”

Lys wasn’t the stockiest of builds. Instead, he was average, but he chose to keep up his strength. With the physical necessity of upkeep on his aging house, he deemed it imperative to keep himself up just as much. His mother, as loving as she was, wasn’t so young anymore. So, she required more help than she cared to admit.

To him, the fruit barrel weighed nearly nothing, but he chose to hide that fact.

The two crossed the street into a nearby park where children played on a playground. They squealed and laughed as they took turns pushing each other around, but somehow, the kids managed not to speak sentences.

“Start here?” Lys glanced at Syre with raised eyebrows.

Syre nodded eagerly and gestured toward the fake grass.

Always the kids, she thought. They’ve always come first to me.

Lys took a deep breath and heaved the fruit barrel onto the ground. Before grabbing the group’s attention, he counted about thirty.

Half the barrel, his mind smiled. Not bad. This will make Syre happy.

Then, suddenly, Syre gave a loud whistle, startling everyone including Lys.

When the kids looked over, they beamed at the sight of her. A sweet snack after a day of play was always best, especially after being home-grown by their favorite shopkeeper in the city.

“One at a time,” Lys instructed as the herd of children rushed over with hopes of being the first one to get some fruit.

Strategically and with steady aim, Lys tossed fruits into the crowd. Thankfully, none missed, and he laughed with the group as he made a game of it. Silently with occasional giggles, Syre watched with a gentle love in her eyes.

In her silence, she’d discovered many truths untold. The first? She loved her garden and the joy it brought to so many around her. The second? Even though the city of Sonare never told a lie in its life, she loved it just the same as she would if it’d been ‘normal.’ Third and finally? Syre clung to honest feelings toward Lys; a truth so pure, it shined like sunlight.

I love everything about him, and I don’t think he’ll ever find out, echoed in her mind as the last of her, surprisingly, was distributed among the cheery children.

December 04, 2022 21:23

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2 comments

Marty B
22:44 Dec 15, 2022

true words from a storyteller! 'Notepads and other forms of written word were the only relief from brutal honesty.'

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Sarah Rich
04:04 Dec 16, 2022

Thank you!

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